From the evil step mother attempting to ruin her life, to the resourceful team of mice who boosted all her odds and even the fairy godmother that truly turned Cinderella’s story into an unlikely happily ever after, the original tale of Cinderella is so classic that its story was even adopted into the world of sports. Since athletic versions of the fairytale certainly do not include a pumpkin that conveniently turns into a decadent carriage or a lovely glass slipper that leads the prince to his princess, earning the title of a ‘Cinderella team’ involves more than just a twist of fate. The team must also put in the effort and have the skills necessary to advance in tournament play.
Cinderella teams can be found in a variety of sports, and are relevant to a myriad of tournaments and competitions. However, the term Cinderella team is most commonly associated with the exciting basketball games of March Madness. The tournament games in March are known for their show of upsets, but not just anyone can claim the Cinderella team honor.
The National Championship tournament hosts four regions that include 16 teams. In order to be considered a Cinderella team, a couple of things must be taken into consideration: the total number of elimination games a team has played and the odds that team has defied in order to continue moving forward in tournament play. For example, if a team with a high seed (ranked in the lower half of the bracket) and a low chance of winning triumphs over a team with a low seed that is strongly favored, that team is awarded the most prestigious underdog title: Cinderella team.
Cinderella teams make history with their unexpected success in the March Madness tournament. In 2011, The Virginia Commonwealth Rams made it to the Final Four as a number 11 seed, defeating the number one seed, the Kansas Jayhawks 71-61. Likewise, the George Mason Patriots made it to the Final Four as a number 11 seed in 2006, beating out the top seed, the UConn Huskies, 86-84. Finally, and with possibly the most shocking ending in March Madness history, the Villanova Wildcats earned the National Championship trophy as a number eight seed in 1985. The Wildcats triumphed over the Georgetown Bulldogs, who were a number one seed as well as defending National Champions, 66-64.
While it is always entertaining to watch a team completely dominate in tournament play, it is undeniably more thrilling to watch a team beat predictions and find success in the tournament. After all, they don’t call it March Madness for nothing. The Cinderella teams are the teams we come to love. With an unwillingness to accept their predicted fate, we find inspiration from these Cinderella teams both on and off the court.
So as you go to construct your bracket with your own predictions, don’t count out the underdogs; go for the Cinderella team and as always, go green.
Emily Murray is a senior majoring in professional writing and minoring in public relations. She loves fashion, especially writing about it, and enjoys working with VIM Magazine, CollegeFashionista and keeping up with her own blog, From Me to Hue. Emily is also a member of the MSU Dance Club.