Why Butler, VCU and the Cinderella Teams Are Great for the NCAA Tournament

PJ SapienzaContributor IIIApril 1, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 19:  Eric Maynor #3 and Joey Rodriguez #12 of the VCU Rams look on during the game against the UCLA Bruins during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Wachovia Center on March 19, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Bruins defeated the Rams 65-64.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

There are some out there that complain when they see teams such as Butler and VCU invade the final four.  Apparently, they believe, such hallowed ground is only meant for the truest of pedigreed programs.

Teams such as Butler, VCU and George Mason are what have made the tournament great.  The popularity of the tournament has never been higher.  Early round upsets have always been a part of the allure of the tournament but over the past 10 years we have seen a rise in higher seeded teams making it the Elite Eight and now the Final Four.

We are a nation that loves underdogs.  Our great Statue of Liberty reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  Our nation is the ultimate underdog story.  We need teams such as these to succeed.

Quick, when you think championship NCAA moments what comes to mind?  Odds are that one of your first thoughts was of Jim Valvano running around the court after his surprising NC State team won the 1983 title.

Of course we love a proven winner. Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina have their place as the giants of the game.  Their importance is not just for the adoration of their fans but also as the teams that other people just love to hate.  The underdog story is what attracts us. 

Everyone is so attached the BCS schools.  Those conferences account for roughly 70 schools.  But let’s be honest, when people talk BCS schools they don’t consider Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Baylor and such.  So the number of top level school is very small.  Most people, if they went to college, graduated from one of the 4,000 other colleges and universities across the United States. The smaller schools like Butler and VCU represent more of the people.

What does yet another championship for UConn or Kentucky mean?  They already have nine titles between them.  A week from now nobody outside of Lexington or Storrs will care if either of them win it all.  But if Butler or VCU win, it will be the feel good story that will last awhile.   

NC State and Villanova currently top the list of all time upset winners.  It is time for another Cinderella to join them among.  Luckily with VCU and Butler matching up in the semi-finals, we are guaranteed to have a Cinderella in the finals.  Hopefully the slipper will be the perfect fit for one of them.