Top 5 NCAA Tournament Cinderella Runs

Cinderella runs in the NCAA Tournament are always memorable, as they often involve unexpected teams making deep runs against the odds. Here are five notable Cinderella runs in NCAA Tournament history:

1985 Villanova Wildcats

Villanova, as an eighth seed in the 1985 tournament, had to defeat top-seeded Georgetown in the championship game to secure the title. The Wildcats executed a nearly flawless game plan to upset the heavily favored Hoyas, winning 66-64 in one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history.

2006 George Mason Patriots

The Patriots, an 11th seed, made an improbable run to the Final Four. Along the way, they defeated powerhouses like Michigan State, North Carolina and Connecticut before falling to eventual champion Florida in the semifinals. Their Cinderella story captured the imagination of fans everywhere.

2011 VCU Rams

VCU, an 11th seed, went on a remarkable run to reach the Final Four. They defeated traditional powerhouses like Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas to become the third 11th seed to make it to the Final Four, eventually losing to Butler in the semifinals.

2013 Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles

FGCU, a 15th seed, became the first 15th seed in NCAA history to advance to the Sweet 16. Dubbed “Dunk City” for their high-flying style of play, the Eagles captured the nation’s attention with upset wins over Georgetown and San Diego State before falling to Florida in the Sweet 16.

2018 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

Loyola-Chicago, an 11th seed, captivated the nation with their magical run to the Final Four. Led by Sister Jean and their team-first mentality, the Ramblers upset Miami, Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State to reach the Final Four for the first time since 1963, eventually falling to Michigan in the semifinals.

Final Thoughts

These Cinderella runs showcase the unpredictability and excitement of March Madness, where any team can rise up and make a historic run in the NCAA Tournament. 

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Dan Zielinski III
Dan Zielinski III
Dan Zielinski III is the creator of Mid-Major Basketball and has covered college basketball since 2013. He grew up around mid-major college basketball and has developed a strong passion for writing stories as an award-winning journalist. He has extensive experience covering the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Panthers and Nebraska Cornhuskers as a credentialed media member. His website,, is a leading source for MLB draft content.

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