The Most Memorable March Madness Cinderella Stories


The March Madness competition is over, and it was just as surprising as always.Every year, the competition produces unexpected results and unlikely heroes, as underdog schools defy expectations and make memorable runs. 

Last year, the Princeton Tigers were the surprise package, reaching the Sweet 16 after defeating higher-seeded teams such as Arizona and Missouri. However, they are not the only ones. 

Since the tournament expanded in 1985, there have been several memorable Cinderella stories, with six double-digit-seeded teams making it to the Final Four. Although none of them have gone on to win the national championship, these underdogs have provided some of the most exciting moments in the history of the tournament. So, let's look back at some of these memorable runs and see who might surprise us this year.


George Mason Patriots, 2006


Where They Ranked: No. 11


Who They Beat: No. 6 Michigan State Spartans, No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels, No. 7 Wichita State Shockers, No. 1 UConn Huskies


Where The Run Ended: Final Four vs. No. 3 Florida Gators


George Mason's basketball team pulled off one of the biggest underdog stories in March Madness history in 2006.

Led by their coach Jim Larranaga, the Patriots entered the tournament with a 23-7 record and went on to win four straight games, including victories over several powerhouse programs. 

They became the first double-digit seed to reach the Final Four in 20 years. The story of George Mason's unlikely success continues to inspire college basketball teams to this day. Tar Heels fans would have likely lost fortunes betting against the Patriots had betting been legal in North Carolina back then. But online sports betting in NC has gone live this year so fans could try their luck, with both UNC and NC State in the Sweet 16.


Saint Peter's Peacocks, 2022


Where They Ranked: No. 15


Who They Beat: No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats, No. 7 Murray State Racers, No. 3 Purdue


Where The Run Ended: Elite Eight vs. No. 8 North Carolina


Saint Peter's, with just three previous March Madness appearances and no wins, pulled off a stunning upset against Kentucky in 2022. 

With a 19-11 record and a MAAC Tournament Championship under their belt, the Peacocks rode a seven-game win streak to become the first No. 15 seed in history to reach the Elite Eight. A true Cinderella story, this underdog team proved that anything is possible in college basketball.

"They shocked the world. You got guys that are going to be remembered for things they can tell their kids and grandkids," head coach Shaheen Holloway said. "It's a story within a story. So I'm super proud of these guys. They came in and made history. Point-blank, period."


Loyola Chicago Ramblers, 2018


Where They Ranked: No. 11


Who They Beat: No. 6 Miami Hurricanes, No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers, No. 7 Nevada Wolf Pack, No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats


Where The Run Ended: Final Four vs. No. 3 Michigan Wolverines


In the 2018 NCAA men's basketball tournament, the No. 16-seeded UMBC Retrievers pulled off a major upset over No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers, but it was Loyola Chicago and their 98-year-old chaplain Sister Jean who stole the show. 

The Ramblers won their first three games of the tournament by a combined five points and defeated the Wildcats by 16 to reach the Final Four as a No. 11 seed. Sister Jean became a household name, bringing national attention to the team's inspiring run. Although they fell short of the national championship game, Loyola Chicago's performance was unforgettable.


Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, 2013


Where They Ranked: No. 15


Who They beat: No. 2 Georgetown, No. 7 San Diego State Aztecs


Finish: Sweet 16 vs. No. 3 Florida


In 2013, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles basketball team pulled off an unprecedented feat, becoming the first-ever No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament's history. Despite being ineligible for the tournament until 2012, the Eagles managed to stun Georgetown in the opening round with an impressive second-half run and a series of high-flying dunks. 

They then shocked San Diego State with a come-from-behind victory to keep their Cinderella run alive. Although their journey eventually came to an end at the hands of the Florida Gators, the Eagles' historic run left a lasting impact on both their local and national communities. Head coach Andy Enfield praised his team's belief and dedication, noting that they had accomplished something truly special.