Top 10 Upsets in March Madness History


March Madness, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, is a captivating spectacle that transcends the realm of sports. It’s a cultural phenomenon that ignites a nationwide passion for college basketball. However, amidst the high-flying dunks and buzzer-beaters, it’s the upsets – the moments when lower-seeded teams topple giants – that truly capture the imagination. These unexpected victories inject an element of thrilling uncertainty into the tournament, reminding everyone that any team, on any given day, can claim victory. Here, we delve into the Top 10 Upsets in March Madness history, forever etched in the annals of the tournament.

10. No 15 Coppin State vs. No 2 South Carolina (1997)

The 1997 NCAA Tournament witnessed a classic David vs. Goliath battle. Coppin State, a historically black university with a relatively unknown program, entered the tournament as a lowly 15th seed. Their opponent? The mighty South Carolina Gamecocks, a powerhouse program boasting a 31-2 record and the No. 2 seed in the East Region. In a stunning upset, Coppin State dominated the game from the outset, capitalizing on South Carolina’s turnovers and stifling their offense. The final score: 78-65 in favor of Coppin State, sending shockwaves through the college basketball world.

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9. No 15 Santa Clara vs. No 2 Arizona (1993)

This 1993 upset marked the arrival of a young Steve Nash on the national stage. Santa Clara, a 15th seed, faced off against the heavily favored Arizona Wildcats, a perennial contender seeded No. 2 in the West Region. The game was a back-and-forth affair, with Santa Clara clinging to a narrow lead throughout. In the closing seconds, Nash, then a sophomore point guard, sank a free throw to seal the victory, 64-61. This upset not only propelled Santa Clara into the national spotlight but also launched the illustrious career of one of basketball’s greatest floor generals.

8. No 13 Princeton vs. No 4 UCLA (1996)

UCLA, a powerhouse program with a rich history of championship success, entered the 1996 tournament as the No. 4 seed in the West Region. However, their path to victory was unexpectedly derailed by a determined Princeton Tigers squad. The 13th-seeded Tigers, known for their Princeton offense (a methodical, passing-oriented system), executed flawlessly. UCLA, accustomed to a faster-paced game, struggled to contain Princeton’s patient offense. The final buzzer sounded with a score of 43-41 in favor of Princeton, leaving the heavily favored Bruins stunned.

7. No 15 Lehigh vs. No 2 Duke (2012)

The 2012 tournament served up another classic underdog story. Lehigh, a 15th seed, faced the mighty Duke Blue Devils, a perennial contender boasting the No. 2 seed in the East Region. Lehigh, known for their disciplined play and three-point shooting prowess, surprised Duke from the opening tip. They bombarded the Blue Devils with threes, building a comfortable lead. While Duke attempted a late comeback, it wasn’t enough, as Lehigh secured a historic 75-70 victory, sending shockwaves through college basketball.

6. No 15 Richmond vs. No 2 Syracuse (1991)

The 1991 tournament witnessed another remarkable underdog victory. Richmond, a 15th seed, entered their matchup against the No. 2 seeded Syracuse Orange with little fanfare. However, the Spiders, fueled by a passionate home crowd, defied expectations. They shut down Syracuse’s offense and capitalized on scoring opportunities, eventually securing a narrow 73-69 victory. This upset not only sent Richmond on a magical tournament run but also cemented their place in March Madness history. Having revisited some of the earlier Top 10 Upsets in March Madness, let’s delve into the latter half of our list, showcasing more recent Cinderella stories that continue to resonate with fans.

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5. No 8 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No 1 Georgetown (2013)

The 2013 tournament witnessed a new chapter in March Madness lore. Florida Gulf Coast, a program in just its 10th year of Division I existence, entered the tournament as an unlikely 8th seed. Their opponent? The mighty Georgetown Hoyas, a historic program boasting the No. 1 seed in the West Region. Fueled by an energetic playing style and a raucous home crowd, Florida Gulf Coast dominated the game from the outset. Their relentless energy and three-point shooting barrage overwhelmed Georgetown, culminating in a shocking 78-68 victory. This upset not only propelled Florida Gulf Coast into the national spotlight but also signified the growing parity within college basketball.

4. No 15 Norfolk State vs. No Missouri (2012)

The 2012 tournament witnessed a double dose of Cinderella magic. Norfolk State, a 15th seed from the MEAC conference, faced the No. 2 seeded Missouri Tigers in the Midwest Region. Similar to Lehigh’s upset over Duke earlier in the tournament, Norfolk State employed a disciplined approach, stifling Missouri’s offense and capitalizing on their own scoring opportunities. The game remained close throughout, but clutch free throws down the stretch secured a historic 86-84 victory for Norfolk State. This upset further solidified the notion that any team, with the right combination of talent, strategy, and heart, can achieve greatness in March Madness.

3. No 8 Butler vs. No 1 UConn (2011)

The 2011 tournament gifted us a thrilling underdog story that unfolded over multiple games. Butler, an 8th seed from the Horizon League, embarked on an improbable run, defeating higher-seeded teams to reach the championship game. Their most significant hurdle? The No. 1 seeded UConn Huskies, a dominant team seeking their third consecutive national championship. The championship game was a nail-biter, with both teams trading baskets throughout. In the closing seconds, a dramatic sequence saw Butler miss a potential game-winning shot, but they secured the rebound and putback for a heart-stopping 53-52 victory. This upset not only cemented Butler’s place in March Madness history but also highlighted the captivating drama that can unfold on the biggest stage.

2. No 16 UMBC vs. No 1 Virginia (2018)

The 2018 tournament witnessed arguably the most improbable upset in March Madness history. UMBC, a 16th seed from the America East conference, entered their matchup against the No. 1 seeded Virginia Cavaliers with virtually no expectations. Virginia boasted an undefeated record and was heavily favored to win the championship. However, UMBC defied all odds. They unleashed a barrage of three-pointers and played with an unyielding determination, leaving the stunned Cavaliers in their wake. The final score: 74-56 in favor of UMBC, etching their names in the history books as the first-ever 16th seed to defeat a No. 1 seed.

1. No 8 Villanova vs. No 1 Georgetown (1985)

While many recent upsets have garnered significant attention, some classics deserve their place at the top. The 1985 tournament witnessed a legendary upset that transcended the sport. Villanova, an 8th seed known for their disciplined play, faced the No. 1 seeded Georgetown Hoyas, a juggernaut led by the iconic Patrick Ewing. The game was a tense affair, with Villanova clinging to a slim lead throughout. In the closing seconds, Villanova’s freshman guard, Rollie Massimino, called a timeout with just seconds remaining. The play he designed, now known simply as “The Shot,” was flawlessly executed by freshman guard Kerry Kittles, who sank a buzzer-beating jump shot to secure a 85-84 victory for Villanova. This upset not only sent Villanova on a magical tournament run that culminated in a national championship victory but also cemented its place as one of the most iconic moments in March Madness history.

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Summing It Up: March Madness – A Celebration of the Unexpected

These Top 10 Upsets in March Madness represent a mere fraction of the Cinderella stories that have unfolded throughout March Madness history. They remind us that in the single-elimination format of the tournament, anything is possible. Beyond the Top 10 Upsets in March Madness themself, March Madness celebrates the dedication of student-athletes, the passion of coaches, and the unwavering support of devoted fans. It’s a captivating spectacle that transcends the realm of

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