But on the 30th anniversary of the nail-biter matchup between Larry Bird's Indiana State squad and Magic Johnson of Michigan State that sparked the March Madness tradition, the big question for many basketball fans is whether the Cinderella era is gone for good – the victim of recruiting dynasties, revenue-sharing that favors power conferences, and a tourney selection committee that has to face the ratings pressures of a $6 billion TV contract.
"You're not going to get a Hoosier story, it can't happen," says William Sutton, a sports business professor at the University of Central Florida. "You've got to have a remarkable season to get a seventh or eighth spot, and you'll never have a chance to play for the national title. Your chances have been legislated out. [The NCAA] doesn't want true parity, the powers that be don't want it."
Despite late runs by mid-major schools like George Mason in 2006 and tiny Davidson last year, the fact is that, in the past 20 years, only one of every 8 teams have come from outside the power conferences like the SEC or Big East, and only UNLV has won the title, in 1990. This year, the top three seeds from all four regions made the Sweet 16 round last weekend.