In the matter of one game in March Madness, a team can go from a no-name school to a household name. A lot of the schools on this list most people have never heard of, but after their historic upsets and magical runs through the NCAA tournament, they’ll never be forgotten.

Here are the six Cinderella teams. The six best cinderella runs of the past decade.


In 2013, Gregg Marshall and Wichita State made a statement that they were one of the best mid-major programs in the country. As a No. 9 seed, the Shockers reached the Final Four and nearly reached the title game. In the upcoming years, Wichita State would be a force in the Missouri Valley Conference and the NCAA Tournament. Their recent dominance started in 2013.

In the second round of the tournament, they took down the Pittsburgh Panthers, 73-55. Their next game was maybe their toughest test going up against top seed, Gonzaga. The Shockers weren’t intimidated by the atmosphere or the Bulldogs and lived up to their name shocking Gonzaga, 76-70.

In the Sweet Sixteen, Wichita State faced No. 13 seed La Salle, a matchup not many saw coming. The Shockers ended La Salle’s magical run of their own and advanced to the Elite Eight. The Shockers were 40 minutes away from their second Final Four appearance in school history.

Wichita State faced off against Aaron Craft and Ohio State, in a highly competitive contest. The game was tight for much of the second half, but the Shockers leaned on their defense as they had all tournament and some clutch free-throw shooting to get past the Buckeyes and advance to the Final Four.


Gregg Marshall and his program had reached the pinnacle of the sport. In the national semifinal, the Shockers played Louisville, who was the Number one overall seed in 2013. Wichita State gave the Cardinals all they could handle, playing them closer than any team had up to that point. In the end, the Shockers would fall to the Cardinals who went on to the win the championship. This Final Four run catapulted the Shockers into next season where they went 35-0 before falling in the second round to Kentucky by.


2013 had a crazy NCAA Tournament because not only did you have Wichita State busting the bracket, Florida Gulf Coast did as well.

The Eagles were making their first tournament appearance in school history as a  No. 15 seed and played Georgetown in the second round. Early on it was evident FGCU was not intimidated in the slightest by Georgetown. The Eagles were playing with supreme confidence and started to play with the lead in the second half. After some memorable dunks late in the game to seal the victory, FGCU became the seventh No. 15 seed to upset a No. 2 seed.

FGCU moved on to play San Diego State attempting to become the first No. 15 seed to win two games. All that confidence from the Georgetown game carried over. They went on to win 81-71, beating both Georgetown and San Diego State by 10.

In the Sweet Sixteen, we had an All-Sunshine State matchup between Florida and FGCU. FGCU got off to a great early start and the thought crept into people’s heads “Could they really win again?”. Florida woke up and started to get going. FGCU at that point was no match for the Gators and lost 62-50.

Even in a loss, the Eagles made history just by playing in the game. Who knows how long it will take until we see another No. 15 seed in the Sweet Sixteen, but they’ll always be the first team that achieved that feat.

4. VCU - 2011

What made VCU’s run to the Final Four so incredible was where they started. The Rams were one of the last four teams selected into the NCAA tournament. As a result, the Rams had to play a First Four game, in Dayton, against USC. Many were surprised to see the Rams make the tournament, but they got their chance and took full advantage of it.

After beating USC in the First Four in a very low scoring game, the Rams found their rhythm in their next two games. They waxed No. 6 seed Georgetown and No. 3 seed Purdue both by 18 points. Eventually, in the NCAA tournament you’re going to play a close game and the Rams did against Florida State in the Sweet Sixteen.

The game between the Rams and Seminoles would go to overtime, as VCU inched their way past Florida State, 72-71. VCU’s magical season was alive, but waiting for them in the Elite Eight was the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks.


Kansas had rolled through the first three rounds, led by the Morris twins who were matchup nightmares for any team they played. The great equalizer for any underdog team is the 3-point shot and that was the story of this game. VCU was 12-25 from 3-point range while Kansas was a woeful, 2-21.

VCU pulled off the massive upset over Kansas and became just the third No. 11 seed to make the Final Four. In a Final Four no one saw coming, No. 8 seed Butler knocked off VCU. The magical season came to an abrupt end for VCU, but for a team who almost didn’t make the tournament they were two more wins away from being champions.

