The 2010 NCAA Sweet 16 bracket is set.Â Of those 16 advancing teams, four of them were lower seeded teams.Â In other words, they weren’t supposed to win their first game of theÂ NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.Â But they did.Â And then they won their second round game as well.Â This is what is called aÂ cinderella story.Â Â And thus far, St. Mary’s, Northern Iowa, Washington, and CornellÂ all seem to qualify — the unlikeliestÂ teams beating out those that seemed more suitable for contention.Â
But some say (including Kansas’ head coach Bill Self) that # 9 seed Northern Iowa really isn’t a cinderella story any longer. Â They’ve been to the NCAA Basketball Tournament five times in the last seven years.Â They have the winningest team in the state of Iowa of any program in the last decade.Â But #1 seeded Kansas’ loss to Northern Iowa made it a cinderella story despite Self’s protestations.Â Besides, outside of Iowa, who had heard of Northern Iowa during the past season (or the past seven, for that matter)?Â And who really picked them to upset Kansas in the MidwestÂ bracket?
And then there’s #11 seed Washington.Â Washington has been to the NCAA Tournament three times since 2005.Â They’re from a high profile conference, the PAC 10.Â Does that mean they’re not a cinderella?Â
Cornell, seeded at #12 in the East bracket, lost only four games this season.Â They’ve beenÂ the Ivy League’s regular season champs for three years in a row.Â Since the Ivy League doesn’t have a conference tournament, the regular season winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.Â So… three straight tournament invites — does this mean they’re not a cinderella?Â
And what about little St. Mary’s?Â Sharing a conference with Gonzaga cannot be easy, but this is their third invitation to the NCAA Tournament (and they defeated Gonzaga to win their conference this season) since 2005, albeit 2010 saw their first tournament win since 1959.Â So are they true cinderellas?Â
Of course they are.Â They weren’t supposed to make the second round, not to mention the third (the Sweet 16).Â Upsets are one thing.Â Cinderella stories are a continuation of the upset story.Â Â And for a cinderella story to be truly amazing, the teams have to continue winning.Â Thus far, these four unlikely dancers at the “Big Dance” are looking good to possibly continue onward, avoiding the clock striking midnight and ending their cinderella run.Â And who knows?Â Perhaps at the end of the 2010Â “Big Dance,” one of them will get that slipper, the NCAA National ChampionshipÂ Trophy.