- 2010: #9 Northern Iowa vs #1 Kansas (69-67 2nd Rnd)
Northern Iowa captured their second tournament win in school history after surviving a 1st round game against UNLV on a 3 point shot in the final seconds. They were making their 5th NCAA tournament appearance in 7 years and had lost each of their first round games by 5. Making it to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time ever would prove to be a challenge as the Panthers had to face powerhouse Kansas. The Jayhawks started the season ranked #1 in the nation and entered the tournament as the top overall seed with a 32-2 record. The teams’ style of play were polar opposites. Northern Iowa preferred a slower tempo pace only allowing 55.1 points per game (2nd best in the nation) while Kansas had an explosive offense scoring 81.6 points per game (5th best in the nation). The Jayhawks scored the first basket of the game but it would be their only lead the entire night. The Panthers’ defense caused 15 turnovers for the Jayhawks who also shot poorly from behind the arch making only 6 of 23 (26.1%). Kansas was able to make it a one point game with 42 seconds left but a “nail in the coffin” shot by 3 point specialist Ali Farokhmanesh ended any hope for a comeback. Northern Iowa pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament but their Cinderella run would end quickly as they lost their next game to Michigan State.
- 2011: #11 VCU vs #10 Florida State (72-71 OT Reg. Semifinal)
Despite having lost 5 of their last 8 games (including their conference championship against Old Dominion), VCU got an at-large bid as one of the last teams in the tournament. Their inclusion was criticized by many but the Rams charged into the Sweet Sixteen round with three impressive wins over USC (59-46), Georgetown (74-56) and Purdue (94-76). Florida State was having a nice tournament run as well after beating #2 Notre Dame (71-57) to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. The game was played evenly throughout with the bigger and stronger Seminoles dominating the boards and inside game. But the Rams shot it well from the outside making 12 of 26 and were able to hold on for the thrilling victory after making a lay-up off an inbounds play in the closing seconds. VCU was headed to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history, and they weren’t done yet. The Rams would stun top-seeded Kansas 71-61 to become just the third #11 seed to make the Final Four. Their incredible run would end at the hands of another Cinderella team, the #8 Butler Bulldogs. None the less, VCU’s 2011 NCAA tournament run is remembered as one of the best Cinderella stories of all time.