Power of Three- Best March Madness Cinderella Stories


Public domain image

March Madness begins this week with conference tournaments.

Welcome back to the Power of Three.

Over the years their have been many great Cinderella stories in the NCAA basketball tournament, commonly known as March Madness. It’s the most exciting two-and-a-half weeks in sports, with everyone filling out a bracket to get involved.

Some of the top Cinderella stories include Loyola-Chicago, NC State, Saint Peters, Oral Roberts and Villanova.

Here’s a top three, ranked on personal opinion.

1. NC State(No.6 to NCAA Tournament Champion)

In 1983 the bracket had not yet expanded into a 64-team bracket. NC State was coming into the tournament ranked 6th. This team captured the hearts of many fans, who would greet them at airports and treat them like celebrities.

The team was led by coach Jim Valvano and player Lorenzo Charles. In the first round they beat Pepperdine by 2 in a double overtime  and in the second round UNLV by 1 before beating Utah in the sweet 16. They then had to go against  the 1 seed in the West Region, Virginia, which they beat. In the National Championship game  they were matched up agonist powerhouse Houston. Houston was led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. With the game on the line an NC State player threw up a 30-foot shot, and it looked as if it was going to fall short, but Lorenzo Carter caught and dunked it.

The Wolfpack  won 54-52 and it is considered to be one of the best Cinderella stories in March Madness history.

2. Loyola Chicago( No.11 to Final 4)

Coming into the 2018 March Madness Tournament, Loyola Chicago was 11 seed and expected to get bounced by No.6 seeded Miami (FL), but that wasn’t the case. With the game on line 62-62, Donte Ingram pulled up from mid range and hit the shot with 0.2 seconds left on the clock, and the Ramblers moved on. The next round they faced  3 seeded Tennessee. Tennessee was favored to win the championship, but just like in round 1 that wasn’t the case. With about 5.6 seconds left Clayton Custer drove in and hit the mid-range shot with about 3.6 seconds left and beat Tennessee to move on to the sweet 16.  There, the ramblers were matched up with no. 7 seeded Nevada. With about 4.7 seconds left Marques Townes got a pass at the three point line, pump-faked, stepped back and hit the shot. Loyola moved on to the Elite 8, where  they were matched up against no.9 ranked Kansas State. Loyola dominated the whole game and moved on to play Michigan in the Final 4. The Ramblers came up short in the game, but this is also considered to be the best Cinderella stories ever.

3. Butler( 5,8 seed to Back-Back Finals Runner Up) 

In 2010 and 2011 Butler was ranked very low in the tournament, but the Bulldogs would go on 2 very magical and surprising runs. In 2010 they entered as the 5 seed they would beat UTEP, Murray State, Syracuse and upset Kansas State to advance to play Duke in the championship. Down 61-59 Gordan Hayward got the ball and shot it from half-court. The ball would hit the backboard and hit the rim and clang out. Butler came up short, but vowed to come back next year.

In 2011 they came in as the 8 seed and would beat 1 seed Pittsburg and then Florida just for some big wins. They would come up short again versus Connecticut in the title game. I consider this to be the 3rd best Cinderella story of all time.

March Madness begins this week with conference tournaments and continues next week when the NCAA tournament officially begins.