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Top 40 NCAA Tournament Upsets That Changed College Basketball

Darren - March 21, 2022
Featured

Top 40 NCAA Tournament Upsets That Changed College Basketball

Darren - March 21, 2022
Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

13. Florida Gulf Coast vs. Georgetown (2013)

Georgetown is a basketball powerhouse but they have endured some shocking upsets over the years. One of the most recent was against Florida Gulf Coast. The 15th-seeded team shouldn’t have had hope against the second seeds. But March Madness always delivers chaos.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

‘Dunk City’ became one of the most fun teams of the month. Sherwood Brown and Bernard Thompson had the games of their respective young lives. Both men scored over 20 points as they stole the show. This was a great display because they dunked five times against the Hoyas (via S.F. Gate).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

12. George Mason vs. Connecticut (2006)

George Mason was the name on everybody’s lips after their unlikely run to the Final Four. This included an improbable victory over Connecticut in Elite Eight. The Big East winners should have probably had too much for the N0. 11 seed.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

After all, the Huskies are one of the strongest teams in the NCAA tournament. But George Mason had a series of inspired performances. After beating Michigan State they continued to show resolve. Finally, they defeated Connecticut to win the hearts of the nation (via Yardbreaker).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

11. Marist vs. Georgia (2012)

Marist played No. 4 seed Georgia in 2012 and pulled off a shock victory. Statistically, this was unlikely because there are fewer upsets in the women’s game. That’s why Marist was the only 13th seed to win a tournament game in the 2010s (via SBNation).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Red Foxes overcame the Lady Bulldogs 76-70. Corielle Yarde was on fire as she scored 21 points for Marist. This was a fantastic win for the school because everybody disregarded them. But they didn’t have an inferiority complex and surprised the basketball landscape.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

10. Hampton vs. Iowa State (2001)

Iowa had a lot of confidence in 2001 but they ground to an unexpected halt. They had a future NBA first-round draft pick in their ranks in Jamaal Tinsley. Meanwhile, the 2nd seeds had a good record in the tournament. They should have rolled over Hampton easily.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

But they wouldn’t be on this list if they did. Instead, it was Hampton who celebrated a famous victory. The school took a late 58-57 lead with seconds left on the clock. Iowa still had a single opportunity to score but Tinsley fluffed his lines (via ESPN).

Mandatory Credit: Stadium

9. Santa Clara vs. Arizona (1993)

Arizona was in strong shape in 1993. They had a future NBA star on their hands in Damon Stoudamire. The No.2 seeds carried the favorites tag into their March Madness game against lowly Santa Clara. Many people had never even heard of the Broncos before.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

However, Steve Nash and his exciting, dynamic teammates changed that. Nash blossomed in the spotlight as he scored six consecutive free throws. Meanwhile, the Broncos became just the second 15th seed team to win a tournament game (via L.A. Times).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. Northern Iowa vs. Kansas (2009)

Kansas suffered a shocking and humiliating loss in 2009. That’s because they became the first top overall seed to lose a first-round game. Northern Iowa became one of the all-time bracket busters when they shocked the Jayhawks. They just shouldn’t have pulled it off.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

But somehow, they did. It was a back-and-forth clash of the titans with both teams leading at various points. The Panthers secured a narrow one-point lead with minutes left. But then they sealed the win with a glorious three-pointer. In the end, they made it to the Elite Eight (via Vegas Insider).

Mandatory Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal

7. Duke vs. UNLV (1991)

Duke was the victim of several March Madness upsets over the years. However, they also pulled off one of the most dramatic in history. In 1991, UNLV impressed everybody to the extent that they appeared unbeatable. Some analysts believed that the Larry Johnson-led team was the greatest NCAA team ever.

Mandatory Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Then the Blue Devils broke their hearts. It was a take of revenge for Duke because they suffered a crushing loss to UNLV the previous season. But they stayed calm and pulled off a tight victory in the Final Four. UNLV couldn’t believe what had just happened (via Indy Star).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

6. Virginia Commonwealth vs. Kansas (2011)

Many people didn’t think that VCU should even have been in the tournament. Tournament bettors didn’t expect them to stick around for long. But they received a couple of great fixtures that saw them cruise into the Elite Eight. That’s where they faced the Jayhawks.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Most gamblers expected their run to end because Kansas had a much stronger team. However, VCU roared into an insurmountable lead. They led by 17 points before the Jayhawks even got on the scoreboard. The No. 1 seed didn’t know what was happening (via L.A. Times).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. Duke vs. Michigan State (2009)

A top seed rarely stumbles in the early rounds of the women’s tournament. But that’s what made this game such a massive shock. The Blue Devils took on Michigan State in the second round. They also had a clutch of future WNBA stars on their roster.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

In the end, it didn’t matter because they couldn’t overcome Michigan. After beating Tennessee, Michigan came into this game with a lot of confidence. Their enthusiasm and desire surprised Duke. In the end, the Spartans came out on top as 60-59 winners (via State News).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

4. Middle Tennessee vs. Michigan State (2016)

Kermit Davis established his reputation as one of the most promising coaches in the college game after this victory. That’s because he helped plot Middle Tennessee’s victory over Michigan in March Madness. The 15th seeds somehow defeated one of the tournament favorites.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

MSU had more turnovers but the Blue Raiders didn’t wilt. Their shooting was on point as all of their forwards went into double figures. It was a massive shock because they defeated a second-seed team. But they earned their victory because of their courage and gameplan (via The Comeback).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Richmond vs. Syracuse (1991)

Richmond was the 15th seed in 1991. Needless to say, nobody had much hope of them beating the Orange. Syracuse carried 2nd seed tags into this game and had an excellent record. No 15 seed had ever won an NCAA tournament game before this one.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

That’s what made this such a great day in Richmond school history. They claimed this accolade after beating Syracuse in a tight affair. In the end, they finished the game 73-69. It wasn’t the most exciting game in the world but it was a unique moment (via Baltimore Sun).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. UMBC vs. Virginia (2018)

Many people will believe that this game deserves the top spot. They may have a point because it’s the only time a 16-seeded team defeated a top seed in history. This had never happened before in 165 opportunities but UMBC became the first (via Athlon Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Virginia only lost a pair of games all season by just eight points. Meanwhile, UMBC suffered massive defeats to garbage teams like Albany. Nonetheless, form goes out the window when March Madness raises its head. UMBC won convincingly, 74-54.

Mandatory Credit: Washington Post

1. Villanova vs. Georgetown (1985)

This remains one of the biggest NCAA tournament upsets ever. On paper, Georgetown was the strongest team in the bracket. Firstly, they were the defending champions. Meanwhile, they also had Patrick Ewing on their books. The future NBA star performed brilliantly for them all season (via History).

Mandatory Credit: AP

They faced Villanova for the championship after beating twice already that year. Georgetown even led and outshot their rivals at several stages. But Villanova was clinical on the day. They defeated two first seeds and a pair of seconds seeds to win the title. It was one of the greatest wins in college basketball history.

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