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March Madness Cinderella Stories: Predicting Success in Bracket Construction

The Cinderella Story in Basketball

When discussing Cinderella stories in basketball, the term refers to an unexpected underdog team that makes it far into the tournament, disproving the expectations set by the NCAA. Essentially, these are the teams that defy the odds and fulfill the definition of a fairytale.

Qualification for a Cinderella Story

For a team to qualify as a Cinderella team, they must make it to the Sweet 16 or further. This is because any team can win a round or two, but to make it consistently that far is a true testament to their skill and ability to perform under pressure.

Additionally, the team must have odds stacked against them, with low seeding and general lack of hype from commentators and public alike.

Origin of the Term

The term “Cinderella” was first used in the fairytale of the same name. In the story, Cinderella is a housemaid who, with the help of her fairy godmother, transforms into a princess and attends the royal ball where she captures the heart of the prince.

In basketball, the term was adopted to represent a lower-seeded team who went on to beat the high-seeded, expected teams and surprising the audience, just like Cinderella who captured the prince’s heart.

Examples of Cinderella Stories

Now, let’s dive into a few notable examples of Cinderella stories in basketball. Loyola Chicago’s Run in 2018

In the 2018 NCAA tournament, Loyola Chicago unexpectedly made it to the Final Four as an 11 seed.

Loyola Chicago beat every expectation that was set for them, with Sister Jean and the Ramblers capturing the hearts of fans across the country. Their tournament run was capped off with a buzzer-beater shot by Donte Ingram in their first-round matchup with Miami, which still gives chills to basketball fans.

Loyola’s story was one of perseverance and teamwork, proving that anything is possible if you work together. Syracuse’s Unexpected Path in 2016

Another great example of a Cinderella story is Syracuse’s unexpected path to the Final Four in 2016 as a 10 seed.

They beat some of the biggest names in the game to make it that far, including a victory over the UNC Tar Heels to get to the Final Four. The Orange had not one, but two buzzer-beaters in the tournament with Malachi Richardson sinking the final shot against Virginia in the Elite Eight.

The Orange’s story was one of triumph against all odds, showing the true spirit of March Madness.


In conclusion, Cinderella stories in basketball are about unexpected underdog teams that capture the attention and hearts of fans during the NCAA tournament. The key to being a Cinderella team is defying expectations, going beyond the Sweet 16, and surprising the audience with an unprecedented performance.

With examples like Loyola Chicago and Syracuse, we are reminded that anything can happen in basketball and that the underdog can emerge victorious with enough determination and teamwork. Its why we love March Madness.

Impact on Bracket Construction

When filling out a March Madness bracket, predicting the success of a Cinderella story is vital to constructing a winning bracket. Identifying which low-seeded team is poised for an upset can give a bracketeer an edge in their competition.

Additionally, recognizing Cinderella stories can add an extra level of excitement to the tournament experience. Predicting a Cinderella Story’s Success

To predict a Cinderella story’s success, there are a few factors to consider.

Firstly, the team must make it to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond. This generally means they have beaten teams with higher seeds, which is a promising sign.

The next factor to consider is the difficulty of their matchups leading up to the Sweet Sixteen. If they were lucky enough to face weak teams or teams that were overrated by the selection committee, they may not have truly proved themselves yet.

Finally, it is essential to look at the team’s roster and playing style. Do they have a star player that can dominate a game?

Do they play an unorthodox style that could throw opponents off guard? If a team has a combination of these factors, they may be the Cinderella story to watch in the tournament.

Importance of Identifying a Cinderella Story

Identifying a Cinderella story can drastically improve a bracketeer’s chances of winning their pool. Picking the right low-seeded team to make a deep run in the tournament can be just as valuable as picking the eventual winner.

It’s also important to note that not all Cinderella stories will make it to the Final Four or beyond, but even picking one to make it to the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight can help distinguish a bracket from the competition. Picking an underdog can be a risky move, but one that can pay off big time if done right.

March Madness Bracket Construction

When constructing a March Madness bracket, there are a few strategies to consider. One of the most important is balancing risks and rewards.

Picking too many favorites will likely result in a competitive but not unique bracket. Picking too many underdogs is risky and may not pan out, but also sets a bracketeer apart from the competition.

Cinderella stories are a great way to strike a balance between risks and rewards. Selecting a low seed that has a chance to make it far in the tournament can provide a unique and exciting bracket experience.

Additionally, balancing Cinderella stories with the top-seeded teams can provide a well-rounded bracket.


At the end of the day, predicting a Cinderella team’s success is never a guarantee. Any team can get hot and make a deep run in the tournament, or lose in the first round.

It’s important to use data, historical trends, and one’s own knowledge of the game to make informed predictions. Ultimately, it’s the unexpected turns and upsets that make March Madness the most exciting tournament in sports.

Cinderella stories are just one way bracketeers can add to that excitement and make their March Madness experience one to remember. In conclusion, predicting a Cinderella story’s success can be a useful strategy in constructing a successful March Madness bracket.

Identifying the right low-seeded team requires a consideration of a team’s successes leading up to the Sweet Sixteen, their roster and playing style, and the difficulty of their matchups. Picking a Cinderella story can add an extra level of excitement to the tournament experience and help distinguish a bracket from the competition.

By balancing risks and rewards, bracketeers can create unique, fun, and potentially winning March Madness brackets. In conclusion, Cinderella stories in basketball play a significant role in March Madness and bracket construction.

Predicting their success involves taking into account their success leading up to the Sweet Sixteen, their roster and playing style, and the difficulty of their matchups. Identifying the right Cinderella story can help make a bracket stand out and improve a bracketeers’ chances of winning.

By balancing risks and rewards, bracketeers can create unique and potentially winning brackets. Overall, the excitement, unpredictability, and spirit of the Cinderella story make March Madness an unforgettable tournament experience.


Q: What is a Cinderella story in basketball? A: A Cinderella story in basketball refers to an underdog team that exceeds expectations, making a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

Q: What are the qualifications for a Cinderella story? A: For a team to qualify as a Cinderella story, they must make it to the Sweet 16 or further and have a low seeding with their odds stacked against them.

Q: Why is identifying a Cinderella story important in bracket construction? A: Identifying a Cinderella story in bracket construction can differentiate a bracket from the competition and improve their chances of winning.

Q: How can you predict a Cinderella story’s success? A: To predict a Cinderella story’s success, you must take into account a team’s successes leading up to the Sweet 16, their roster and playing style, and the difficulty of their matchups.

Q: What is the significance of Cinderella stories in basketball? A: Cinderella stories add excitement and unpredictability to March Madness, making it one of the most unforgettable tournament experiences.

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