Busting Brackets

Like it or not, NC State is a Cinderella story in this year's March Madness

NC State is an 11-seed in the Final Four, whether they like it or not, they are a Cinderella team.
Mar 31, 2024; Dallas, TX, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) celebrates making it to the Final Four of March Madness.
Mar 31, 2024; Dallas, TX, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) celebrates making it to the Final Four of March Madness. / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

What makes a Cinderella team in March Madness? Is it what seed they are? Is it the fact that they are a smaller program? Is it how far they make it? Is it the number of upsets they have?

There are a lot of different things that can make a team a Cinderella story. There have been several big upsets in this year's NCAA Tournament, Yale beating Auburn, Oakland beating Kentucky, Grand Canyon beating Saint Mary's, Oregon beating South Carolina, NC State beating Texas Tech. Most of these teams didn't make it past the second round, and only one made it past the Sweet 16.

NC State

The darlings of March this year are the NC State Wolfpack. They first started to get attention as the 10-seed in the ACC Tournament when they upset the 2-seed Duke in what would be their third win in a row. Their next task was 3-seed Virginia, who the Wolfpack also put away. They were one win away from getting the automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament.

Before the ACC Tournament, NC State was not on any bracketology lists and was in no way going to make the tournament. So with four wins in a row under their belt, the Wolfpack faced their biggest ask yet, 1-seed North Carolina. NC State completed what seemed like the impossible and beat the Tar Heels to win the ACC Tournament and punch their tickets to the NCAA Tournament.

Five days, five games, five wins, the Wolfpack were the talk of every basketball talk show. Fast forward to the present, NC State is in the Final Four as an 11-seed, just the fifth time a seed that low has made it that far in March Madness.

So is NC State a Cinderella team? NCAA Staff Writer Josh Yourish says they are not a Cinderella team and here is why he is wrong. The Wolfpack in no way would have made it to the NCAA Tournament if they had lost at any point in the ACC Tournament. Even if they had lost by one point to UNC in the ACC Championship, they would not have been selected for the tournament.

Depending on what seed a team is and how far they advance in March Madness is what makes them a Cinderella team. Seeds 13 through 16 need to make it to the Sweet 16 to be considered a Cinderella team. Seeds 12 through 9 need to make it past eh Sweet 16 to be a Cinderella team.

Some may say NC State could never be considered a Cinderella team no matter what seed they based on success in the past, the distant past. The Wolfpack do have two National Championships under their belt from 1974 and 1983, but they haven't made it past eh Sweet 16 since the 80s.

Yes, NC Stats is from the basketball Holy Land, but they have always been the little brother to North Carolina and Duke. Should they not get the chance to be celebrated as a Cinderella team based on their history?

Winning five games in a row to get in the tournament and then four games in a row in the tournament should qualify this team as a Cinderella story. They are also an 11-seed, a low seed that since 1885 has only made the Final Four five times. This Wolfpack team is a Cinderella story, whether they like it or not, no one expected them to be here a month ago.