With Butler and Virginia Commonwealth having advanced to this year's Final Four, I figure now would be a good time to recount the great Cinderella runs we've seen over the past 20 years.
These teams are the 14- and 15-seeds that have surprised the nation, the 12-seeds that have advanced to the Sweet 16, and, of course, the mid-majors that have made it to the Final Four.
But how does one determine whether or not a team is truly a Cinderella?
If a team advances to the Final Four like George Mason did in 2006, or to the Championship Game like Butler did this year and in 2010, can they really be considered a Cinderella?
I believe they can.
In 2000, Florida, just like Butler, advanced to the Championship Game as a No 5 seed. So are they a Cinderella?
I would say no, because, much of being a Cinderella is coming from a smaller, lesser-known school. It is about being one of the first teams from your program to leave its imprint on the NCAA Tournament.
At Florida, they had a team that advanced to the Final Four in 1994—Butler did not have any recent history comparable to that.
That's not to say that a school from one of the BCS Conferences can't be a Cinderella.
Aren't North Carolina and Wisconsin's respective runs to the Final Four as No. 8 seeds in 2000 worthy or this kind of distinction?
But, for a school from one of the major conferences to be on this list, it will have to have accomplished quite a bit. The sixth-place team from the Big 12 winning a game or two as a No. 12 seed doesn't have the same aura and mystique associated with it as does a No. 12 seed from the Missouri Valley Conference or the Mid-American Conference winning a few games in the tournament.
Enjoy the countdown....