10 Greatest Cinderella Teams in NCAA Tournament History

Relive some of the best moments in March Madness history with this trip down memory lane.
Stephen Curry and the 2008 Davidson Wildcats make our list as one of March's best Cinderella teams.
Stephen Curry and the 2008 Davidson Wildcats make our list as one of March's best Cinderella teams.

Conference tournament week signals the official start of March Madness, which is arguably the two greatest weeks on the sports betting calendar. This time of the year, even casual college hoops fans are enamored with the word “Cinderella”.

This makes perfect sense, especially here in America where we all love a good underdog story. In honor of March Madness, let’s go over the 10 best Cinderella stories in NCAA Tournament history. Keep reading to see if some of your favorite teams made our list.

1. 2018 Loyola Chicago

This Ramblers team was a delight to watch in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Porter Moser’s young squad went on one of the best Cinderella runs of the modern era. Loyola Chicago took home both the MVC regular season and tournament titles to get an automatic bid into the Big Dance.

That is when the magic started, as the No. 11-seeded Ramblers proceeded to take down the Miami Hurricanes on a last-second three-pointer by Donte Ingram. That buzzer-beater was followed up with victories over Tennessee, Nevada, and Kansas State. The Ramblers’ dream season ended with a Final Four loss to Michigan, but man, what a ride!

2. 2006 George Mason

No one gave it much thought when this Patriots squad was given an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament after a 23-win season. That didn’t deter Jim Larranaga’s crew from ripping off one of the most iconic Cinderella runs of our time.

George Mason took down Michigan State, North Carolina, and Wichita State before meeting UConn in the Elite Eight. Though no one gave the Pats much of a chance, they pulled off a stunning upset of the Huskies to reach the CAA’s first-ever Final Four.

3. 2013 Florida Gulf Coast

This team may not have made as deep a run as some of the others on our list, but they became the first-ever No. 15 seed to make the Sweet 16. The Eagles shocked the Hoyas of Georgetown in the first round behind a thrilling brand of offense that was dubbed “Dunk City”.

Though many thought that the Eagles would be one-and-done, Andy Enfield’s boys weren’t ready to go home just yet. FGC took care of business against San Diego State in the second round to cement their status as a true Cinderella. People still talk about some of the thunderous dunks of Sherwood Brown and Chase Fieler.

4. 1988 Richmond

We’re going back to the 80s with this selection and why not? This Spiders team shocked the world by taking down bluebloods Indiana and Georgia Tech in the Big Dance.

Those two upset wins allowed Dick Tarrant’s squad to reach the Sweet 16, where they were put out by No. 1 Temple. Kenny Atkinson was one of Richmond’s best players during this fantastic run, and he’s currently an assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors.

5. 2011 VCU

Oh yes, who can forget the golden Shaka Smart era at Virginia Commonwealth? The Rams were given an at-large bid into the Big Dance in 2011 and they didn’t waste it. The CAA darlings defeated USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State, and even Kansas.

Those 5 straight wins allowed VCU to make their first-ever Final Four appearance. Brandon Rozzell and Jamie Skeen were two key pieces of this remarkable group of Giant Killers.

6. 2011 Butler

To say 2011 was a special year for Cinderellas would be an understatement! This Bulldogs squad knocked out fellow Cinderella VCU in the Final Four to earn a spot in the NCAA Title Game against UConn.

Butler came up just short in that title game against the Huskies, but that deep run put both the Bulldogs and head coach Brad Stevens on the map. Stevens is now the President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics.

7. 2008 Davidson

This is when most college basketball fans were introduced to a young Steph Curry, who was an All-American for Davidson during this tremendous run. The Wildcats parlayed a perfect 20- regular season into an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Curry lit it up from downtown the entire tournament, and he was a big reason why the Wildcats enjoyed upset wins over Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin. This gave Davidson an Elite Eight berth, where they lost in devastating fashion to Kansas by only 2 points.

8. 2013 Wichita State

It’s not very often you see a No. 9 seed make the NCAA Championship Game but that’s just what this 2013 Shockers team did. They received an at-large bid into the Big Dance after losing to Creighton in the MVC title game.

Led by head coach Gregg Marshall and future NBA star Fred VanVleet, the Shockers proceeded to hand losses to Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, LaSalle, and Ohio State. They were knocked out of the Final Four by Louisville, but this incredible string of wins cemented their status as one of the top Cinderella stories in March Madness history.

9. 2022 Saint Peter’s

What’s not to like about this Peacocks squad? They had a dynamic guard in Daryl Banks III and a charismatic head coach in Shaheen Holloway. They also knocked off No. 2 Kentucky as a No. 15 seed!

The Peacocks proved that they weren’t just a flash in the pan by defeating both Murray State and Purdue to reach the Elite Eight. The North Carolina Tar Heels ended Saint Peter’s magical run, but it will live in March Madness folklore forever.

10. 1990 Loyola Marymount

No Cinderella story pulls at the heartstrings quite like this one! The Lions had an offense that had put up video game type of numbers the year before by averaging over 122 points per game. Needless to say, head coach Paul Westhead loved to run a lightning-quick offense.

Unfortunately, Hank Gathers, one of the Lions' top scorers and team leaders, collapsed on the floor against Portland in the WCC semifinals. The 23-year-old passed away a couple of hours later from a rare heart disorder. The rest of the conference tournament was canceled and Loyola Marymount was awarded the automatic bid to the NCCA tournament because of their record during the regular season.

Playing with heavy hearts, the Lions made an incredible tourney run. They disposed of New Mexico State, Michigan, and Alabama to earn a trip to the Elite Eight. They were put out by UNLV but the guts and moxy of this squad cannot be overstated.

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