Top-10 Upsets in College Basketball over the past ten seasons
Upsets are what shapes March Madness, it can create joy for so many people but can cause pain to fans of the losing teams. There have been a lot through the years, so I wanted to narrow the upsets strictly down to the past ten seasons. This will give some perspective of what upsets have been big within the sport over the past few seasons. Upsets can happen in all the time, ranging from a higher seeded team winning, to a 16 beating a 1 seed all upsets can help make the tournament memorable. Here are my Top-10 Upsets over the past 10 seasons.
1.UMBC becomes first 16 seed to beat a 1 seed by beating Virginia
The first of type of an upset can be the best upset, which is the case with this one. For years people asked if a 16 could ever beat a 1 seed, and for a long time it was never able to happen. There had been close calls, some people even called 16 over 1 upsets but no one could have seen this one coming. Virginia had been so clearly the best team in the sport all season long, UMBC needed a buzzer-beater just to get into the big dance, yet for one night the 16 seed had everything clicking. The game was tied at the half but UMBC quickly jumped out to a 10-point lead in the second half. Virginia never was able to get anything going, meanwhile UMBC continued to play perfect basketball. In the end UMBC won 74-54 and became the first 16 seed to beat a 1 seed, making the biggest upset in College Basketball history.
2.Florida Gulf Coast makes run to the Sweet 16
15 over 2 upsets are big but usually that can be a fluke sometimes, however, Florida Gulf Coast was no fluke. The Eagles ran away from second-seeded Georgetown in the second half in part thanks to some late dunks. This upset helped earn them the title of Dunk City. The Eagles then played San Diego State in the second round, where they continued to fly high and get another upset win. This win made them the first 15 seed to make the Sweet 16, where they would go on to play Florida. Florida had refused to schedule Florida Gulf Coast earlier in the season, however, the Eagles could get their revenge on the Gators, however, the Gators won that Sweet 16 game pretty handily. That upset helped the Florida Gulf Coast program improve to be a consistent NCAA Tournament team in the future.
3.Wisconsin beats Kentucky to end their run at an undefeated season
One of the most memorable upsets of recent memory happened between two one seeds, however, that was in part because of Kentucky’s dominance. The Wildcats 2014-15 roster was absolutely loaded, starting both Harrison twins, Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl Anthony Towns, while players like Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, and Dakari Johnson came off the bench. The Wildcats had escaped Notre Dame in the Elite Eight and was now two wins away from a perfect 40-0 season. This was supposed to be a Kentucky perfect season but Wisconsin spoiled the party. The game was back and forth throughout but late in the game the Badgers made enough clutch plays to edge the Wildcats. The Badgers lost in the National Championship two days later to Duke but the Badgers still beat one of the greatest teams in College Basketball history in the Final Four.
4.VCU beats Kansas to head to Final Four
The 2011 NCAA Tournament ended up being one of the most upset heavy, which seemingly left Kansas with an easy couple of games to win a National Championship, however, no one told VCU that. The Rams entered into the game as a massive underdog, as they had to win four games just to get to the Elite Eight. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks were rolling in the tournament and they were 35-2 on the season and with no other teams seeded higher than three, they were by far the favorites to win it all. The Rams jumped out early on the Jayhawks, draining three after three and forcing havoc with their press. The Jayhawks tried to come back but ultimately fell. This marked the Rams first time making the Final Four, as the began to emerge as one of the best mid-majors in the sport.
5.Wichita State makes run to Final Four
While Wichita State has turned into a Top-20 program in the sport, that wasn’t always the case, however, their 2013 Final Four run helped fuel the Shockers rise to glory. The Shockers started the 2013 NCAA Tournament as a nine seed where they played eighth-seeded Pittsburgh. The Shockers were underdogs in that game but managed to get by in order to play top-seeded Gonzaga. The Shockers then won a thrilling game against top-seeded Gonzaga. The Shockers immediately turned from underdogs into favorites after beating Gonzaga and playing La Salle but once again the Shockers were up to the task as they won and advanced to the Elite Eight. The Shockers then had to play second-seeded Ohio State, again as massive underdogs but the Shockers were able to win the game handily and make it to the Final Four. The Shockers then played the number one overall seed Louisville and they had them on the ropes but a second-half comeback by the Cardinals ended the Shockers run. The Shockers followed that run by going undefeated in the next regular season and earning a top seed, and ever since no one will be shocked by the Shockers. This run essentially ended up being the beginning of a rise of a mid-major program into what is now a high major program in the AAC.
