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NCAA Basketball March Madness

Florida Gulf Coast and the Top 20 NCAA Tournament Cinderella Teams of All Time

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All-Time Top 20 NCAA Tournament Cinderella Teams

intro
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

There is nothing better about the annual NCAA basketball tournament than the upsets. It's the reason that millions of fans who never watch a single college basketball game during the regular season tune in for the entirety of the tournament. Every year, fans look for Cinderella, as if they are literally at a ball populated with the popular teams as well as the unknown, mysterious ones. No matter what happens each year, Cinderella never fails to show up.

Of course, the clock typically strikes midnight for the mistreated stepsister, but not before an incredible run that results in that no-name school being a household name for the rest of time. Did you know VCU before 2011? How far did you have them advancing in your bracket this year?

Florida Gulf Coast has an opportunity to be the Cinderella of all Cinderellas this year after already knocking off No. 2 Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State. With a historic matchup looming with No. 3 Florida that means much more than just a spot in the Elite Eight looming, Florida Gulf Coast is preparing to enter the record books and make a run at not only a spot in the Final Four, but a national championship in coach Andy Enfield's second season at the school. Where will Florida Gulf Coast rank among the all-time great Cinderellas? That remains to be seen, but the top 20 to date are a fun debate and we've got our version right here. Let us know where you think Florida Gulf Coast fits in by commenting below!

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20. Northern Iowa (2010)

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Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Northern Iowa is more recently known because of its upset of No. 1 Kansas in the round of 32 after topping No. 8 UNLV in the round of 64. Although they didn't make it any farther than the Sweet 16, the Panthers made school history with their historic upset.

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19. Cleveland State (1986)

cs
thesummitleague.org

Cleveland State became the first No. 14 seed to reach the Sweet 16 by topping Nos. 3 and 6 seeds before losing to Navy by one point in the then-third round.

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18. North Carolina State (1983)

ncsu
ncsu.edu

Although it's not a no-name school, North Carolina State was not considered a national championship contender in 1983. However, Jimmy V's squad overcame a close one against No. 11 Pepperdine and then squeaked by No. 3 Utah and No. 1 Virginia before topping No. 1 Houston on a buzzer-beater to win it all.

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17. Virginia (1984)

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roanoke.com

A No. 7 seed, Virginia almost upset Houston to play Georgetown in the infamous 1984 title game, but the Cavaliers came up just short against Phi Slamma Jamma in the Final Four after topping Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds.

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16. Villanova (1985)

nova
cooperspick.com

This is another one of those debated Cinderella teams, but Villanova's run to a national championship as a No. 8 seed included a ton of games that went down to the wire against high-profile teams and Cinderellas alike, including a win over Georgetown in the title game. This Wildcats squad is the lowest seed ever to win a title.

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15. Gonzaga (1999)

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This was the team that made Gonzaga a household name, at least as a mid-major school. As a No. 10 seed, the Bulldogs thumped Nos. 7, 2 and 6 seed before coming up just short in the Elite Eight to Connecticut, who went on to win it all.

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14. Xavier (2004)

xavier
si.com

Xavier went from a bubble team to Atlantic 10 champs and a No. 7 seed while cursing through their region before coming up just short against No. 1 Duke in the Elite Eight.

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13. St. Joseph's (1981)

joe
fanbase.com

Whether or not this St. Joseph's team really should have been a No. 9 is highly debated to this day, but the Hawks made a great run nonetheless, knocking out Nos. 8, 1 and 5 seeds in nail biters before getting blasted by Bob Knight's Indiana team in the Elite Eight.

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12. Temple (2001)

temple
collegehoopsjournal.com

Temple didn't have a great season in 2000, but the Owls made a heck of a run through the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament and then in the NCAA Tournament. Temple ousted Nos. 6, 3 and 7 seeds before falling to No. 1 Michigan State in the Elite Eight.

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11. Davidson (2008)

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zimbio.com

As a No. 10 seed, Davidson was fighting history until Stephen Curry started scoring from every spot on the court. The Wildcats topped Nos. 7, 2 and 3 seeds before coming up one shot short against No. 1 Kansas in the Elite Eight.

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10. Butler (2001)

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Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Butler wasn't a surprise in 2011 after their run to the title game a year earlier, even as a No. 8 seed. However, the Bulldogs made it back to the championship for a second straight year after Gordon Hayward's departure for the NBA, which makes their second run almost as remarkable as their first.

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9. Dayton (1984)

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ebay

Dayton enjoyed an excellent run that included a 41-point performance by Roosevelt Chapman against No. 2 Oklahoma before being sent home by Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the Elite Eight.

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8. Kent State (2002)

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cleveland.com

The coolest part about Kent State's story is that 2002 squad featured Antonio Gates, who now plays tight end for the San Diego Chargers. The Golden Flashers got past Nos. 7, 2 and 3 seeds before falling to No. 5 Indiana in the Elite Eight.

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7. Loyola Marymount (1990)

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newshopper.sulekha.com

Although Loyola Marymount was ousted in the Elite Eight, the Lions' story was incredible because their run came following the tragic death of star Hank Gathers. Loyola topped Nos. 6, 3 and 7 seeds before finally going home after a loss to No. 1. UNLV in the Elite Eight.

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6. Providence (1987)

prov
thebestsportsblog.com

This Cinderella team featured future college basketball stars in head coach Rick Pitino (now with Louisville, this year's No. 1 overall seed) and guard Billy Donovan (now head coach at Florida, a No. 3 seed in this year's tournament). The Friars took down a No. 1 and 2 seed before losing to another No. 2 in the Final Four.

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5. LSU (1986)

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tigayala.com

Although LSU isn't a no-name, the Tigers were a Cinderella in 1986 as a No. 11 seed that made it all the way to the Final Four. LSU took down Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 6 seeds during their incredible run.

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4. Pennsylvania (1979)

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ladyinthemancave.blogspot.com

As a No. 9 seed, Pennsylvania went on an amazing run that included topping Nos. 1 and 4 seeds plus another Cinderella in No. 10 St. John's before hearing the clock strike midnight hard by Magic Johnson and Michigan State in the Final Four.

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3. George Mason (2006)

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georgemasonbasketball.blogspot.com

Although George Mason didn't even win its conference, the Patriots made it to the big dance and then twirled right out of their glass slippers. George Mason topped Nos. 1, 3 and 6 seeds (among others) en route to a Final Four appearance.

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2. VCU (2011)

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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

No one had ever heard of VCU until the 2011 season when the Rams became the first play-in team to not only advance past the round of 64, but all way to the Final Four. The worst part about VCU's run was that the Rams had to play fellow Cinderella school Butler in their Final Four matchup instead of the possibility of two Cinderella teams meeting in the title game.

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1. Butler (2010)

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As a No. 5 seed, Butler beat teams with Nos. 1, 2 and 5 seeds en route to a national championship appearance with Duke. If Gordon Hayward's heave at the buzzer had been three inches shorter, the Bulldogs would have brought home the title as the ultimate Cinderella story.