When you sit down to make some March Madness predictions this year, be sure to keep in mind that this event always features plenty of upsets. The NCAA Tournament is the official name of the three-week event that takes place each March, but it gets its nickname based on what usually takes place.
There is definitely plenty of madness that takes place each year as underdogs tend to set the tone for this tournament. With that in mind, now is a great time to take a look back at some of the best “Cinderella” runs in March Madness history.
Most Cinderella runs end well before the national championship game, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of drama and excitement along the way.
2007-08 Davidson Wildcats
Back in 2008, Stephen Curry was an unknown shooting guard for the Davidson Wildcats. By the end of March 2008, Curry would be a household name and a player that would go on to become one of the best in NBA history.
Davidson was a 10-seed in that tournament, but the incredible scoring ability from Curry got the Wildcats all the way to the Elite Eight. Along the way, Curry drew plenty of attention from NBA stars such as LeBron James and he was nearly good enough to upset the mighty Kansas Jayhawks in the Elite Eight.
2010-11 VCU Rams
2011 was the first year that the NCAA expanded the tournament to 68 teams, setting up a “First Four” round of games. VCU was an 11-seed that year, but head coach Shaka Smart was able to guide his team all the way to the Final Four.
The magical run for VCU ended with a loss to the Butler Bulldogs in the Final Four, but the Rams eliminated some major programs along the way. VCU got past USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas on the way to one of the most improbable Final Four runs of all time.
2005-06 George Mason Patriots
A few years before VCU, it was George Mason that was the talk of the NCAA Tournament. George Mason became the first number 11 seed to reach the Final Four, and they eliminated some heavyweights along the way.
The most stunning victory during this run was an upset of number 1 ranked Connecticut in the regional final. Many consider this run to be the best in NCAA Tournament history, but there were plenty of other magical runs as well.
1998-99 Gonzaga Bulldogs
The term “Cinderella” really started to get thrown around back in 1999 and it was the Gonzaga Bulldogs that put on the glass slippers that year. It’s hard to envision Gonzaga being considered an underdog, but that was the case more than two decades ago.
Gonzaga advanced to the Sweet 16 that season after upsetting Sanford and Florida during the first weekend of the tournament. The magical run eventually ended with a loss to eventual champion UConn, but this set the foundation for the Gonzaga program.
2013-14 Dayton Flyers
The Dayton Flyers were one of the last teams in the field back in 2014 as they snuck in as a number 11 seed. Dayton was a big underdog in most of their games, but the Flyers put together their best basketball of the year for what turned out to be a remarkable run.
The biggest win for Dayton during this run was an upset win over in-state rival Ohio State. The magical run for Dayton ended with a loss to Florida in the Elite Eight.
2012-13 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
Florida Gulf Coast entered the 2013 NCAA Tournament as a number 15 seed, but it didn’t take long to realize that this team was for real. Not only were the upsets from FGCU impressive, but the way that they were winning games was captivating to basketball fans.
This team earned the nickname “Dunk City” as they played above the rim throughout the NCAA Tournament. FGCU stunned number 2 seed Georgetown in the first round and then eliminated San Diego State in the second round.
The Eagles eventually bowed out in the Sweet 16 in a competitive game against the Florida Gators. FGCU remains the only number 15 seed to ever reach the Sweet 16.