Cinderella stories: How every No. 10 through 16 seed fared in the Sweet 16
Everybody loves Cinderella. Especially in March.
Unfortunately, the clock always strikes midnight. Eventually, anyway.
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been 83 teams seeded 10 through 16 that have reached the Sweet 16. That includes the 4 that crashed this year’s Big Dance: No. 10 seed Miami, No. 11 Iowa State, No. 11 Michigan, and everybody’s darling, No. 15 Saint Peter’s.
Their results obviously are to be determined, but we know at least 1 double-digit seed will advance to the Elite 8 again this year because Iowa State plays Miami.
The previous 79 teams went 19-60 in the Sweet 16.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and learn a little bit about how every double-digit seed fared in the Sweet 16.
1985: 0-3 in Sweet 16
This is hysterical, but Kentucky was the first No. 12 seed to reach the Sweet 16. The Wildcats obviously would never be cast as Cinderella, but that year, they stumbled to a 16-12 regular season. Their fairytale (play along) ended with a Sweet 16 loss to No. 1 seed St. John’s.
No. 11 seeds Auburn and Boston College also lost their Sweet 16 game.
No. 11 seed LSU became the first double-digit seed to reach the Final Four. They topped No. 1 seed Kentucky in the Elite 8 to reach the Final Four.
No. 12 seed DePaul lost to Duke, which made the Final Four for the first time under Mike Krzyzewski.
No. 14 seed Cleveland State, led by Might Mouse McFadden, took out Bob Knight in the opening round en route to a Sweet 16 appearance, where David Robinson ended the dream. In the process, they became the first No. 14 seed to reach the Sweet 16.
No. 10 seed LSU again won a Sweet 16 game before falling in the Elite 8. UNLV ran No. 12 seed Wyoming out of the gym.
No. 11 Rhode Island and No. 13 Richmond both lost, but the Spiders launched their giant-killer reputation by stunning Bob Knight and defending champion Indiana in the opening round en route to the Sweet 16.
No. 11 Minnesota fell to Duke in the Sweet 16.
This was the first time 2 high seeds reached the Elite 8 — and that wasn’t even the biggest story.
No. 12 seed Ball State nearly scripted one of the most unlikely upsets in tournament history in the Sweet 16. The Cardinals took UNLV to the wire, falling 69-67. This is the same UNLV team that destroyed Duke 103-73 in the championship game.
No. 11 Loyola Marymount ran its way to the record books — and a spot in the Elite 8 after taking out Alabama in the Sweet 16. Two days after avoiding disaster against Ball State, UNLV outscored Loyola 131-101.
No. 10 seed Texas also reached the Elite 8, where it fell to Arkansas.
Two blue bloods dashed Cinderella’s hopes. Duke beat No. 11 seed UConn in the Sweet 16. North Carolina toppled No. 12 Eastern Michigan.
No. 10 Temple outlasted Oklahoma State in overtime in the Sweet 16, but then fell to UNC in the Elite 8.
New Mexico State was the lone low seed to survive the opening weekend. They fell to UCLA in the Sweet 16.
For the 2nd consecutive year, underdogs were dominated in the opening weekend. No. 12 George Washington was the exception, making the Sweet 16 before losing to Michigan 72-64.
Michigan outlasted No. 10 Maryland, and Arkansas blasted No. 12 Tulsa in the Sweet 16.
Cinderella’s drought continued. Without a win since 1991 and shut out of the Sweet 16 in 1995, only No. 12 Arkansas got there in 1996. The Hogs lost to John Calipari’s UMass squad that reached the Final Four.
No. 10 Providence ended the Sweet 16 drought by beating No. 14 in a rare double underdog Sweet 16 matchup. Providence lost in the Elite 8. No. 10 Texas also reached the Sweet 16 but lost to Louisville.
Rip Hamilton hates Cinderella, apparently. The UConn star sent No. 11 Washington packing with a buzzer-beater putback in the Sweet 16.
Utah took out No. 10 West Virginia en route to making the championship game. No. 13 Valpo lost to Rhode Island.
A record 5 low seeds made the Sweet 16, but No. 10 Gonzaga was the only one to win and make it to the Elite 8. The Zags then lost their coach, Dan Monson, who bolted to Minnesota, and promoted an assistant by the name of Mark Few.
No. 10 Gonzaga made it back to the Sweet 16 in Year 1 under Few, but they and fellow No. 10 seed Seton Hall lost.
No. 12 seed Gonzaga made its 3rd consecutive Sweet 16 but lost. So did No. 10 Georgetown. No. 11 seed Temple delivered the lone win but then lost in the Elite 8.
