Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cinderella is a fairy tale

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

The NCAA Tournament is one of those sacred cows that’s bullet proof. I’ve found that knocking the “Big Dance” is like kicking someone’s dog, at least to the simple-minded who buy the annual hype of thing.

And as a lifelong basketball fan, I found it amusing when I was recently attacked for telling the truth about college basketball.

You know, the common sense stuff. Things like the regular season has been rendered meaningless by greed and the mindless conference tournaments. Or the fact that maybe every kid and every coach in the country may not be all that Dick Vitale cracks them up to me.

Of course, it’s not that I don’t like the tourney -- I love it when it actually gets underway.

You see, I am enamored with good basketball so the real NCAA Tournament doesn’t begin for me until today. All the dregs have been thrown out on their collective ears and most of the remaining teams actually have something to offer.

It’s at this point where I can already feel the blood begin to boil and your next question -- What about Cinderella?

Well you have been hoodwinked people -- Cinderella is a fairy tale. A story of folkloric characters where the context is perceived by certain rubes as having historical significance. However, the superficial references to actual places and persons isn't steeped in reality.

Since the NCAA Tournament has gone to 64 teams -- the 16 seed is now a sterling 0-92. This year’s four doormats lost by an average of 29 points, although some may take solace in the fact that Eastern Kentucky and Central Connecticut State both came within three touchdowns.

Yep, that’s great basketball -- I’ve seen executions that had more suspense than that. And, in case you are wondering, two seeds now hold a record of 88-4 in the tourney.

Take a look at the lowest seeds to advance "deep" into the tourney and you see the stark reality of “Cinderella” -- Two 14 seeds (Cleveland State in 1986 and Chattanooga in 1997) have made the Sweet 16. One 12 seed (Missouri in 2002) made the Elite Eight and two 11 seeds (LSU in 1986 and George Mason in 2006) made the Final Four.

Of that group, only Cleveland State, Chattanooga and George Mason would qualify as a so-called mid-major Cinderella.

But, even that misses the point -- last time I looked Cinderella wasn't a runner-up.

-You can reach John McMullen at

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