This archived article was written by: Nate Davis
On Sunday George Mason University knocked off perennial powerhouse Uconn, and became the first 11 seed to ever make it to the NCAA Final Four, becoming the greatest Cinderella story in the history of the NCAA tournament.
The Cinderella teams, are the reason that the NCAA mens basketball tournament is one of the greatest sporting events in America. It is the American dream played out on the hardwood. A team that came from any town USA makes a run at the title, giving the powerful teams a run for there money.
Most Cinderella stories end in heart break, with the little guy getting knocked out by the powerhouse. GMU rewrote history last Sunday when they knocked out number one ranked Uconn by a score of 88 to 84. I’m now going to look at some of the other more memorable Cinderella stories throughout the history of the NCAA tournament.
On Saturday, GMU will play Florida and will hope to continue their amazing run. If they win they will cement a place in the championship game.
One of the greatest Cinderella stories took place in 1985 when Villinova made an improbable run to national championship game where they defeated the defending champion Georgetown Hoya’s. The Hoya’s were led by future NBA star Patrick Ewing. In the championship game Villinova put on a show, shooting a un heard of 80 percent from the field in the second half of the game. Villinova became the only eight seed to win the NCAA tournament.
Loyola Marymount University made an impressive run to the elite eight in 1990, the Loyola Lions were playing with the memory of Hank Gathers, a LMU player who had died of a heard condition earlier in the season. The Lions run to the Elite Eight captured the hearts of millions.
My personal favorite Cinderella team is the 1987 North Carolina State Wolf pack, led by head coach Jim Valvano. The Sixth seeded Wolfpack, defeated number one ranked Houston University on a last second tip in by Lorenzo Charles. NCSU went on to win 54-52. After the game Valvano has one of the most memorable moments in all of sports running around the court after the final buzzer looking for someone to celebrate with.
Writing for a college paper in Utah I feel I must mention the run of the 1998 Weber State Wildcats, led by CEU’s own Harold Arceneaux. The Wildcats became giant killers when they knocked North Carolina, one of the best teams in the nation out of the tournament in the first round.
The Wildcats handed UNC their first, first round knock out in 19 years, beating them 76-74. WSU went on to lose to Florida in the next round by a score of 75-61.
Those are some of my favorite Cinderella teams, I hope with all my heart that George Mason University will be able to continue their magical run and win the NCAA title, but of course if you read my last column, the odds of that happening are slim.