Busting Brackets

10 March Madness Cinderella teams that stole our hearts

March Madness is all about the upsets and these ten Cinderellas stole America's heart as they made their runs.

Loyola v Kansas State
Loyola v Kansas State / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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1983 NC State Wolfpack

  • Seed: No. 6
  • Tournament Run: National Champions
  • Final Ranking: No. 1

Without question, the most famous Cinderella run ever was the 1983 NC State Wolfpack. Of course, led by charismatic head coach Jim Valvano, that team took down some of the game's heaviest hitters including the Phi Slamma Jamma Houston Cougars in the National Championship Game.

NC State entered the tournament with just a 17-10 record after seeing its best guard, Dereck Whittenberg miss much of the season with a broken foot. In fact, the Wolfpack had to win the ACC Tournament just to secure a spot in the field.

Ranked a No. 6 seed in the West Region, NC State was faced with the task of having to go through a portion of the bracket that featured three top-10 teams in the nation. In the opening round, the Wolfpack struggled with No. 11 seed Pepperdine winning in double-overtime almost ending the run before it began.

The second round saw NC State outlast a UNLV team that had lost only twice all season and which was the No. 3 seed in the region. Then, in the Sweet 16, NC State took down another Cinderella, No. 10 seed Utah, which had toppled mightly UCLA.

That set up an Elite Eight meeting with rival Virginia, one of the top teams in the nation, and their superstar big man Ralph Sampson. State would hold on for a 63-62 win as Sampson missed a game-winning shot at the buzzer. It was the third time that year that the Wolfpack had beaten the Cavaliers.

In the Final Four, NC State beat Georgia to set up the showdown with mighty Houston and their big man Akeem Olajuwon and star guard Clyde Drexler. Of course, State would win on a last-second put-back by Lorenzo Charles at the buzzer to send the crowd at The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico into a frenzy. It is the most famous upset in NCAA Tournament history and one of the reasons why Valvano and his 1983 team are still beloved by millions of college basketball fans.