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March Madness : The Cinderella Story

February 28, 2011

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You might be asking yourself what does Cinderella have to do with basketball… but if you are a Final Four fanatic, you know all-too well how exciting it is for a Cinderella story to happen during March Madness.


Cinderella’s Story

Cinderella vs BasketballCinderella vs Basketball

Why Cinderella? As you must recall from the Disney classic, it’s very exciting because the odds are against Cinderella to escape her evil stepmother and marry the prince. So a long time ago, some broadcaster, calling a NCAA Final Four basketball game on TV, named a team Cinderella when all odds were against that team to win… but they did!


Overcoming the Odds

Butler Did It!Butler Did It!

Now, a Cinderella Story happens quite frequently at the NCAA basketball tourney whenever an underdog team beats a #1 team or any higher seeded contender to move their way along a road to the Final Four. Because 67 teams get thrown into one giant tournament where every game is do-or-die, it’s actually pretty easy for any team to get hot and use momentum to beat anyone no matter what the rankings are. The NCAA Final Four basketball tournament is one of the only single-game elimination tournaments in the world, and a lot of fans go to the games specifically to cheer for Cinderella.


Sorrowful Sixteen

Last Year's BracketLast Year's Bracket

The NCAA basketball tourney bracket is what makes a Cinderella story. The bracket sets up all the games so that a #1 team plays a #16, #2 plays #15, #3 plays #14 etc etc. There are also 4 different regions with 4 different #1 teams, 4 different #2 teams… and so on. A Cinderella story begins whenever a lower ranked team wins a game. Ever since the tournament included 64 teams in 1985, no #16 team has ever won a game (0 wins -104 losses). So I guess you could say that #16 has been locked in Cinderella’s room for 26 years and there is still no Prince in sight.


Cinderella named George

George Mason Basketball FanGeorge Mason Basketball Fan

George Mason University wrote the biggest Cinderella story ever in 2006 when they made it all the way to the Final Four as a #11-seeded team. During their run, every game they played was an upset. Here is a list of their victories:


  • 75-65 over #6 Michigan State
  • 65-60 over #3 North Carolina
  • 63-55 over #7 Wichita State (who were also considered a Cinderella team)
  • 86-84 OT over #1 UConn
  • 58-73 LOSS to #3 Florida in the Final Four


Even though George Mason lost in the Semi-Finals, their victories beating teams with superstar players showed how teamwork and hard work can overcome adversities. In the end, usually a high-ranked team wins. The lowest ranked team to ever win the NCAA Championship was the #8-ranked Villanova Wildcats, but most others have always been #1 or 2 tanked teams.



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