6.Middle Tennessee beats Michigan State
The 2016 season was notably wide open but some favorites emerged such as Michigan State. The Spartans ended up being the top two seed and they were one of the three teams favored to win the title. Meanwhile, Middle Tennessee won the CUSA tournament by surprise as they were the two seed in the Conference Tournament. The day started as a mostly boring day of NCAA Tournament games but Middle Tennessee took a surprisingly big lead early in the game. The Spartans made it close by halftime, leaving most people thinking the Spartans would win. The second half was close throughout but Michigan State couldn’t take a lead. Eventually a hopeful upset was becoming a reality, as Middle Tennessee was able to use a late run to beat the Spartans. The Blue Raiders went on to lose in the next round but still they were able to cause chaos and in the process ruin everyone’s Bracket.
7.15th seeded Norfolk State upsets 2nd seeded Missouri
Missouri’s sendoff from the Big 12 was going perfectly as they won the Big 12 Conference Championship, which earned them a two seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers were playing against Norfolk State, a team out of the MEAC, who no one gave any shot at winning this game. The game was tense throughout as the Tigers weren’t able to take control of the game early. The second half was back and forth but in the end the Spartans were able to edge out the Tigers and pull off one of the more remarkable upsets in NCAA Tournament history.
8.Lehigh beats Duke to cap off memorable day of upsets
The NCAA Tournament had seen a memorable day of upsets already as one two seed (Missouri) had already lost, which made it all the more likely that Duke would take care of business. The Blue Devils weren’t able to get a big enough advantage though, only leading by two at the half. The game was close in the second half but Lehigh was able to take the lead into the final stretches. Duke made a late run at Lehigh but it wasn’t enough as the Lehigh won 75-70. The Mountain Hawks were led by future TrailBlazer CJ McCollum who had 30 points. This capped off the first day there were ever two 15 over 2 upsets on the same day.
9.Syracuse comes back to beat Virginia and reach Final Four
The 2016 Midwest Region was setting up perfectly for Virginia, as they only needed to beat Syracuse to advance to the Final Four. They had already beaten the Orange earlier in the season and seemed poised to do it again. The Orange were on the bubble come Selection Sunday but got in. They beat Dayton, Middle Tennessee, and Gonzaga, all three teams having been seeded 7th or lower, making this run seem like a fluke. In the first half the Cavaliers looked and acted like the better team, taking a big lead into the break. The Cavaliers seemed poised to win the game handily but Syracuse flipped their defense into a full court press. Virginia panicked leading to a big second-half comeback and a Syracuse Final Four birth.
10.Loyola-Chicago makes run to Final Four
The Loyola Ramblers had one of the undervalued regular seasons this past season but in the region of doom, not many thought they had a chance to get out of the South Region. The Ramblers started their run against Miami, where they trailed late before Donte Ingram hit a game-winning three to give them the win. They then played 3rd seeded Tennessee, where again they were in need of a game-winning shot, this time it was Clayton Custer who delivered on a long jumper. Loyola then played Nevada in another close game, this time it was Marques Townes who delivered a three-pointer to lift the Ramblers to a 69-68 win. The Ramblers then got Kansas State in the Elite Eight and won 78-62 to advance to the Final Four. The Ramblers had their sights on winning the National Championship, however, a late second-half rally by Michigan led them to a win over the Ramblers. The Ramblers run was one for the ages, however, the one reason it comes so low on this list is because I think Loyola was a much better team than their seed indicated. Still any 11 seed making the Final Four is worthy of making this list.