Top 5 Cinderella Teams In The NCAA Tournament

By: 03.17.14
Desmond Haymon

Desmond Haymon (Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY Sports)

Calling all basketball fanatics, it’s that time of the year once again. College students, alumni, rowdy student sections… bragging rights are on the line in the nation’s most popular bracket tournament. As the matchups of this year’s NCAA tournament were just released, there’s nothing more to wait for.

But what would March be without the madness? Yes, we can’t wait to hear about the upsets and busted brackets as teams placed in higher seeds get knocked off by significantly lower seeds. This goes with “no name” schools to the big powerhouse schools that everyone expects to advance. But it’s almost impossible to finish with a perfect bracket. The Big Dance is full of too much madness.

I could be the first to tell you that, as a student, for everything your school has worked hard for, it doesn’t feel good to lose a game to a lower seed. My San Diego State Aztecs lost to the No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in the round of 32 last year. That night, I laid my head down in disappointment, wondering like most of the country, “Who is FGCU?”

From low seeds to the unpopular “no name” schools, each year there are always some that make a run in this Big Dance. After seeing all of the teams participating in this year’s tournament, I took my best guess to come up with a list of five schools with low seeds who could possibly make a run to be this year’s Cinderella.

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1. Stephen F. Austin
Who is Stephen F. Austin? The school name doesn’t sound too intimidating when comparing them to other college basketball teams. But if there’s going to be a true Cinderella story in this tournament, it’s got to be these Lumberjacks out of the Southland Conference. Playing in a conference of schools not known for basketball, S.F Austin will be playing with nothing to lose. They can put an end to some of these critics showing that smaller schools can compete too by making a run in this year’s NCAA tournament.

But they’ll have a challenge playing VCU in their first round matchup, a team with their Cinderella history. They have an impressive 31-2 overall record being a small school out of Nacogdoches, Texas, and received enough votes to nearly crack the top 25 rankings towards the end of this season. Going in with a “nothing to lose” attitude can potentially be dangerous for opponents, and the Lumberjacks will certainly have that.

2. Harvard
The name Harvard doesn’t sound intimidating at all when it comes to student athletics. But don’t be fooled, the Crimson can definitely play. In 2011, Harvard has made its basketball presence known in March by receiving a bid to the NIT, but in 2012, they made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1946 and made the Big Dance again last year. Last year, Harvard won their first NCAA tournament game as a No. 14 seed, upsetting No. 3-seeded New Mexico. No one saw that coming. This year, they’re a No. 12 seed and will have a tough task against No. 5-seeded Cincinnati from the AAC.

Their recent March Madness appearances speaks for themselves as a rising hoops program from the Ivy League. After reaching the round of 32 last year, teams should fear and respect the Crimson as a hungry and determined team looking to make a run. Since arriving in 2007, you can see that head coach Tommy Amaker has really changed the culture of Harvard basketball.

Hit page 2 for the top three Cinderellas…

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