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The Purple Tide

The student news site of Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA)

The Purple Tide

The student news site of Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA)

The Purple Tide

Logan’s Corner: Cinderella teams shape magic in March

The buzzer sounds with a ball in the air, the crowd is silent, the ball goes through the net, and loud cheers fill the arena as another high ranked team has been defeated. Year by year, the March Madness Tournament has fans, bettors and analysts attempting to get as close as they can to a perfect bracket. However, Cinderella runs hold them back every year. Cinderella teams are the lower seeds that defeat multiple higher ranked teams throughout the tournament. 

March Madness has 16 teams in 4 different brackets with them ranked 1-16. The winner of each bracket will compete in the Final Four, and then the NCAA championship game.

A team’s seed is its ranking among the other 16 teams in its section of the tournament. Cinderella teams like the 2006 George Mason Patriots or the 2011 Butler Bulldogs are mostly the 9-14 seeds, but there have been times when 15 seeds win a few games. On two separate occasions the 16 seed has upset the one seed, which happened in 2023, when Fairleigh Dickinson University upset number one ranked Purdue, 63-58. 

Although Cinderella teams have tendencies to ruin brackets – which to be fair would be ruined anyway – they always become fan favorites as underdog stories warm the hearts of sports fans. One of the main reasons is most of these Cinderella teams are smaller schools that barely make it into the tournament or only make it once every few years. What makes Cinderella runs even more special is when they defeat one of the favorites to win it all, or they beat a team that is universally hated around the country.

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The first team that comes to my mind when someone brings up Cinderella runs is the 2018 Loyola Chicago run. They went into the tournament as an 11 seed, playing in the tournament for the first time since 1985. They defeated Miami, Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State to clinch a spot in the Final Four. 

What made the run so popular around social media, was Loyola Chicago’s Chaplain, Sister Jean. At the time of their Final Four run, she was 99 years old, playing her role as the face of the team. She would be at every game and lead a cheer for the team. This run not only was iconic for the team and the school, but turned Sister Jean into an icon as well.

Most 15 seeds in the tournament have no real chance to win anything, and usually lose big in the round of 64. However, in 2022 we saw one of those rare runs by a 15 seed. St. Peter’s University, a small school from Jersey City, New Jersey, won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship to punch their ticket into the tournament.

 They started by defeating second seed, Kentucky, a powerhouse in college basketball, then beat Murray State and Purdue to clinch a spot in the Elite Eight. Their run ended in the Elite Eight to North Carolina, which ended up making the National Championship. The face of the run, Doug Edert, gained popularity with his loveable confidence and iconic mustache look. St. Peter’s became a fan favorite during their run, and since have been looked back as one of the greatest Cinderella runs in March Madness History.

Cinderella teams are a big reason that March Madness is one of the most popular sporting events in the world. The almost magical underdog stories add extra investments by fans, ruin the runs of high ranked or blue blood schools, and go down in history as a forever loved team in NCAA history.

College fans in Orlando crowd Kia Center to watch the Duke vs. Oral Roberts (ORU) March Madness first round matchup on March 16, 2023. Number four ranked Duke ended up defeating 12th ranked ORU 74-51. (Photo used with the permission of Cameron Lai-Harrris)
(Cameron Lai-Harris)
Four of the most popular Cinderella Teams placed into a Final Four bracket.
(Logan Earle)

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About the Contributor
Logan Earle
Logan Earle, Staff Writer
Logan is a senior in his second year with The Purple Tide. He is a captain for the Chantilly Swim & Dive team (district champs) and a recreational basketball coach. Outside of organized activities, Logan watches a large amount of sports and shows a large passion for his favorite teams and players. Logan also enjoys listening to music as much as possible, and if you see him, he will probably have an AirPod in one of his ears.
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