No. 10 Kent State made it all the way to the Elite 8 in Stan Heath’s only year there. Heath cashed in, immediately jumping to Arkansas.
No. 12 Missouri also made it to the Elite 8 — the high water mark under Quinn Snyder.
UConn took out No. 11 Southern Illinois, spoiling the opportunity for 3 Cinderellas to make the Elite 8.
No. 12 Butler made the Sweet 16 for the first time, but lost to No. 1 seed Oklahoma.
Syracuse won the national title that year behind freshman Carmelo Anthony. Part of the Orange’s run was surviving No. 10 Auburn in the Sweet 16.
Georgia Tech topped No. 10 Nevada en route to the national title game.
Illinois toppled No. 12 Milwaukee en route to its only appearance in the national title game.
No. 10 NC State fell to Wisconsin in the Sweet 16, spoiling an Elite 8 matchup with rival North Carolina.
Hello George Mason!
The 11th-seeded Patriots became the 2nd double-digit seed to reach the Final Four, taking out college basketball royalty Michigan State and North Carolina to reach the Sweet 16, then UConn to reach the Final Four, where they lost to eventual champion Florida.
No. 13 Bradley also made the Sweet 16 but lost.
Steph Curry wasn’t good enough for Duke or UNC, but he led No. 10 seed Davidson to the Elite 8. Curry got to the Sweet 16 by winning 2 games in Raleigh — on NC State’s home floor … and just 20 miles from Duke and UNC.
No. 12 seeds Villanova and Western Kentucky also reached the Sweet 16 but lost.
No. 12 seed Arizona, hardly a typical Cinderella, didn’t spend long in the role, falling in the Sweet 16 to Louisville.
Midnight came early for No. 10 St. Mary’s, No. 11 Washington and No. 12 Cornell, too. All 3 lost by double digits in the Sweet 16.
VCU joined George Mason as an underdog Final Four team.
The 11 seed Rams took out Georgetown and Kansas (Elite 8) as part of the run, too. They beat No. 10 seed FSU in the Sweet 16. Kansas beat No. 10 seed Richmond in the Sweet 16 to set up its fateful encounter with VCU.
VCU’s run ended against the original underdog, Butler, in the Final Four.
And, no, it didn’t make up for the 1977 national championship loss, but UNC ended No. 11 Marquette’s Cinderella run in the Sweet 16.
No. 10 Xavier, No. 11 NC State and No. 13 Ohio all lost, but each threw a might scare into their opponent. North Carolina needed OT to get past Ohio. Kansas edged NC State by 3 — and then whipped North Carolina to reach the Final Four.
Sure, No. 12 Oregon, No. 13 La Salle and No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast all lost, too, but FGCU in particular electrified basketball fans by unleashing Dunk City on No. 2 Georgetown in the opening round. FGCU became the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16.
No. 11 Dayton reached the Elite 8 by beating No. 10 seed Stanford in the Sweet 16.
Tennessee took advantage of some bracket luck to reach the Sweet 16. Playing in Raleigh, NC, No. 14 Mercer upset Duke in the opening round. Tennessee then beat Mercer to reach the Sweet 16, where it lost to Michigan.
Does this even count? By seeding only. UCLA, who has more NCAA crowns than anybody, donned the dress as a No. 11 seed but fell to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16.
No. 10 seed Syracuse beat No. 11 seed Gonzaga in a Sweet 16 matchup.
No. 11 seed Xavier took out Arizona in the Sweet 16, then fell to Gonzaga in the Elite 8.
No. 11 seed Loyola Chicago, guided by their famous fan, took us all on a joyride, all the way to the Final Four.
No. 11 seed Syracuse also got to the Sweet 16, where it fell to rival Duke.
Eventual champion Virginia took out No. 12 seed Oregon in the Sweet 16.
Here we go again with the Bruins. This time, the No. 11 seeds started in the First Four and ended up in the Final Four. They twice needed OT, and won their Elite 8 game by 2.
No. 12 Oregon State joined the Bruins in the Elite 8, where they fell to Houston.
No. 11 Syracuse lost in the Sweet 16. And Oral Roberts became just the 2nd No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16, falling to Arkansas.
Footnote: The NCAA Tournament started seeding teams in 1979, but most of the 40-team field started in the 2nd round. Still, for clarification, from 1979-84, 4 double-digit seeds won 2 games to reach the Sweet 16: No. 10 St. John’s in 1979, No. 10 Lamar in 1980, No. 10 Utah in 1983 and No. 10 Dayton in 1984.