Florida Gulf Coast University is the darling of the NCAA basketball tournament, becoming the first 15-seed to advance to the Sweet 16. It is already being called one of the greatest Cinderella stories in college history. But I had to wonder: how does it compare to perhaps the greatest Cinderella story in baseball, the 2008 Fresno State baseball team?
If you aren’t familiar with it, I can’t blame you, as I’ve mentioned before, not many people pay attention to college baseball, especially outside of the College World Series. So I’ll refresh your memory: in 2008, the Fresno State Bulldogs, who only was able to qualify for the baseball tournament thanks to winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament. They were placed into their initial pool as a 4-seed (early rounds of NCAA baseball tournament are double-elimination pools), the equivalent of being a 13 seed or lower in March Madness.
But, a funny thing happened, not only did they advance through their regional and then super-regional pool, but they ended up winning the College World Series, defeating Georgia. They became the lowest seed ever to win a NCAA championship.
So, is FGCU more impressive than that?
Well, no. Mainly, this is because FGCU hasn’t won the tournament, and it probably won’t. However, should they continue on, that answer could change. The reason for this is because of the differences between baseball and basketball.
You see, unlike baseball, basketball doesn’t have any real “equalizer” position. While having a dominant player like a Lebron James or Kevin Durant definitely can help, there is no pitcher who can shut down the opposing offense or hockey goalie who can stand on his head. That means that, usually, the entire team more or less has to play above expectations if they intend to pull off an upset, or have their opponent have a bad day on the same day they have a few players have a good day. So to pull an upset in basketball is far more impressive and rare than an upset in baseball.
However, as I said, FGCU still has a long way to go. Fresno State, after all, won the whole thing- and that means that the Gulf Coast players will have to win four more games if they aim to take the overall crown of the greatest Cinderella in college sports history.