Despite what ESPN and the like would have you think, there are no Cinderellas left in this year’s NCAA tournament—the real Cinderellas were offed by programs designed to chew up teams with limited talent and depth.
There are still underdogs to root for, of course, but they’re names any college athletics fan should be familiar with at this point. Michigan, Butler, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Xavier—all fine stories for teams few expected to see on the second weekend a month ago. Considering all of these programs, except South Carolina, have been to at least one Sweet 16 in the past six tournaments, they don’t exactly inspire or entertain fans the same way Middle Tennessee or Saint Mary’s or Rhode Island would have. But this is the NCAA tournament, and you have to root for somebody, so it might as well be these teams.
As much as it pains me to admit it, even considering the other two teams on this list had tougher roads, Michigan might still have the best case for underdog of the tourney. (Before I get into their team dynamics, though, I will simply remind you that the Wolverines played for the national title four years ago and that prior to their airplane mishap, they were just a middling Big Ten team. But I guess you can’t “Well yeah, but...” an near-airplane crash, so the Wolverines take the top spot.)