3. Loyola-Chicago - 2018

Just two years ago, the Ramblers marched their way to the Final Four. Three of their wins came in dramatic fashion. In the first round, the Ramblers played the University of Miami and stunned the Hurricanes after a last-second three dropped at the buzzer.

In the second round, it was déjà vu for Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers trailing by one with time winding down, their leader, Clayton Custer hit a mid-range jumper with 3.6 seconds left to play. On the ensuing possession, Tennessee got off a decent look at a 3-pointer, but it wouldn’t fall and the Ramblers had won their first two games by a combined three points.

In the Sweet Sixteen, the Ramblers and Nevada played an instant classic. With six seconds left, Marques Townes buried a 3-pointer in the right corner to give the Ramblers the lead by four and ultimately the win.

In the Elite Eight, the Ramblers finally had a little more comfortable of a game. A 16-point victory over  No. 1 seed Kansas State to advance to the Final Four.

The Ramblers faced Michigan and were looking good up by seven at halftime. The lead got to as high as 10 points before the Wolverines went on a 22-6 run to take the lead by six. After that they wouldn’t look back. A historic run by the Ramblers, who put their school on the map and had some incredible finishes that they’ll be talking about for a long time in Chicago.

2. Butler 2010 and 2011

In 2010 and 2011, Butler made the National Championship Game in back-to-back years. They were one of two teams in the past decade to make it to the title game in back-to-back years joining North Carolina in 2016-2017.

Both of Butler’s runs were very impressive. In 2010, they were a No. 5 seed in the West Region. They blew out of the No. 12 seed UTEP and then had three tough games in a row to get to the Final Four. They barely got past No. 13 seed Murray State before upsetting the top seed Syracuse 63-59.  They then defeated the Kansas State in the Elite Eight.

The close games didn’t stop for Butler. They played two nail biters in the Final Four and championship game. They were able to survive the Final Four vs. Michigan, 52-50, but came up just short against Duke, 61-59. Gordon Hayward had a half-court heave as time expired and it hit off the front of the rim.


After the 2010 team, the expectation for Butler, especially as a No. 8 seed this time around, was to just win one game, two at most. They won their second-round game against Old Dominion at the buzzer, 60-58. In the Round of 32, once again, for the second year in a row, they upset the top seed in their region. This time it was Pittsburgh, 71-70. They took down Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen and Florida in overtime, in the Elite Eight, and they were back to the Final Four.

As mentioned, VCU also had a magical tournament run in 2011 and these two teams faced off for a chance to play for a championship. Butler was too much and for the second year in a row under Brad Stevens, the Bulldogs made it to the title game. Butler picked the worst time to play, by far, their worst tournament game in two years. After leading at halftime 22-19, they simply just could not score in the second half. Connecticut couldn’t muster many points either, but they were able to get enough behind Kemba Walker to take down Butler, 51-43.

Even though Butler didn’t win it either year making it to the Championship two years in a row, as a mid-major, is pretty incredible.

1. UMBC- 2018

Although UMBC’s run only lasted one game there’s no question they very the biggest Cinderella story. No. 16 seeds were 0-131 vs No. 1 seeds. Some have come close, but could never finish the job until the Retrievers did. What made this game between UMBC and Virginia so incredible wasn’t just the fact UMBC won, but how they won. They didn’t just beat Virginia, they embarrassed them.

Virginia was 31-2 on the season heading into their game vs UMBC. Only two losses for a team that plays in the best conference in college basketball, the ACC. As talented as Virginia was, they play at a very slow pace. If teams knock down their shots against UVA they tend to get in some trouble.

Virginia had the best defense in the country so teams making their shots was easier said than done. That night UMBC shot a very high percentage, mostly from 3-point range. The Retrievers shot 26-48 from the field and 12-24 from 3-point range. Nearly half of UMBC’s points came from behind the arc.

Eventually, as we approached the last couple minutes of the game, UMBC continued to extend their lead and pour it on Virginia. They won 74-54, winning by 20 points against the top overall seed. In the Second Round, they nearly won again playing a close game with Kansas State. As hot as UMBC was from the field against UVA they couldn’t buy a bucket against the Wildcats. UMBC only won one game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament, but it’s the most significant win any team has ever had in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.