Does the slipper fit?

The recent run by the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in the NCAA tournament was one that was unforgettable. They were unlike any other Cinderella story that we have seen. Most of these teams that make runs do it with great teamwork and sound fundamental basketball and they happen to get very hot at the right time. FGCU was different in that it had the athletes to compete with the big boys, as evident by easily cruising past Georgetown. This historical run naturally got me to thinking about the best of these types of stories that have happened over the years. Many examples are out there and it was tough to decide a top ten but this is what I came up with 10) The 2000 Wisconsin Badgers The badgers struggled for most of the regular season but, like all good stories, got hot at the right time and got into the tournament as an eight seed. They quickly found their backs against the wall when they went up against the number one seeded Arizona Wildcats. They carried their momentum from the end of the season into this one and upset Arizona. They went on to beat fourth seeded LSU and the six seed Purdue. They met the overall number one seeded Spartans of Michigan State in the final four and lost. That was the end of an almost historic run. 9) The 2008 Davidson Wildcats These Wildcats were led by star guard Stephen Curry. Stephen single handedly carried Davison to the elite eight. He scored at least 25 points in each of his games in that tournament. Curry went off for thirty in the second half of the Gonzaga game and help his team advance. They then took on the second seeded Georgetown Hoyas, where Curry scored thirty-one points in a comeback which had them down by seventeen at half time. Next was the three seed Wisconsin Badgers. Curry, no matter who guarding him, did what he does and scored all over Wisconsin. He ended with thirty-three points to advance to the elite eight. There Davidson met up with the one seeded Kansas Jayhawks. Not even Curry’s twenty five point effort could record them a win. Many people thought it was Davidson that wast he team of destiny that year but Kansas proved that wrong with a miraculous run to the championship. 8) The 2011 VCU Rams This was about the time everyone was actually introduced to VCU as a basketball threat. It was the helter skelter defensive style that really gave teams fits. Full court man to man press, nonstop in your face basketball was what Shaka Smart taught his players. They had the offense to match that style getting up and down the court as fast as they could. They won their first two games of the tournament by at least eighteen points. Their toughest battle was in the sweet sixteen against tenth seed Florida State. They edged out ao ne point victory in that game and went on to beat the one seeded Kansas Jayhawks by ten to get to the final four. They were the third eleven seed to get to the final four but that is where it stopped because they ran into Butler and their run was over. 7) 2013 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles This year Andy Enfield got his Eagles the fifteen seed and a date with Georgetown in the first round. It was a very convincing ten point win over the Hoyas and a very shocking first round upset. It was the athleticism of the Eagles that surprised everyone, especially Georgetown, and that is why everyone jumped on board. The high flying eagles took out SDSU in the round of thirty two and met up with the Florida Gators. They ended up losing to the Gators after a stellar start to that game. It was a big drought towards the end of the first half that did the Eagles in and they didn’trecover from it. They may not have gotten to the elite eight, but as a fifteen seed advancing to the sweet sixteen was something to see. 6) 2011 Butler Bulldogs It was unfortunate for VCU that they also had a Cinderella in their bracket because they might hav e made the championship if it wasn’t for Butler. Butler had lost the title game a year before to Duke and was looking for revenge. They had lost star player Gordon Hayward to the NBA but that didn’t get them down. This was your typical Cinderella team that just had fundamentals, heart, a great coach, and got hot. Butler had two thrillers beating one seed Pitt by one in second round and then Florida by three in the elite eight. They got past VCU in the final four and got a super-hot UCONN team in the finals. Their streak ended on a sour note losing the championship again in one of the worst offensive championship games ever. 5) The 1990 Loyola Marymount Lions The Lions had one of the most explosive offensives in the country that year with Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble leading the charge. Basketball was quickly the farthest thing from their minds when Gathers collapse on the court against Portland in theWCC conference tournament and died on the court. The lions scored over one hundred points in their first two games, scoring 149 in the second round beating Michigan. The eleven seed just slipped by Alabama in the sweet sixteen and finally lost to the eventual champion UNLV. They were a fun, high scoring team that went througha lot of adversity and that is what was special about this group. 4) The 1988 Kansas Jayhawks Kansas had the best player in the entire country that year in Danny Manning. However, Kansas got a six seed entering the NCAA tournament and had lost eleven games during the regular season. They were almost upset in the second round by fourteenth seeded Murray State. The squeaked by them and convincingly got tot he final four. They did have to take on the fourth seed and in state rival Kansas State in the elite eight. They went on to play the one seed Oklahoma in the title game and Danny Manning led them to a national title. This may have been the best team on the list but not too many six seeds go on to win the whole thing. 3) The 2006 George Mason Patriots There was much controversy surrounding the Patriots going into the tournament because some experts said that they shouldn’t have even received a bid. They did, as an eleven seed, and proved all the experts wrong. In their run they took out national powers Michigan State, North Carolina, and UCONN. UCONN was a one seed in the tournament and many picked them to win the whole thing. The Patriots shocked everyone by taking them out and advancing to the final four. They ended up losing to the eventual champion Florida Gators but had one of the most historical runs ever. 2) The 1983 NC State Wolfpack The wolfpack wasn’t even supposed to get into the tournament that year but they went on a tear and ended up winning the ACC tournament to get an automatic bid. With this they got a six seed and didn’t look back. It was a struggle at first because State won their first two games by a combined three points, but survived and moved on. They handeled Utah in the regional semifinals and went on to face conference rival Virginia in the regional finals. They ended up beating the Cavs by one point and knocking off basketball legend Ralph Sampson to get to the final four. State beat Georgia in the final four and had a date Houston, who was the favorite to win it all. Houston had two future NBA great on their team in Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The wolfpack weren’t intimidated and took Houston down to the wire. It came down toa last second shot by Derrick Whittenburg that was short but a put back slamdunk by Lorenzo Charles at the buzzer gave them the win. The first proverbial David had taken down Goliath. 1) 1) The 1985 Villanova Wildcats The eight seed Wildcats went into the tournament quietly and no one expected much out of them. They got to the second round and had a matchup with one seed Michigan. They went on to take out Michigan by four and then took down Maryland and UNC to get to the final four. They took out Memphis State in the final four and had to take on Georgetown in the finals. The Wildcats took down the mighty Hoyas by two point and became the highest seed to ever win the tournament. That being said, I think that it is safe to say they were the best Cinderella story of the past 35 years.