Defining “Cinderella”

Defining a “Cinderella”

We all know what a Cinderella is, right? It’s the small team the out plays the giants. It’s the belle of the ball who has no business being there.

A pet peeve of March Madness is the desire to name a Cinderella. Let’s be clear there isn’t always a Cinderella. Not every tournament is going to have a one, so let’s not make one just to have headlines. 

But what are the criteria for a Cinderella in March Madness?


You cannot have a Cinderella who is a 6 seed or better.  Gonzaga is ranked #1, they are not a Cinderella.

Smaller Schooler from a Mid-Major Conference

Northwestern cannot be a Cinderella. They are one of the most prestigious schools in the country and compete in the BIG TEN. There is nothing Cinderella about that.

Must make it to the Elite 8

Just beating a top seed does not make one a Cinderella, you must make it through 3 full wins before you can be eligible.

So let’s look back at the last few season to determine if we had a Cinderella


The Year of Loyola-Chicago

This was one of the great, true Cinderella years. Loyola-Chicago was an #11 seed from the Missouri Valley Conference. They made it to the Final 4 before losing to Michigan.

This is textbook definition of a what a Cinderella Story looks like.


In the Elite 8 there was:

#4 Florida, #7 South Carolina, #1 Gonzaga, #11 Xavier, #1 Kansas, #3 Oregon, #1 North Carolina, #2 Kentucky.

Underrated: 2 seeds about 6 made it to the Elite 8, #7 South Carolina and #11 Xavier.

Smaller School from a Mid Major: None of those teams qualify. South Carolina plays in the SEC and Xavier the Big East.

No Cinderella’s in the 2017 NCAA tournament.

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