Cinderella is the perfect analogy for an underdog team making a tournament run. The beauty of the NCAA Tournament is that any school no matter how big or small has a chance. It’s not a best of series, it’s one game and anything can happen on that given day. Cinderella had a chance to go to the ball and even though it was unlikely she would win the eyes of Prince Charming, she did. Just like St. Peter’s stunned Kentucky, then Murray State and then Purdue.
Who doesn’t love an underdog? We get sick of the same team winning over and over-the Patriots, Tom Brady, Alabama football. It’s nice to have someone different from the favorite, especially someone unexpected. This is the first time a 15 seed has ever made the Elite 8 making it even more exciting.
Another reason to love the Peacocks is how fearless they play. They never get rattled, their defensive pressure is relentless, and they look like they are having fun. It’s a joy to watch. They’re aren’t playing scared and I love Coach Holloway’s quote after beating Kentucky. “I got kids from New Jersey and New York. You think we’re scared of anything?” Having lived my whole life in New Jersey, I’ll admit we have a bit of edge and some swag that people in other areas of the country may hate but it’s what we thrive on. Holloway is right, the Peacocks ain’t scared of anything.
The other reason this is such a great story is because of how improbable it is. It’s hard to be the small fish in a big pond. The resources at some of these bigger schools is so much larger than the smaller conferences that it is hard to compete with. The tiny school from Jersey City has beaten some of the biggest and best basketball schools in the country. If you look at the athletic budget and size of St. Peter’s and Kentucky, it truly is amazing that the Peacocks won. Kentucky spent $138 million on athletics in 2020 and $18.3 million on basketball. St. Peter’s spent $7 million on athletics and $1.6 million on basketball. Kentucky’s undergrad enrollment is 20,500 vs 2,190 at St. Peter’s. The difference between these two schools is staggering.
Another fun part of this Cinderella run has been that is has put St. Peter’s and New Jersey on the map. Prior to the tournament a lot of people never heard of St. Peter’s. Now the whole country is talking about them. Since New Jersey doesn’t have a power basketball school, this is very exciting for our state. The fun and intensity St. Peter’s has been playing with has truly captured the nation.
Just as everyone rooted for Cinderella to win over Prince Charming (who didn’t-her stepmother and stepsisters were awful to her!), almost everyone is rooting for the Peacocks to continue this magical run. I’ll admit that I’m a bit torn since the Peacocks will be playing North Carolina next. My brother went to Chapel Hill so I’m going with family and the Tarheels. I also love this Tarheel team and how well they have been playing lately on their own tournament run.
But I won’t be that upset if they lose because the Peacocks run is truly a fairy tale that I don’t think anyone could have scripted. And who doesn’t love getting to use the Peacock emoji on their phone…is it sad I find that so exciting? So we will see what happens tonight. Will the clock strike midnight and the magic end or will this magical run continue? Regardless of what happens tonight the Peacocks have captured our hearts and are on one of the most improbable runs in tournament history. And that is one fairy tale we never want to see end.