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Top 9 NCAA Basketball Cinderella Stories

The lore of NCAA basketball is rich with Cinderella stories that capture the hearts of fans each year during March Madness. These underdog tales are not just about buzzer-beaters and bracket-busters; they’re about smaller schools and unknown teams defying the odds to advance far beyond expectations. From the opening rounds to the breathtaking journey towards the Final Four, every national championship journey has the potential for the next unlikely hero to emerge. The NCAA Tournament is a testament to the idea that a lesser-known team, often tagged as the underdog, can rise up and achieve the unthinkable on any given day.

The beauty of college basketball and its single-elimination tournament format is that it invites upsets that can shake the foundations of the sport’s hierarchy. Throughout history, numerous teams have etched their names into NCAA lore by slaying Goliaths and dancing to unlikely spots in the Final Four or even the national championship game. These unpredictable moments have fans flocking to judi online malaysia, eager to see if they can spot the next great upset. The excitement of these matchups encapsulates the unpredictability and drama of March Madness, making it one of the most anticipated events in sports each year.

Historic NCAA Basketball Cinderella Stories

In the annals of NCAA basketball, there have been numerous instances where teams defied the odds and etched their names into March Madness lore. These teams, often characterized as underdogs, have made spectacular runs through the NCAA tournament, capturing the hearts of fans and embodying the true essence of the Cinderella story.

1983 N.C. State

North Carolina State, led by the charismatic Jim Valvano, achieved the impossible by claiming the national title against all odds. Their most notable game was when they toppled a top-seeded Virginia squad. The Wolfpack’s historic moment came when Lorenzo Charles converted a last-second dunk to defeat the favored Houston Cougars, making it the fourth most considerable upset regarding the point spread in a Championship Game.

1985 Villanova

Under the guidance of Rollie Massimino, the Villanova Wildcats captured the national title as an 8th seed, the lowest-seeded team to do so. They showcased a stunning series of wins, culminating in an incredible 78.6% shooting performance—aptly named “The Perfect Game”—against a Georgetown team led by Patrick Ewing. Ed Pinckney’s performance earned him the Most Outstanding Player accolade.

1986 LSU

LSU’s trajectory to the Final Four as an 11-seed marked them as the first team of such a low seed to go that far, taking down the top three seeds in their bracket. They were beset by adversity, yet Ricky Blanton and his teammates demonstrated their resilience by beating teams like Memphis State and Georgia Tech.

1988 Kansas

The Kansas Jayhawks entered the NCAA Tournament with 11 losses. Still, with Danny Manning leading the charge, they fought their way to a national championship. Manning’s dominance was on full display, especially against Oklahoma in the championship game, ensuring Kansas became the first team with such several losses.

1990 Loyola Marymount

Loyola Marymount University, known for its high-octane offense, experienced profound tragedy when star player Hank Gathers passed away mid-season. In honor of their teammate, the Lions advanced to the Elite Eight, including a high-scoring victory over defending champions Michigan, with Bo Kimble leading the way.

2006 George Mason

George Mason University, coached by Jim Larranaga, stunned the basketball world by becoming the first team from the CAA to reach the Final Four. Accomplishing a string of upsets over Michigan State, North Carolina, and even Connecticut, the Patriots’ run was a narrative of true David vs. Goliath proportions.

2008 Davidson

Led by the phenomenal Stephen Curry, Davidson’s march to the Elite Eight included outstanding performances against Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin. Curry’s ascension as a star propelled Davidson into the national spotlight and etched their journey into one of the most revered NCAA tournament stories.

2011 VCU

VCU’s entry into the Final Four, spearheaded by Shaka Smart, was as improbable as it was thrilling. Starting from the First Four, VCU defeated storied programs like Georgetown and Kansas, living up to the true spirit of a Cinderella run and becoming only the third 11-seed to reach the Final Four.

2018 Loyola Chicago

The 2018 Loyola Chicago Ramblers, embraced by the public thanks to their biggest supporter, Sister Jean, enthralled fans by becoming another 11-seed to reach the Final Four. Their journey was a blend of skill and destiny, as they overcame teams like Miami, Tennessee, and Nevada before bowing out in the national semi-finals.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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