In any Big Dance story, all eyes go to the Cinderella in the room. But as we head into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this year, all eyes are on the Cinderellas. As in all four of them.
It wouldn’t be March Madness without a few underdogs pulling an upset or two. But to have Butler, Northern Iowa, Cornell, and St Mary’s—all lower-ranked seeds—going to the Sweet 16 dance is practically unheard of.
The other day I wrote a post asking, Will the Real Cinderella team Please Stand Up? I’m a sucker for a Cinderella story so I want to know which one is the true princess…er, prince…of the dance so I can officially declare my allegiance to them in the tourney.
But the more I thought about it, these four underdogs heading into the next round, the more I’m left wondering, can too many Cinderellas ruin the big dance?
I don’t think the Big Dance is ruined quite yet. In fact, I’m okay with the four teams going into the Sweet 16. Gives us all something to talk about. And you know millions will be tuning in to see which of the four manages to pull off the next round upset and declares “We’re the Cinderella Team, bitch.”
Afterall, don’t we all love a good underdog story? That’s why movies like Rocky, Rudy, The Bad News Bears, the Mighty Ducks, etc., capture our hearts.
But can you imagine if all four teams manage an upset and land in the Elite 8? It would be like watching Dancing with the Stars with the final four contestants as Jerry Springer, Cloris Leachman, John Ratzenberger, and George Hamilton.
As it is right now, a quarter of the Sweet 16 can be considered Cinderella teams (and that’s not including Michigan State who was arguably last year’s Cinderella story despite being a No. 3 seed. They are back this year and again, no one expected much from them).
Can all four teams really pull off an upset, probably not. But if they do, half of the Elite 8 would be underdogs. Might as well call it the Extra Ordinary 8 (please note that is Extra Ordinary not, extraordinary)
If it were to happen, the East Region would have Cornell against Washington for the Elite 8 matchup. Their own students wouldn’t fill their field houses for a regular season matchup of those two teams, why on earth would the entire nation tune in to watch it?
Al Dannity of Sports Interaction said it best. In fact, he took the words right out of my mouth even in his headline, “Too Many Cinderellas Ruin the Fairy Tale.”
“If one of Butler, Northern Iowa, Cornell, or St Mary’s make the Final Four it will be great for Basketball. If all four do it would be nothing short of a disaster. A great tale of fantasy and romance has room for just one Cinderella at the ball.”
And this year, well it kinda feels like Prom with all the Prom Court nominees in a catfight vying to be the Queen. It’s a total distraction from the Big Dance and it’s pulling everyone’s attention away from the rest of the hoopla (yes, hoop-la was a semi-intention pun.)
Plus, as Tom Van Riper from Forbes.com pointed out,
"It’s just that too many Cinderella’s dilute the story. The occasional upset is always fun and is part of the tournament’s charm. Plenty of fans undoubtedly got a kick out of Ohio University’s thrashing of Georgetown and Old Dominion’s squeaker over Notre Dame. But do most fans necessarily want to see Ohio U. and Old Dominion a round later? No, they want to see Georgetown and Notre Dame.”
Think about it.
What if the glass slipper fit Cinderella, all her step-sisters, and her step-mom? It would have been a totally different story, that’s for sure!
My only hope as we go into the Sweet 16, is that the real Cinderella takes the throne and the others fall. I do hope one makes it through because like I said, we all love a good Cinderella story!
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