March Madness is finally here.
But before we get too deep into the tournament, and before you burn you bracket, let’s take a look at some of the greatest upsets that have taken place over the years.
Disclaimer: This list is sure to either bring you great joy, or great pain.
UMBC 74, Virginia 54 (2018 Round of 64)
We all knew that one day it would eventually happen, we just figured we wouldn’t be alive to see it. Well, last year, it happened. Without the services of star freshman DeAndre Hunter, the Cavaliers got blown out by the school that Stringer Bell went to on “The Wire” as Jairus Lyles scored 28 points as the University of Maryland-Baltimore County became the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed.
Florida Gulf Coast 78, Georgetown 68 (2013 Round of 64)
Remember Dunk City?
Florida Gulf Coast announced itself to the world by knocking off Otto Porter and the No. 2-seeded Hoyas. Sherwood Brown scored 24 points, but the alley-oops and highlight-reel dunks were what we all remember, as the program was only in its second season of Division I tournament eligibility. FGC became the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 after beating No. 7 San Diego State in the Round of 32.
Lehigh 75, Duke 70 (2012 Round of 64)
C.J. McCollum put on a show! You may know him as one of the best guards in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers now, but back then he was just a skinny kid that dropped 30 points on Duke. McCollum led the 15th seeded Mountain Hawks to a victory over a second-seeded Blue Devils squad that included six players who would eventually play in the NBA.
Norfolk State 86, Missouri 84 (2012 Round of 64)
On the same day that Duke lost to Lehigh, Norfolk State kept the trend of No. 15 seeds beating No. 2 seeds going by defeating Missouri just hours after the tournament had experienced a historic upset. Kyle O’Quinn was unstoppable with 26 points and 14 rebounds, as he led the Spartans to victory, giving the Historically Black College one of the best moments in HBCU athletics.
Princeton 43, UCLA 41 (1996 First Round)
Seven years after the Tiger lost by one point to Georgetown in a 1-16 matchup, Princeton broke through as a No. 13 seed and shocked defending national champion UCLA, a 4-seed. A backdoor cut by Gabe Lewullis, a staple of the Princeton offense, wound up being the winning basket in the final seconds.
Mercer 78, Duke 71 (2014 Round of 64)
It was the classic case of youth versus experience. It’s the only way to explain how a Duke team led by freshman Jabari Parker and a host of underclassmen that would one day play in the NBA, could lose to a group of veterans from a small school in Macon, Georgia. Jakob Gollon led the way for the No. 14 seed Bears as they defeated the 3-seeded Blue Devils just two years after Duke suffered a first-round tournament exit.
George Mason 86, UConn 84, OT (2006 East Regional Final)
It was the streak that put Jim Larranaga on the map, as the 11th-seeded Patriots stunned top-seeded UConn in a classic forced into overtime by the Huskies’ Denham Brown’s layup at the buzzer. Coming out of the Colonial Athletic Association, George Mason knocked off Michigan State, North Carolina, and the Huskies on their magical trip to the Final Four.
Middle Tennessee 90, Michigan State 81 (2016 First Round)
Three years ago, Michigan State was picked second most to win the national title on online brackets. That wasn’t the case when the second-seeded Spartans could never catch a rhythm against the hot-shooting Blue Raiders (57.9% from 3-point range), as national player of the year candidate Denzel Valentine was held to just 13 points while committing six turnovers.
N.C. State 54, Houston 52 (1983 National Championship)
The sixth-seeded Wolfpack needed to win ACC tournament just to reach the Big Dance and survived an overtime game with Pepperdine in the first round before facing Houston and Phi Slama Jama. The Wolfpack controlled the pace of the game as Houston didn’t get its first dunk until well into the second half. With the scored tied at 52 and seconds remaining, Dereck Whittenburg launched a long desperation shot that was going to fall just short before Lorenzo Charles slammed it home at the buzzer for the win, causing Jim Valvano to lose his mind.
Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 (1985 National Championship)
Villanova needed to be perfect, and that’s what the Wildcats were when they shot 78.6% from the field in one of the biggest championships upsets of all time. The Patrick Ewing-led Hoyas beat St. John’s in the Final Four leading Hoyas fans to believe they were headed home with their second straight national championship trophy. But these Wildcats weren’t scared of Georgetown, having already lost two games by a total of nine points to their Big East rival. The rest was history.
- With Carron J. Phillips and Ian Powers