March Madness is once again upon us! Conference tournament games are underway, with winners getting automatic bids in the 2022 NCAA Tournament while a selection committee picks 36 teams.
Official brackets or the list of teams in March Madness are available on Selection Sunday, March 13. And the internet is abuzz with questions like how many teams are in March Madness and the best teams in NCAA tournament. With the Final Four (April 2) and the championship (April 4), a lot can happen.
Top teams include:
The Gonzaga Bulldogs (24-3)
Talk about Chet-ting your shot and right on Timme! Despite losing to St. Mary’s, watch for Drew Timme (17.6-points/game) and Chet Holmgren (7-foot freshman, 14.4-points/game, 9.7 rebounds).
The Arizona Wildcats (28-3)
With stellar standout Bennedict Mathurin (sophomore, 17.3-pts/game), the 1-seed Wildcats won 12 out of 13 games, with ten games by 10-points+. Full speed ahead on this Point Xpress!
Duke Blue Devils (26-5)
Mike Krzyzewski’s team often outperforms in March. The No. 1-seed team has Paolo Banchero (freshman, 17.1-points, 7.7 rebounds). He is among five players averaging 10.3 points per game. All hail the point gods!
If you are betting on March Madness games, the odds are:
- Gonzaga: +350 (bet $100, win $350)
- Arizona: +700
- Kentucky: +700
- Purdue: +1100
- Duke: +1200
- Auburn: +1200
- Baylor: +1400
- Kansas: +1400
- UCLA: +2500
- Villanova: +2500
- Texas Tech: +2500
- Tennessee: +3500
- Houston: +4000
- Illinois: +5000
- Wisconsin: +5000
Read about the biggest NCAA Cinderella teams below, and get your predictions ready!
What is a Cinderella Team in March Madness?
Each spring, 68 men’s college basketball teams vie for a Tournament spot. The brackets print out, office pools start, and sports fans place their bets. However, a Cinderella run can start, where teams (out of nowhere) go on a sudden winning streak.
With March Madness Cinderella stories, the true belles of the ball include past favorites like UMBC (2018) and Davidson (2008).
The odds of scoring a perfect bracket and March Madness’s winners are like 1 in 9.2 quintillions. So, pick your faves but prepare for a few upsets.
Biggest Cinderella Teams In March Madness History
In picking Cinderella teams, March Madness favorites are usually underdogs who cause the most upheavals with consecutive wins as they head to the big dance. Take Loyola Chicago (Top 15). They dominated Illinois State and won four tournaments to secure a Final Four spot.
Here are a few amazing Cinderella NCAA basketball teams:
2013 Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles
FGC became the first 15-seed team to head to the Sweet 16.
Up against 2-seed Georgetown Hoyas, the Eagles pulled off an upsetting 78-68 win over Big East Player Otto Porter, Jr. They headed to the Sweet 16 after overcoming San Diego State.
While their run ended when they lost to the 3-seed Florida Gators (62-50), never say never.
2016 Syracuse Orange
Syracuse went from losing five out of six games to head to the Final Four.
10-seed Syracuse shot to the Final Four after Jim Boeheim’s ban the previous year. Call it teamwork as Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson helped spearhead wins over Gonzaga, Dayton, and MIddle Tennessee.
Despite losing to North Carolina in the semifinals, anything is possible, especially considering how they overturned No. 1 seed Virginia (35-21). How about them oranges?
2008 Davidson Wildcats
Even after a 4-6 record, the 10-seed Wildcats pulled off a record 22 straight wins.
Davidson finished in the Elite Eight and took the Southern Conference Championship from 7-seed Gonzaga. Talk about coming in like a wrecking ball; Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors) dished out 40-points giving Davidson their first win since 1969. He led in scoring for 31 out of 36 games.
The Wildcats beat the Hoyas and Wisconsin before falling to Kansas in an upsetting 59-57 match.
2006 George Mason University Patriots
GMU went to the Final Four after beating North Carolina, Michigan State, and Wichita State.
