Don't call Gonzaga, Butler and VCU Cinderella

Previous NCAA Tournament underdogs have outgrown sleeper status

Every year around this time, college basketball's elite teams prepare to make their march on history.

There will be your favorites — Indiana, Duke, Michigan — and some of the usual suspects — Michigan State, Louisville, Florida. There will also be a few whose roles are defined not by who they are, but what they do over the next several weeks.

They're your Bracket Busters.

The one team that can make or break your office pool.

A fairy tale for some, a nightmare for others.

Teams such as Gonzaga and Butler are all too familiar with that storyline. Both teams are notorious for pulling off an amazing upset or two that would put the fear of God into marquee teams such as Duke or Kansas before the clock eventually winds down on their amazing run.

Yet, the glass slipper doesn't quite fit these two programs as of late.

Gonzaga went from underdog to top dog this season, with the program reaching new heights including a No. 1 ranking — a program first. What in the world happened to our favorite Cinderella? Where's that spunky team from Spokane that was college basketball's version of the Bad News Bears? Rocking the long hair and poorly-grown mustaches that would make Adam Morrison proud.

The Zags went from fighting the power to being the power. Instead of being the hunter, the Bulldogs have quickly become the hunted.

"I would be very surprised if Gonzaga did anything else than make a big run in this tournament," said Dan Bonner, CBS Sports college basketball analyst. " . . . I would not be surprised if they won the national championship because one thing they are not is Cinderella."

National champions? The Zags?

The same can be said for Butler, which went from "there's another team in Indiana?" to a two-time national title contender. In fact, the Bulldogs were a half-court heave away from upsetting Duke in the 2010 title game. Even this season with wins over North Carolina, Indiana and even Gonzaga, Butler is far from being an unknown.

"I still think they are a Cinderella," said Doug Gottlieb when asked about the Bulldogs' chances. Gottlieb is a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports and co-host of Lead Off on CBS Sports Network.

With their recent run of success in the tournament, it's hard to really consider Butler much of an underdog.

Then there's VCU.

The Rams may be late to the party, but that hasn't stopped Shaka Smart's club from joining all of the fun. VCU is one year removed from losing in the Elite Eight to who else . . . Butler.

While Gottlieb likes VCU, he points out it will be tough for the team to win four games in a row. However, he had to add: "I guess they proved everyone wrong when they won four games a couple of years ago."

Bonner said VCU's smothering defense and rapid-fire offense could be the secret to its success.

"VCU, with the way they play, they could cause people a lot of problems," he said. "Most of them will be determined by matchups and style of play."

Either way, it shouldn't shock anybody if any one of these teams make some noise in the tournament, especially when you consider the lack of a true dominant team in college basketball. If there is one theme for this basketball season, it's parity.

 

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