Rank 'Em: Cinderella Teams

Created: June 25, 2008, 11:53 AM

The spikes fit for college baseball's Cinderella.

The clock doesn't always strike midnight. While Cinderella runs tend to run out before champions are crowned, some teams ride the wave of momentum and good fortune all the way to the top of a sport.

But which team is the ultimate Cinderella success story, SportsNation?

Fresno State's run to the peak of college baseball began with a win in the WAC tournament and carried on through elimination game after elimination game. Six times Fresno State faced a potential season-ending loss, and each time the lowest seed ever to reach the College World Series survived.

But where does Fresno State's run rank against Denmark turning a late invite to Euro 1992 into a stunning championship? What about the New York Giants hitting the road for three wins en route to a Super Bowl title to cap the 2007 season? Rank the all-time Cinderella teams, SportsNation!
  • United States Olympic hockey team, 1980
    Coach Herb Brooks guided an afterthought group of amateur players past the mighty USSR and finished the job in the gold-medal game against Finland.
  • NC State men's basketball, 1982-83
    With a miracle dunk at the buzzer from Lorenzo Charles, No. 6 seed NC State stunned favored Houston to complete a remarkable run. The Wolfpack beat two No. 1 seeds, one No. 3 seed and one No. 4 seed en route.
  • Villanova men's basketball, 1984-85
    Ed Pinckney and No. 8 seed Villanova became the lowest seed to win the NCAA tournament when it upset top-seeded Georgetown in the title game. Villanova also upset No. 1 seed Michigan in the second round and knocked off two No. 2 seeds en route to the title.
  • Denmark soccer, 1992
    Peter Schmeichel and his Danish mates weren't even supposed to be in the 1992 European Championship after falling short in qualification. But when war-torn Yugoslavia was dismissed from the field shortly before the start of play, Denmark didn't waste the gift, eventually beating Holland in the semifinals and Germany in the final.
  • New Jersey Devils, 1994-95
    The Devils finished tied for fifth in the East in the labor-shortened 1994-95 season and didn't have home-ice advantage in any round of the playoffs. A substantial underdog against Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals, New Jersey pulled off a sweep for its first title.
  • Houston Rockets, 1994-95
    The Houston Rockets might have been the defending champions in the 1994-95 NBA season, but their run to the title was still magical. Seeded sixth, the Rockets became the lowest seed to win the NBA title and beat four teams with at least 57 wins to do it.
  • St. Louis Cardinals, 2006
    Only the 1973 Mets won a World Series after a less impressive regular season than the 83-win Cardinals in 2006. St. Louis' Cinderella run began by their own doing, with a stunning September collapse that nearly left them in the history books for other reasons. But after making the postseason, they survived Game 7 on the road in the NLCS and beat the Tigers for the title.
  • Cal Santa Barbara men's soccer 2006
    In the unlikeliest of settings for two SoCal teams, UCSB knocked off UCLA on a frozen field in St. Louis to win the national title. Unseeded to open the NCAA tournament after starting the season 7-6, UCSB survived four one-goal wins in the run of play and a semifinal shootout against Wake Forest just to reach a title game. The win against UCLA was UCSB's first in nearly 25 years.
  • New York Giants 2007-08
    Just 4-4 in their final eight games during the regular season, the Giants entered the playoffs with a question mark at quarterback in Eli Manning and a 10-6 record. Three road wins later, they were in the Super Bowl. And after a stunning upset against unbeaten New England, they were in the history books.
  • Fresno State baseball, 2008
    What more can be said about Erik Wetzel and the Bulldogs? Seeded fourth in a four-team regional after sneaking into the NCAA tournament by winning the WAC tournament, Fresno State survived six elimination games, a pretournament injury to a pitching ace and ranked team after ranked team.