Since 1980, when Bill Murray’s ‘Carl Spackler’ helped popularize the concept of the Cinderella sports story, the NCAA tournament has become the ideal stage for unheralded teams to shine. Three years after Caddyshack was released, the tourney featured its first Cinderella team of the ESPN-era, coach Jimmy Valvano’s North Carolina State Wolfpack, who claimed the title as a sixth-seed. Since then, every analyst, couch expert and fan eagerly awaits Selection Sunday to study the field of teams, fill out their bracket and ultimately identify their prospective Cinderellas.
However, the story of Cinderella features a terrific range of colorful characters that are ignored during the madness of every March. So, we’ve dug deeper into both the fairy tale and the bracket to match the main players of the Cinderella story with teams for the 2012 tournament.
Cinderella played by the Colorado Buffaloes & Vanderbilt Commodores (Long Beach State Gauchos and Belmont Bruins as understudies).
Colorado (11th-seed) booked their ticket by claiming the Pac-12 title as the tournament sixth-seed, defeating Oregon (3), California (2) and Arizona (4). This was their first year in the Pac-12 since arriving from the Big-12. The Buffaloes best finish in the tourney is Final Fours in 1942 and 1955, they haven’t made the round of 32 since 1997 and this is their first trip since 2003. If they can topple UNLV in their first game, the plot could thicken if they meet up with an old foe from the Big-12 and Ugly Stepsister Baylor in the round the 32.
Vanderbilt made noise by taking down Prince Charming Kentucky in the SEC tournament and lifting them to a fifth-seeding. If these two meet again, the Commodores would likely have to get past their Wicked Stepmother Tar Heels in the Final Four. Vanderbilt are led by the super scoring junior John Jenkins, who is supported by the strong senior core of Jeffery Taylor, Festus Ezeli and Brad Tinsley.
Prince Charming played by the Kentucky Wildcats.
Despite cruising to the dance with a hiccup against Cinderella Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament final, John Calipari’s team walks the red carpet beautifully attired with the overall number one ranking. The iconic Wildcats haven’t won a national championship since 1998 and they’re now looking to score at this year’s function after putting together a 32-1 (16-0 conference) campaign.
They’re led by All-Everything sensation Anthony Davis, who now also literally does everything on the court, having knocked down a three-pointer in three of his last five games. Davis makes up a trio of impressive freshman with Michael Gilchrist-Kidd and Marquis Teague, while sophomore stars Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb round out their stellar starting five.
Lady Tremaine (The Wicked Stepmother) played by the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels.
North Carolina and Duke comprise the most combustable rivalry in college basketball and one of the greatest rivalries in sports. These programs have the role covered perfectly. They’ve combined for four titles and six Final Four appearances in the last 11 years. Overall, they’ve won nine championships. They’re always strong, they always contend, they’re the Yankees and Red Sox of college basketball and most fans outside of Tobacco Road, NC would rather see any team other than one of these two win.
Anastasia Tremaine (younger Ugly Stepsister) played by the Baylor Bears.
Baylor have a point to prove, after a strong season they were defeated by big sister Mizzou in the Big-12 tournament final. This is just their seventh trip to the dance and they’ve never gotten lucky. They were runners up in 1948, reached the Final Four in 1950 and had their run in 2010 end at the Elite Eight. Seniors; Quincey Acy, Fred Ellis and Anthony Jones were on that team and are now all looking to go out with a bang as a third-seed. If Baylor get past their Wicked Stepmother Duke in the Sweet 16, they can set up a tantalizing Elite Eight showdown with Prince Charming Kentucky.
Drizella Tremaine (older Ugly Stepsister) played by the Missouri Tigers.
Mizzou enter the event as a second-seed after rolling to a 30-4 season, 14-4 in the Big-12 and winning the conference tournament by beating down their younger sister Baylor 90-75. They reached the Elite Eight in 2002 and 2009 and have never reached the Final Four. If they can outlast Michigan State in the West Region, they have a chance to meet Prince Charming Kentucky in the Final Four. The Tigers have a chip on their shoulder and are also tired of being the Kansas Jayhawks’ Ugly Stepsister. Kansas would have to prevail over Wicked Stepmother North Carolina in the Midwest to face Mizzou in the championship game.
The Pumpkin Carriage played by the Marquette Golden Eagles and Louisville Cardinals.
Marquette (third-seed) and Louisville (fourth-seed) both look dashing on their way to the dance. However, by drawing sticky opening round match-ups, these regal horse-drawn carriages could end up looking like pumpkins if they exit the dance early.
Fairy Godmother played by Dick Vitale.
12 Marzo 2012