In the War Room with Warfel: No Cinderella team this year


Elizabeth Flores/Minneapolis Star Tribune/

Pedestrians made their way by giant-sized posters of Final Four players near 7th Street and Marquette Avenue on the windows of the IDS Center, Monday, April 1, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minn.

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

For months college basketball fans have wondered who would be the Final Four standing come the end of March and we are here – Texas Tech will play Michigan State and Auburn will be play Virginia in Minneapolis Saturday with a chance to play in the championship game on April 8.

Looking back on the bracket as a whole, I have to say this year’s tournament just has not had the same intrigue as it has had in past years.

The Loyola Ramblers, an 11 seed, made their run to the 2018 NCAA Final Four and UMBC upset over Virginia, the first 16 seed ever to defeat a one seed in the tournament.


Even going back two years ago, you had South Carolina, a seven seed, making the Final Four and giving Gonzaga a run for their money – only losing by two.

This year the best comparison to a “Cinderella” team, if you feel the need to name one, would be Auburn as the five seed.

To deem Auburn a Cinderella team is somewhat obnoxious, really, when you look and realize they won the SEC tournament, having to beat a good Tennessee team in the championship game.

In the second round of this year’s tournament, all of the betting favorites won their game – this is not tournament madness.

While I’m sure most fans tuned in to the Duke games to watch Zion Williamson, who is the Cinderella of this tournament? Certainly not Auburn.

Can we name Oregon the Cinderella as a 12 seed making it to the Sweet 16 and losing to Virginia by four?

Oregon won the Pac-12 tournament much like Auburn won theirs. While I’m not discounting the fact winning that tournament as a six seed is impressive, what I’m saying is they don’t feel like a true Cinderella.


When I think of Cinderella teams in the tournament, I think of the Davidson’s led by Stephen Curry in 2008, VCU who made the Elite Eight in 2011 as an 11 seed and Florida Gulf Coast making the Sweet 16 as a 15 seed in 2013.

These teams were teams no one was talking about coming into the tournament, no offense to Oregon or Auburn who make the strongest cases to be considered Cinderella’s this year.

Oregon played UC Irvine to make it on to the Sweet 16, while Florida Gulf Coast played the likes of Georgetown and San Diego State to make the Sweet 16.

While I will still be tuning in this weekend to see who ultimately raises the National championship trophy on April 8, this tournament has lacked the ‘Cinderella’ feeling of past tournaments.

I wish all four schools and conferences represented the best of luck in Minneapolis this weekend and to whoever raises the trophy – congratulations.

Sports editor Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @Warfel_Adam.

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