March Madness Cinderella Stories of the Decade

march madness cinderella stories
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04: Head coach Brad Stevens of the Butler Bulldogs looks on from the sidelines against the Connecticut Huskies during the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 4, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

As we inch closer to the beginning of March Madness 2020, we begin to think about the attractiveness of this tournament. Why do we love it so much? It’s unpredictable. The numerous upsets and broken brackets make it fun. So, we’ve decided to look at the top three March Madness cinderella stories of the decade. Don’t let these change your March Madness betting strategy, but just know these stories can happen.

March Madness Cinderella Stories of the Decade

Butler (2010/2011)

Seed: #5 (2010), #8 (2011)

I’ve decided to combine Butler’s two championship runner-up years just because of how special they both were. In 2010, Butler was matched up against powerhouse after powerhouse, including both Syracuse and Michigan State. In 2011, Butler faced off against teams such as Pittsburgh, Florida, and Wisconsin, all three elite teams that year. The Bulldogs would go on to lose to Duke in 2010 and UConn in 2011. Both Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward were solidified as Butler greats during those two tournament runs. Both the fifth seed and eighth seed both have about a 2 in 100 chance of making it to the championship in any given year. The fact that Butler did this in back to back years is mind-blowing. Not only that, but it’s a once in a generation type of circumstance.

Stevens and Hayward put Butler back on the map, something that is still prevalent today.

Syracuse (2016)

Seed: #10

Outcome: Lost in Final Four

Syracuse had just come off of self-imposed tournament ban, due to numerous accusations of both academic and drug-related incidents. Safe to say they came back with a vengeance. As a ten seed, the Orange sat at roughly a one percent chance of getting to the Final Four. Well, they defied the odds and did just that. Numerous upsets made Syracuse’s journey a bit easier, but it culminated in one of the biggest upsets the NCAA has ever seen. Number one-seeded Virginia was knocked off in the Elite Eight by the Orange.

An unfortunate loss to North Carolina stopped this Cinderella story before it could get to the ball. But given the circumstances, Syracuse needed a strong run in the dance to prove their worth. They did just that and in dramatic fashion nonetheless.

VCU (2011)

Seed: #11

Outcome: Final Four

In the same year as the great Butler run, VCU had quite a run of their own. Coming in at the eleven seed, VCU would dominate Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State, and finished it off with a victory against number one-seeded Kansas. Ironically, two cinderella stories met in the Final Four, as VCU faced Butler for the chance at a national title. Butler went on to win this game, but VCU had absolutely surprised everyone in the NCAA world.

Eleven seeds have only made the Final Four just a handful of times, and have never been victorious in their games. However, VCU’s run featured victories over two highly ranked teams and it’s something we may never see again. An unfortunate run-in with another miracle story that year ended their run, but they should absolutely be recognized for their run in 2011.

What’s in Store?

March Madness is just around the corner. Will we see another installment in the March Madness cinderella stories, or will the seeds play out to their rankings? The latter seems far more unlikely, but cinderella stories are just as uncommon. Take a look at our latest bracketology piece to get that madness knowledge up!

These March Madness cinderella stories should be something we cherish. They don’t happen every year but when they do, they are something special.


March Madness: Embed from Getty Images

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