Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Top 25 NCAA Tournament cinderellas since 2000

George Mason Patriots. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
George Mason Patriots. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) /
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UMBC Retrievers
UMBC Retrievers. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The NCAA Tournament is the best tournament in the nation and upsets make it even better. Who are the biggest cinderella teams in NCAA Basketball since 2000?

The NCAA Tournament, the Big Dance. The best season-ending tournament in the country takes place in March and is almost like a three-week holiday for all basketball fans.

It has people taking time off of work or trying to get glimpses of the afternoon games, while they “work”. They root for their favorite teams first, but what everybody loves to see more than anything is the upsets. The No. 15 over a No. 2, the No. 12 over a No. 5, or finally last year a No. 16 over a No. 1 (thanks, UMBC Retreivers). They are a great story and everybody loves the underdog, unless they are playing your team.

The underdogs turn in to cinderella stories and the nation loves them even more. Sometimes, the stories come from unlikely places. They sneak up on us, but captivate us.

It is not always a double-digit seed. Sometimes, it can be a blue blood team having a down year that makes a run. Whatever way it happens, it makes for great games and a nation rooting them on.

Mid-majors are normally the teams that engross us the most, but the nation just likes a good story. If the team comes from a power conference, then that is okay as well. We want to see a team with fewer stars, or a feel-good story. No matter what they have, we root for them to keep winning and make the impossible happen.

These teams can win one game, or make it to the Final Four. Every story is different, but we love them all. Some teams take their cinderella stories and develop into a perennial power (see the Gonzaga Bulldogs). Others use it to make a leap in conferences (see the Butler Bulldogs and the VCU Rams). Others just enjoy the ride while it lasts and will tell these stories to their grandkids.

They are not all created equal, but it is what makes the NCAA Tournament so special and must-watch television every year. We have had some great cinderella stories since 2000, but which one is the best?

We take a look at the top 25 and explain why they land where they land. Who will take the top spot and who just missed out? We will start with No. 25 and end with, well, take a look and find out.