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Top 5 March Madness Cinderella Stories in the Past 15 Years

College basketball upsets

5. 2008 Davidson

No. 10 to Elite 8

Coming into the 2008 NCAA tournament, Davidson hadn’t won a game in the dance in almost 40 years. Not much was expected from the team, perhaps a short run at the most. With a 23-6 record, the team’s scoring was led by a slim 6-foot-3 point guard by the name of Stephen Curry. With his outstanding shooting on the Wildcats’ side, the 10 seed team was able to reach the Elite Eight, upsetting stacked Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin. In these games, Curry averaged 34.3 points, 3.7 assists and four steals while making a little over half of his 3-point attempts. In the end, the team fell to Kansas, but only lost by two. The Jayhawks would go on to win it all that season.

4. 2014 UConn

No. 7 to National Championship

college basketball upsets

The 2014 NCAA Tournament was full of upsets — No. 10 Stanford made it to the Sweet 16, No. 11 Dayton made the Elite Eight and No. 14 Mercer overcame what seemed to be an unstoppable Duke team. However, the biggest shock of that year’s tournament was the teams competing for the National Title. Nobody had expected a 7-seed to be playing an 8 seed in a championship game. However, No. 8 Kentucky and No. 7 UConn Huskies were doing just that. Both deserving the spotlight, Kentucky and UConn pulled off some shocking wins. UConn specifically was able to beat No. 2 Villanova in the second round and an elite Florida team in the Final Four. Led by star guard Shabazz Napier, the Huskies defeated Kentucky in the final(60-54) and became the first No. 7 seed to ever win the national championship.

3. 2011 Butler

No. 8 seed to Final 4

After having a tremendous season from the preceding year, the one that was a Gordon Hayward half-court shot away from beating Duke and winning a national title, the Bulldogs were back again with a solid roster. This 2010-11 team was overlooked by many, however, due to Hayward’s departure to the NBA. Coming into March, Brad Stevens’ men earned a No. 8 seed after a hot 9-game win streak. After barely escaping Old Dominion in the first round, the Bulldogs were able to defeat No. 1 Pittsburgh in a dramatic fashion. They would go on to defeat Wisconsin and Florida and VCU in the semifinals. The 14-game win streak then would come to a halt against Kemba Walker and Connecticut’s defense in the national title game.

2. 2016 Syracuse

No. 10 seed to Final 4

As a 10-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. Although eased out with numerous upsets in the Midwest region, don’t undermine Syracuse’s journey. Not only were they able to overcome a 28-8 Gonzaga team in the Sweet 16, but they were also able to pull off a shocking upset against title favorites Virginia. The Virginia team had become an unstoppable force coming into the tournament, led by senior guard Malcolm Brogdon. However, as much of a threat the Virginia team was, the zone defense led by Jim Boeheim was too difficult to surpass. Syracuse won 68-62, extending their improbable run to the Final Four. That’s where their journey would end, however, with a loss to North Carolina. 

1. 2018 Loyola Chicago

No. 11 seed to Final 4

College basketball upsets

This dazzling Loyola-Chicago team will be one to remember in years to come. The Catholic university from Illinois went from college basketball unknowns to the most vibrant and talked about team in the nation. The team’s Cinderella story run, occurring only two years back, was led by Sister Jean, an iconic chaplain for the school. With some great chemistry, perimeter shooting and confidence, the Ramblers were able to upset Miami by a thrilling 3-point buzzer-beater. The underdogs, with momentum and a growing audience by their side, were then able to sneak past Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State all within a four-point margin or less. Eventually, all good things come to end, and Loyola fell short to Michigan in the Final Four. Nonetheless, if college basketball fans had any sort of takeaway from the 2018 March Madness Tournament, it would be Loyola Chicago proved that anything is possible.


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