With Selection Sunday in the books, the best time of the year for college basketball fans is upon us. Every year, millions of participants carve out time in their busy schedules to fill out a bracket–or four–and enter pools with the hopes of winning office bragging rights or cash prizes. Whether you’re the diehard fan that watches every game, the casual fan that chooses an all-one-seed Final Four, or the loyal-to-a-fault alum that picks their mid-major alma mater to win it all every year, March Madness brings excitement and unpredictability to all.
One thing we love about March Madness is that it doesn’t matter how small a school is, how mismatched they are on paper, or how young and inexperienced their head coach is. Every school has a shot once they make it to the 64-team field. And while we all usually have a vested rooting interest in the favorites—after all, we want to win our brackets, and picking the lower seeds to win is often the best chance we have of doing so—we can’t help but root for the small schools, the underdogs, the Cinderellas.
So before all of our brackets are busted less than a full day into the tournament and we all go into I hate March Madness mode, let’s look back on some of the best Cinderella stories the tournament has ever seen.
#10 Davidson Wildcats (2008) – Elite Eight
Before Chef Curry was one of the NBA’s biggest stars, he was busting brackets and taking names in the 2008 NCAA tournament. That March, baby-faced Steph was almost unguardable. His lights-out shooting from the field led Davidson to upsets over powerhouses Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin en route to the Elite Eight, before getting knocked off by eventual-champion Kansas.
#11 George Washington Patriots (2006) – Final Four
In 2006, George Mason became the first Final Four Cinderella team in the NCAA tournament’s history—and they didn’t take the easy road to get there. The 11-seed shocked the basketball world by upsetting three of the most storied schools in men’s college basketball history—Michigan State, North Carolina, and UConn.
#11 VCU Rams (2011) – Final Four
Unlike the other Cinderellas on our list, VCU had a unique road to an improbable Final Four appearance. On top of matchups against lower-seeded Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State, and Kansas, VCU had to win a play-in game just to make the field of 64. Talk about taking the scenic route.
#5 Butler Bulldogs (2010) – National Runner-Up
Think that Butler’s 2010 season was any less impressive than the higher-seeded teams on our list? Think again. The small-time Indiana school put the tournament field on notice after wins over Syracuse, Kansas State, and Michigan State, before eventually falling to national champion Duke. The Bulldogs were literally inches away from cutting down the nets themselves, but a last-second half-court shot wouldn’t fall.
Want to represent your favorite teams in this year’s NCAA tournament? Contact Nikki with Belle & Whistles to create custom clothing and accessories in support of your favorite school, alma mater, or Cinderella hopeful.