If the Glass Slipper Fits: March Madness Cinderella Teams
By Meghan Gallary and Sophia Nadler
Everyone loves a Cinderella story, especially NCAA basketball fans rooting for a No. 8 seed or lower. The sheer plotline of an unheralded team making a deep tournament run is thrilling regardless of top picks, bracket upsets, or rivalries. As the end of the 2023 March Madness season quickly approaches, let's take a look at this year’s foremost Cinderella teams and some surprising statistics about results thus far.
The University of Miami Hurricanes
In the 2023 women’s bracket, Cinderella sported green and orange slippers as the University of Miami Hurricanes lived up to their name, taking the tournament by storm. Placed as the No. 9 seed on Selection Sunday, the Canes were not considered a shoo-in for March Madness. It’s safe to say they exceeded expectations as they clinched a spot in the Elite Eight after their five-point win over the No. 4 seed, Villanova University Wildcats. The team’s previous tournament wins include victories over the No. 8 seed, Oklahoma State Cowgirls, and the No. 1 seed, Indiana University Hoosiers.
Miami’s most famous player duo, the Cavinder Twins, came into March Madness balancing TikTok fame. Haley and Hanna Cavinder are part of a prominent group of high-earning NIL influencers among the likes of Olivia Dunne and Paige Bueckers. In between VLOGs and brand promotional posts, the two often capture time spent with family and friends. During the initial rounds of March Madness, a family member’s health emergency threatened to throw them off their game. The twins stated in a YouTube video that despite their emotions being “all over the place,” they wanted to head into the game ready to fight for the win. While the Cavinder Twins were able to lead the Canes to the Elite 8, the No. 3 seed, Louisiana State University Tigers eventually stole their ticket to the Final Four last Sunday, with a final score of 54-42.
The two Final Four games determining who will make it to the 2023 NCAA Women’s March Madness Championship will take place later today, Friday, March 31. The No. 3. seed, LSU Tigers will play the No. 1 seed, Virginia Tech Hokies at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. On the same court two and a half hours later, another No. 1 seed, University of South Carolina Gamecocks, will battle the No. 2 seed, University of Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Princeton University Tigers
In this year's men's division, Cinderella traded in her baby blue gown for one with orange, black, and white stripes. The Princeton University Tigers were named the No. 15 seed on Selection Sunday and made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen after beating the No. 2 seed, University of Arizona Wildcats, and the No. 7 seed, University of Missouri Tigers. Princeton was taken down in the Sweet Sixteen by the No. 6 seed, the Creighton University Bluejays, with a final score of 86-75.
Despite the loss, many are taking note of how this iconic Princeton team came to be. One player so integral to the team’s run, Tosan Evbuomwan, hails from Newcastle, England. Associate head coach, Brett MacConnell, took a flight across the Atlantic Ocean to meet the star back in 2019. During the trip, MacConnell watched Evbuomwan’s team lose by a landslide. Nevertheless, he recognized Evbuomwan’s potential as a play-starter with consistent, strategic passing skills. Princeton took a chance on the English forward, and the rest is history. Even head coach, Mitch Henderson, is adamant that the passing ability of this current Princeton squad is unlikely to occur again for another 50 years.
Men’s Final Four games will take place without Princeton tomorrow, Saturday, April 1. The No. 5 seed, San Diego State University Aztecs, will face off against the No. 9 seed, Florida Atlantic University Owls, and the No. 5 seed, University of Miami Hurricanes, will take on the No. 4 seed, University of Connecticut Huskies.
While neither of the Cinderella teams have made it through to the Final Four, they did lend a hand in making tournament history. This is the first year ever in March Madness that all of the men’s No. 1 seeds have been eliminated before the Elite Eight and the first time in 12 years that a men’s No. 1 seed has not made it to the Final Four. This year’s No. 1 seeds were the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, the University of Houston Cougars, the University of Kansas Jayhawks, and the Purdue University Boilermakers. No fairytales will be coming true for the Canes or Tigers this season, but fans can still look forward to the upcoming championship games. The women’s will take place on Sunday, April 2 and the men’s the following day, Monday, April 3.