If you’ve been paying attention to the NCAA March Madness Tournament, you’re seeing some of the biggest upsets to ever occur in the NCAA.
With that in mind, it seems only fitting to revisit some of the greatest upsets in this tournament of all time. These are the times when David beat Goliath and the giant fell at the feet of the higher-seeded Cinderella team. Let’s take a look.
2001 – Hampton vs. Iowa State
This was the first appearance in the NCAA Tournament for Hampton and they came in as a 15 seed, which means they were facing an Ioway State team that was seeded as a 2 in their bracket. Hampton came out on top by one point with a score of 58-57 at the end. The celebration ensued and we saw one of the biggest upsets of this incredible tournament.
2016 – Middle Tennessee State vs. Michigan State
Spartan fans are still reeling and feeling the pain of this five-year-old wound. Middle Tennessee came in as a fifteen with Michigan State showing up as a huge favorite as a two-seed. The Spartans had just won the Big Ten Tournament and expected to go deep in the NCAA Tournament, but were thwarted with a 90-81 defeat at the hands of Middle Tennessee State.
2006 – George Mason vs. UConn
Both teams had made it past the first three rounds which gave us an unusual 1 vs 11 matchup for this game. UConn came in as a prohibitive favorite and George Mason had nothing to lose. This became one of the biggest upsets in tournament history as the game when to overtime in this Elite Eight game. George Mason won the game 86-84, sending UConn home with their tails between their legs.
1993 – Santa Clara vs. Arizona
If you’ve heard of Steve Nash, this upset might not surprise you, but at the time of this game, he was a relatively unknown player. Nash led his 15-seeded Santa Clara team over a powerhouse Arizona squad that had earned a 2-seed for the tournament. With six late free throws made by Nash, the Broncos were able to pull off the victory with a final score of 64-61.
1996 – Princeton vs. UCLA
Although UCLA was coming into the tournament as defending national champions, they find themselves in a 13 vs 4 matchup against Princeton. The Tigers were ready for the game and gave more credibility to the feeling that every year we see a 13 beat a 4 in this tournament. Princeton won the game43-41, showcasing their defensive prowess with a game that offered a low score at the end.
1991 – Richmond vs. Syracuse
For many years, Syracuse has been a basketball powerhouse and at the time of this upset, they were part of the Big East. After winning the championship, Syracuse was expected to roll through the NCAA but the Richmond Spiders had other thoughts. This was another of the rare 15-2 seed games that became one of the biggest upsets in this tournament. The final score was Richmond 73, Syracuse 69, sending Syracuse home after only one game.
1991 – Duke vs. UNLV
A number 2 vs number 1 matchup doesn’t sound like it should be among the biggest upsets of the NCAA Tournament until you look at the story. UNLV was riding a 45 game winning streak and came into this game after beating Duke by 30 in the title game only one year prior. Duke pulled out the upset and beat the Runnin’ Rebels by two to head to the title game with a 79-77 win.
2018 – UMBC vs. Virginia
Not only was Virginia a 1-seed, but they were also the overall favorites to win the tournament in 2018. Never before had a 16-seed beaten a 1-seed in the tournament, but the Retrievers had other thoughts on their mind. UMBC took this challenge and came out on top with a massive score of 74-54 over UVA at the end of the tame. The following year, UVA would win the national championship, but on this day, UMBC was the better team.
1985 – Villanova vs. Georgetown
These two teams were familiar with each other, playing twice in conference play earlier in the year. The Hoyas had won both of the previous meetings against the Wildcats, but with 78 percent shooting from the floor, Villanova found its way to victory. This was a matchup that gave us a 1 vs 8 pairing that ended up being one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history. The final score was 66-64.
1983 – NC State vs. Houston
The biggest upset In NCAA Tournament history featured head coach Jim Valvano into the storybooks of college basketball. The Wolfpack ad to win the ACC Tournament just to get into the NCAA Tournament and were not expected to beat a star-studded lineup that Houston brought to this championship game. As a six-seed, NC State took down the overall number one-seeded Houston by a score of 54-52 to win the national championship.