A Cinderella team is a team who achieves way more than they were projected to. They are sometimes referred to as “giant-killers” if they beat a team that was a favorite to win the Championship. Applying this to March Madness, these teams usually win more than one game and are seeded 6th or lower.
Cinderella and giant-killer teams have produced a lot of noise in March Madness, beating teams that were thought to be unbeatable and going deep into the tournament.
Most notable examples would include last year when the 16th seed University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) was the first 16th seed to beat a 1st seed, Virginia, in the first round. Similarly, the 11th seed Loyola-Chicago went all the way to the Final Four.
There have been numerous Cinderella teams in the past, and there is almost always one or more Cinderella teams every year in March Madness, so who are some candidates for this year’s tournament?
12th Seed Murray State
This Murray State team (27-4) is led by their skilled point guard Ja Morant who is averaging 24 points per game (PPG) and 10 assists per game (APG) this season. With Morant leading the team, they are averaging 83.3 PPG, which is tied for 10th in the nation, and currently have an 11 game win streak, including their conference tournament in which they won. Keep an eye out for a possible upset when they take on 5th seed Marquette on Thursday at 1:30PM on TBS.
12th Seed New Mexico State
The New Mexico State Aggies (30-4) is a perfect example of “teamwork makes the dream work” as they have 15 guys averaging between 2-12 PPG, and have won 30 games. Since January 3rd, they have not lost a game which equates to a 19 game winning streak. The Aggies look to make it 20 wins in a row as they play 5th seed Auburn on Thursday at 10:30AM on TNT.
6th Seed Iowa State
The Big 12 Tournament winner, Iowa State Cyclones (23-11), love to play in big games. They have compelling regular season wins such as 4th seed Kansas twice, 3rd seed Texas Tech, 8th seed Mississippi, and 4th seed Kansas State. Also, this Cyclones team has numerous shooters, like Marial Shayok and Talen Horton-Tucker, who can all make big shots at crucial points in a game. Iowa State looks to shoot their way into the second round as they face 11th seed Ohio State on Friday at 6:50PM on TBS.
13th Seed UC Irvine
The University of California Irvine Anteaters (30-5) is another team that could be a bracket-breaker. The Anteaters have won 16 straight games and Kansas State could be missing two starting forwards, Dean Wade (injury) and Xavier Sneed (illness), so they will be vulnerable since they don’t have much depth to their roster. UC Irvine will look to capitalize on 4th seed Kansas State’s weakness when they play on Friday at 11:00AM on TBS.
Other notable teams that could potentially be giant-killers are the 14th seed Georgia State, and 7th seed Wofford.
Georgia State was known for being a giant-killer back in 2015 when they knocked off 3rd seeded Baylor in the first round. They’ll attempt to be a giant-killer again on Friday when they play 3rd seed Houston at 4:20PM on TBS.
Wofford isn’t playing a giant in the first round, but if they win their first game, they will most likely play #2 seed Kentucky, who is a giant, in the second round. These Wofford Terriers have been really hot as of late, so expect them to try and continue that when they play 10th seed Seton Hall on Thursday at 6:40PM on CBS.
Another potential Cinderella team is Belmont. They will have to finish business with Temple on Tuesday in one of the First Four games, but if they do, this team definitely has a chance to knock off 6th seed Maryland.
Make sure all brackets are done before 9AM on March 21st, or else you might not have a chance at a perfect bracket.