George Mason, an 11-seed team, beat out the top-seed UConn Huskies (86-84OT) with Rudy Gay ( 6’8 forward, Utah Jazz). The Pats, under coach Jim Larranaga, eventually fell to the Gators. But what an upset!
2011 Virginia Commonwealth University Rams
The 11-seed pick finished in the Final Four after being the only NCAA team to win five tournament games and not make the championships.
Cinderella’s “fairy god coaches” might include Shaka Smart, Mike Jones, Mike Rhoades, and Bill Wade, who helped Virginia defeat USC. They then beat out Kansas, Purdue, Georgetown, and Florida State. However, the Rams hit a wall against fellow Cinderella team, Butler.
The clock must have struck midnight.
2010, 2011 Butler Bulldogs
Number 5-seed (2010) and 8-seed (2011) Butler pulled out back-to-back two-year runs for the National Championship game.
Under coach Brad Stevens, the Bulldogs lost to the Huskies and Blue Devils. However, what a ride!
In 2010, they beat top seed teams Michigan State and Syracuse, and the following year beat the Gators, Pitt, and Wisconsin.
Standout players included Shelvin Mack, Matt Howard, and Gordon Hayward. Despite the loss, Butler is a force to be reckoned with.
1988 Kansas Jayhawks
The only 11-seed team to lose 11 games, upset a 6-seed, and win the Tourney.
The 6-seed Jayhawks under coach Larry Brown and dominant Danny Manning had a 12-8 record. But like a tornado from Oz, they blew out Duke, Xavier, Vanderbilt, Murray State, and Kansas State. They then faced off against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 8.
As underdogs, Kansas bounced ahead thanks to Manning’s explosive 31-points and 18 rebounds to clinch the title.
1986 LSU Tigers
The first 11-seed team to finish in the Final Four, LSU beat one, two, and three seed teams in the same tournament.
Beignet, won that. Under coach Dale Brown, LSU upset Memphis State (83-81). That followed a double-overtime win over Purdue, proving they were ready for the Sweet 16.
After defeating 2-seed Georgia Tech, they beat 1-seed Kentucky (with wins less than four points/game). LSU tried for a repeat in ‘87, but the 10-seed team fell short in the Elite Eight to Indiana.
1990 Loyola Marymount Lions
Among the best runs is the 11-seed Lions, who finished Elite Eight.
With 122.4 points a game, 9nder coach Paul Westhead, Loyola had the best and brightest in Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers. However, tragedy struck when Gathers collapsed on the court and later died.
Rallying back, the Lions would then beat Alabama (62-60, their lowest-scoring game that season), New Mexico State (111-92), and Michigan (149-115). They reached the Elite Eight but fell to UNLV.
Players wore ‘44’ patches to honor Hank Gathers, and Kimble shot free throws left-handed.
1985 Villanova Wildcats
Dubbed the perfect game, the Wildcats crushed the Hoyas.
8-seed Villanova stumbled into the Tournament. Under their beloved coach, the late Rollie Massimino, they had a modest 19-10 record and did not win their first three tournament games by over five points. However, the Cats clawed their way to the top by beating Maryland, Michigan, Dayton, Memphis State, and North Carolina.
With Ed Pinckney and Dwayne McClain, Villanova geared up against John Thompson’s team, which had Patrick Ewing, (and beat them twice earlier in the season). However, Villanova was shooting 79% from the field.
They defeated the stunned Hoyas 66-64. Cats do have nine lives.
1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack
Jim Valvano’s team became national champs despite ten losses.
NC State won the ACC Tourney and had five wins (three by two points or less). The Wolfpack beat Virginia and Ralph Sampson.
The tournament had them against Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler (future Hall of Famers).
During the final seconds, Dereck Whittenburg said a prayer and threw a shot that came up short. But Lorenzo Charles mid-air dunked the winning basket.
Valvano ran circles around the court as the place erupted in cheers.
NC State. Villanova. LSU. Kansas. They prove that Cinderella stories and buzzer-beaters can happen. Gonzaga, Kentucky, Arizona, and Purdue are 2022 NCAA favorites. However, with so many unpredictable NCAA Tournament runs, any team can exceed expectations. With exciting matches ahead, bring on the games!