Mackey’s Cinderella Run Is a Marvel Redeemed

Posted on April 7, 2014 by


Kevin Mackey’s 1986 Cleveland State Vikings basketball team was the first team in the NCAA Tournament to make a Cinderella run.

Cleveland State would end their regular season with a record of 24-3 overall and 13-1 in the league. This gave them the chance to play in the AMCU-8 tournament. They would go on to win four straight games, including the championship match, giving them an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Cleveland State was a 14th ranked seed in the tournament. They would go on to face Indiana, which was ranked at a 3 seed. Not backing down, Cleveland State went on to upset Indiana, starting the first ever “Cinderella Run.” This was the first ever 14th-seed to win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

This win set up a second round match-up between Cleveland State and St. Joseph’s. The Vikings would once again upset another team, continuing their historical run. Cleveland State had a chance to play in the Sweet 16.

However, the Vikings historical season would come to an end with a one-point loss to Navy.

This Cleveland State team had its very own style of play called the “Run and Stun.” They would use full-court pressure the entire forty minutes of every game. This is something spectators rarely ever see in basketball. Maybe it was just one the reasons why this team had the success they did.

But Kevin Mackey had a substance abuse problem, which landed him in prison. After this, no one in basketball touched him for thirteen years.

…Until 2003.

It was Larry Bird who personally called Kevin Mackey. Larry Bird wanted to hire Mackey as a scout for the Indiana Pacers. Mackey took the job and was back in basketball. Kevin Mackey would later go back into coaching.

“It is an unbelievable thing how people can change,” added Sophomore Sam Lerch.

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