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The Biggest Upsets in Basketball History


Not every basketball game goes the way you think it will. Heavy favorites do surprisingly lose matches, which shows anything can happen in sport. That occurred only last month when the Milwaukee Bucks lost a game to the Orlando Magic in the NBA playoffs.

Sportsbooks have experts that work out the odds and make sure their bosses don’t incur losses. However, they can’t get it right all the time. Even impressive sportsbooks like Bovada can get it wrong on occasion.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest upsets in the NBA and college basketball. The times when everyone just stood there with their mouth open saying: “How on earth did that just happen?”

2007: The Golden State Warriors beat the Dallas Mavericks

The 2007 NBA season produced one heck of an upset. The Dallas Mavericks had amassed a 67-15 record in the regular season with 36 home wins. Only once had a team that had won 65 or more regular-season games lost in the first round of the playoffs.

The Golden State Warriors weren’t expected to trouble the Mavericks. Only on the final day of the regular season had they clinched their playoff place. A team with a 42-40 season record who hadn’t won a playoff match for 16 years couldn’t beat the top seeds in the Western Conference, could they?

The Warriors had already beaten Dallas twice that season. The opinion was though that in a playoff match, the Mavericks would up their game and coast to victory. When Golden State went to Dallas for the opening game and came away with a win, the seeds of a massive upset were laid.

Dallas won the next match, but then they lost two away games. Now they had to win the remaining matches to survive and won the next to cut the deficit to 3-2. It’s the sixth match that was the real shocker. The Warriors didn’t just win to take the tie but won that game by 25 points. How their fans would love to have seen something like that this season.

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1994 – The Nuggets Shock the SuperSonics

All the hours spent studying sportsbook form went right out of the window in the 1994 NBA playoffs. The Seattle SuperSonics had won 61 matches in the regular season and were the top seeds in the Western Conference.

Up against eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets, the Nuggets were short odds to beat their opponents. Denver had just a 42-40 record and lost 27 times on the road. With three out of the five games scheduled being played in Seattle (who’d lost only four home games so far), it looked mission impossible for Denver.

That opinion wasn’t changed when Seattle won both of their first two home games against Denver and by an aggregate score of 34 points. It looked as if Denver’s first home game would see them lose and be knocked out.

Think again, because Denver stunned Seattle with two wins and took the game to a final match decider. With Seattle having home advantage, no one expected a Denver victory. Amazingly, the match was a close one and again went into overtime. The Nuggets prevailed by four points, and history was made. For the first time in NBA playoff history, the eighth seeds had knocked out the top seeds.

Villanova Stun the Hoyas

There have been plenty of other upsets that deserve mention in this article. Back in 1985, Georgetown Hoyas were highly fancied to win the NCAA title. With Patrick Ewing in their team, success looked guaranteed. If they were going to be defeated, it wasn’t expected to be Villanova Wildcats. They were the eighth seeds and had just a 19-10 regular-season record. Two previous meetings with Georgetown that season had ended in defeat, another loss looked on its way.

Sport isn’t that predictable, though, and it’d be a tad boring if it were. Upsets make any sport more exciting, and that’s just what happened in this match. Villanova had to keep Ewing as quiet as possible if they were to have any chance of unlikely success.

While the defense was of key importance, so was the offense. There’s no point stopping the other team scoring if you can get the points yourself. Villanova looked as if it was illegal to miss, and the second half saw them miss just one shot. They won the match 66-64 and became the lowest seeds to lift the NCAA championship.

Are more big upsets on the way? With the Bucks struggling against Miami and the Raptors in danger of losing their NBA title, more shocks that stun the sport of basketball look likely, and unless you’ve backed the favorites at a sportsbook, it’s always a welcome sight.

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