It’s a classic Cinderella story in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this year: a plucky team that nobody believed in advancing to the Elite Eight through grit and determination.
That’s right, the Kansas State Wildcats from “The Little Apple” of Manhattan, Kansas, finally upset Big Blue Nation’s Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet Sixteen, finishing the game with a five-guard lineup. K-State has never won a national championship in basketball, but today they can advance to the Final Four with a victory over the Loyola (Chicago) Ramblers. It would be sweet redemption for “aw, shucks”-style coach Bruce Weber, who Illinois fired in part because he didn’t adequately recruit Chicago.
Hello? Yeah. No, that can’t be right. What do you mean K-State isn’t the Cinderella team? That doesn’t make any sense.
[Hangs up phone]
Apparently Loyola is supposed to be the Cinderella team today. Yeah, that Loyola. The team with a national championship — in this sport, in living memory. Yeah, with a 12-4 record in the NCAA Tournament. Yeah, I guess the private university with a 50 percent higher endowment in the country’s third-largest city is somehow the underdog. What, because they have Sister Mary Stigmata as team chaplain?
I’m not buying it. You can’t be Cinderella when you already have a national championship. Nobody is calling K-State debate, bass fishing, or crop judging Cinderella stories.
Nobody believed in K-State against Creighton, and nobody wanted them to win against UMBC. Then, again, nobody believed in K-State against Kentucky (and plenty of people still resented the Wildcats for eliminating UMBC, in a way that people wouldn’t have held it against Virginia). Analysts called K-State the worst team in the Sweet Sixteen and talked about how easy of a draw Kentucky ended up with.
Nobody believes in you, K-State! It’s you against the world, Wildcats!