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2021 March Madness Cinderella Teams: 5 Bracket-Busting Sleepers Who Could Go Deep Into NCAA Tournament

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Here are The Game Day’s 2021 March Madness Cinderella Teams: Top 5 Sleepers To Make Deep Run In NCAA Tournament.

Everyone loves a Cinderella story. After last year’s NCAA College Basketball Tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, the world could use a Cinderella team to rally behind right now. Here are my Top 5 Cinderella Teams of 2021 March Madness.

Read our full 2021 March Madness Picks & Predictions Guide.

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2021 March Madness Cinderella Teams: Top 5 Sleepers

(Odds provided by BetMGM)

(5) San Diego State (+5000)

With +5000 odds to win the tournament, the Aztecs of San Diego State probably can’t hang with the top teams to take home the hardware.

But they might be good enough to bust your bracket.

In non-conference games earlier this season, the Aztecs took comfortably took down UCLA and Arizona State. Jordan Schakel is one of the best three-point shooters in the nation, knocking them down at 47.6 percent this season. Fresh off the heels of a Mountain West Championship win over Utah State, SDSU has the momentum to take down Syracuse and look to wreak further havoc afterward.


(4) Cleveland State University (+10000)

Absolutely nobody is picking the Vikings of Cleveland State to get past Houston in the first round. The Vikings are +10000 to make it out of the Midwest Region. They share the worst odds at +200000 to win the entire tournament.

Now, it would take a true miracle for these Horizon League Champions to make it that far, but do not sleep on head coach Dennis Gate‘s group to make some noise. The Vikings have pulled upsets in their two previous March Madness appearances, beating Indiana and St. Joseph to make the Sweet 16 in 1986 as well as beating Wake Forest as a 13 seed in 2009.

Their best player, Torrey Patton, is averaging 15.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists this season. The Vikings have some NBA magic on their side as well, as assistant coach Dru Joyce III played high school basketball with LeBron James at Saint Vincent-Saint Mary and went on to play four seasons at Akron.

Top 5 Cinderella Teams of 2021 March Madness

If you’re seeking a high-risk, high-reward team to win your bracket, look no further than Cleveland State University, which has played upset before but has a tough draw with the Houston Cougars. (Credit: USA TODAY NETWORK)


(3) Winthrop University

Everybody is eager to find the perfect 12-over-5 upset when filling out their brackets, so look no further than the Winthrop Eagles.

Coming into the dance with a 23-1 record, their lone blemish was a two-point loss at the hands of UNC Asheville. The Eagles do things the right way, and a prime example of that is guard Chandler Vaudrin, who leads the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. Vaudrin’s Eagles rank eighth in the nation in rebounding margin, which is always a welcomed bonus.

In the first round, Winthrop draws Villanova, who is coming off a loss to Georgetown in the Big East Tournament.’


(2) Ohio University

No, not THE Ohio State University. The Bobcats of OU, who are the reigning Mid-American Conference Champions after blowing out Buffalo.

The Bobcats come into March Madness red hot, winning 9 of their last 10 games, including blowing out Kent State by 22 points and Buffalo by 15 in the championship game. Four of OU’s 10 wins since January 16 have come against top-100 KenPom teams.

The Virginia Cavaliers are dealing with COVID-19 complications and missed the entire ACC tournament due to protocols. Currently, they are sitting in quarantine in Charlottesville and will not travel to Indianapolis until Friday.

Despite some TikTok drama with the NCAA that has since been resolved on arrival in Indianapolis, don’t be surprised if Ohio causes some real problems for Virginia.


(1) Loyola Chicago

Sister Jean is heading to Indianapolis, but the Midwest’s eighth-seeded Ramblers of Loyola Chicago have more than just her 101-year-old wisdom and guidance to make some noise this March.

While this team probably does not carry the same offensive prowess that the 2018 Final Four squad had, Coach Porter Moser does have a defensive unit. The Ramblers lead the nation in defensive efficiency, allowing just 55.7 points per game. Additionally, there is some holdover from that magical 2018 team, as center Cameron Krutwig is averaging 15ppg with over six rebounds.

At +4000 to win the tournament, the Ramblers have better odds than teams like Virginia and LSU (+5000). With a first-round matchup with Georgia Tech, and sharing the Midwest Region with Illinois (their likely second-round opponent if they survive Round 1) and Cade Cunningham‘s Oklahoma State, the Ramblers have a tough road ahead.


🏀 After reading The Game Day’s Top 5 Cinderella Teams for 2021 March Madness, check out our complete March Madness Bracket Picks & Betting Guide with bracket predictions, upsets and sleepers. 🏀

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