Skip to main content

Top 10 March Madness upsets in history

Villanova

March is one of the most exciting times for basketball fans, as College basketball reaches its peak with March Madness. The single-game elimination tournament provides us with do or die games that often go down to the wire and leave many broken-hearted. We have seen numerous upsets in this year's tournament, and that has inspired us to list the ten craziest upsets in the history of March Madness. The selection was pretty tough with multiple amazing games and upsets, but these are the best of the best, in my opinion. Let's get started:

#10 No.15 Leigh beats No.2 Duke (2012)

Before he became a star player in the NBA, C.J. McCollum was the leader at Leigh Univerisity. McCollum dropped 30 points in the 75-70 upset over Duke in the first round of the 2012 tournament. The No.2 seeded Blue Devils were not the best team Coach K ever had, but players like Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, and the Plumlee brothers were enough to make them heavy favorites. The No.15 seeded Leigh surprised everybody, but their run stopped in the next round as they lost to Xavier.

#9 No.15 Norfolk State beats No.2 Missouri (2012)

This upset came on the same day as the last one between Leigh and Duke, making it a historic college basketball day. Missouri, a team that lost four times all season, would shockingly lose 86-84 in the 2nd round to the underdog Norfolk State, with former NBA player and current Fenerbahce player Kyle O'Quinn dominating and notching 26 points and 14 rebounds. It was a dramatic game with both teams firing on all cylinders, but in the end, Norfolk State managed to chop away a two-point victory.

#8 No.11 George Mason beats No.1 UConn (2006)

Being 30-3 that season, UConn was considered the best team in the nation that year, with Rudy Gay at the helm. Unfortunately for them, they would run into one of the best Cinderella teams in history. George Mason, a team with no NBA players and the tallest player being 6'8'', managed to get into the Final Four as the most unlikely team ever. They would bounce out the heavy favorites UConn in the Final Eight by beating them in an overtime thriller 86-84. The 2006 Patriots are still one of the best stories in the history of March Madness.

#7 No.13 Princeton beats No.4 UCLA (1996)

This was a very tough game to watch with a lot of nervousness and tough defense being played. In this fight-to-score game, the Princeton Tigers managed to scrape away a 43-41 victory over the defending champions UCLA Bruins and bouncing them out of the first round. The game-winning basket came off a backdoor layup by Gabe Lewullis with 3.9 seconds to go. The legendary Princeton coach Pete Carril managed to get a massive win in his last season there.

#6 No.15 Santa Clara beats No.2 Arizona (1993)

This game proved to be a coming-out party for the 2-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, as the Canadian freshman scored 10 points along with 4 assists, playing a massive role in his team Santa Clara upsetting Arizona 64-61 in the first round. The Wildcats had a fantastic team, with names like Damon Stoudamire, Khalid Reeves, Chris Mills, and three other NBA players. But it wasn't enough to beat Santa Clara that day.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

#5 No.16 UMBC beats No.1 Virgina (2018)

The most recent upset on this Top 10 List happened in 2018, with UMBC becoming the first No.16 seed in history to knock out a No.1 seed in the first round. The 31-2 Virginia Cavaliers got crushed 74-54 by the red hot Retrievers, who shot 12-24 from the three-point line, and Jairus Lyles leading the way with 28 points.

#4 No.15 Richmond beats No.2 Syracuse (1991)

This was the first 2-15 upset since implementing the expanded bracket. Syracuse had a great season with a 25-5 record led by the number three pick in the Draft Billy Owens, but it wasn't enough to beat the inspired Spiders led by Curtis Blair and his 18 points. Richmond jumped ahead in the first half and managed to fight off a strong push from Syracuse to win the game and shock the world.

#3 No.14 Cleveland State beats No.3 Indiana (1986)

This was one of the upsets that changed the course of college basketball history, as no one expected the legendary Indiana Hoosiers at the helm with Bobby Knight and Steve Alford to get bounced out in the first round of the 1986 Tournament. It was far from the best Indiana team ever, but losing in the first round to the Cleveland State Vikings 83-79 was a shock. The Vikings were led by Clinton Ramsey and his 27 points and Ken "Mouse" McFadden, who established his name in that game.

#2 No.8 Villanova beats No.1 Georgetown (1985)

In the 1980s, the Georgetown Hoyas were considered a college basketball dynasty, as this was their third championship game in just four years. With a 25-2 record and 16-game winning streak up to the championship game, the Hoyas were a heavy favorite against their Big East rival Villanova. Having Patrick Ewing, Reggie Williams, and David Wingate on their side was a massive advantage for Georgetown. But Villanova played an almost perfect game, shooting 78% from the floor and missing only one shot in the 2nd half. The Wildcats had no business being in the Championship game, but with numerous upsets, they made their way there, and on the wings of Dwayne McClain and Ed Pinckney emerged as champions in the 66-64 victory.

#1 No.6 North Carolina beats No.1 Houston (1983)

North Carolina played the majority of the season unranked, finishing the season with a 17-10 record. They would manage to stumble their way into the ACC Tournament, where they clawed out their ticket to the NCAA Tournament as the No.6 seed. Despite all of that, they made a run and got into the Championship Game only to face Houston's monster team led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Everybody was ready for a blowout, but the Wolfpack fought and managed to shock the world, beating Houston 54-52 with Lorenzo Charles dunking the ball at the buzzer and sending everyone into a frenzy. A 26 game winning streak was snapped, as David and Goliath's story was rewritten again in the world of college basketball. It doesn't get any better than this.

Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird and Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins

“I did not shake Larry Bird’s hand for 13 years” — Dominique Wilkins reveals the truth about his rivalry with Larry Bird

Wilkins said that he and Larry never really had to talk or shake hands to let each other know that the respect was there.

Los Angeles Lakers small forward Kobe Bryant and San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker

How Kobe Bryant learned to speak french so he could trash talk Tony Parker

Tony Parker did his best not to react to Kobe Bryant's french but deep inside he couldn't stop laughing.

Elton John and Philadelphia 76ers forward Elton Brand

“Well you rebound like Elton John” — Elton Brand explains why he only lasted 24 hours on Twitter

Elton Brand did not find social media useful. Instead, he saw it as a platform where random people can easily insult him.

Karl-Malone-John-Stockton

“They should be honored because they got to play with me” — Greg Ostertag's epic tribute to Karl Malone and John Stockton

Ostertag explained why Stockton and Malone should be everyone's rolemodels if they want to be great in the NBA.

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett

"My wife is like, ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’" - Kevin Garnett admits he felt the itch to make an NBA return

Kevin Garnett admitted that at one point, he thought his body was urging him to make an epic NBA return.

New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum

CJ McCollum signs a two-year, $64 million extension with the New Orleans Pelicans

With McCollum now secured for the future alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans are a team to keep an eye on.