The NCAA Tournament is nicknamed March Madness because anything can happen. Check out some of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history.
The University of Maryland-Baltimore County was the first and only 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed in the first round of a NCAA Tournament. And it wasn’t even close: UMBC defeated Virginia by 20 points. UMBC lost in the second round of the tournament to Kansas State. K.J. Maura (11) and teammate Jourdan Grant (5) of the UMBC Retrievers celebrate their 74-54 victory over the Virginia Cavaliers during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 16, 2018 in Charlotte, N.C.
Top-ranked Houston was stocked with future NBA Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, but that didn’t stop Jim Valvano’s North Carolina State team from accomplishing the near impossible. As time expired, N.C. State's center dunked the game-winner, and the Wolfpack completed the upset in the championship game. Benny Anders (32) of the University of Houston Cougars goes up for the slam dunk against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during the National Championship game in Albuquerque, N.M. on April 4, 1983.
The 1966 Texas Western team was the first team to start five black players in an NCAA basketball championship game. Texas Western was up against powerhouse Kentucky coached by legend Adolph Rupp who was seeking his fifth NCAA title. The Miners pulled off the upset and went down in history. Don Haskins, coach of Texas Western College (UTEP) in action with Willie Worsley (24) as his team defeated Kentucky 72-65 in the national championship game in the 1966 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championships held March 19, 1966 in Cole Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park, Md.
It was a Big East rematch in the 1985 NCAA Championship game, and top-ranked Georgetown was led by future NBA Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. Villanova’s Ed Pinckney scored 16 points and the Wildcats shot 79 percent from the floor to complete the upset. As an eight seed, the 1985 Villanova team remains the lowest-seed team to ever win the NCAA Tournament. Patrick Ewing (33) of Georgetown guards Ed Pinckney (54) of Villanova at the 1985 NCAA Championship Game at Rupp Arena on April 1, 1985 in Lexington, Ky.
George Mason became the first team from the Colonial Athletic Association to make the Final Four when the 11-seed Patriots upset top-ranked Connecticut in the Elite Eight. George Mason is one of three 11-seed teams to ever make the Final Four in NCAA Tournament history. After beating Connecticut in overtime, George Mason's Will Thomas, right, and teammate Folarin Campbell get busy celebrating after defeating No. 1 seed UConn, 86-84 in Washington D.C. during the NCAA tournament on March 26, 2006.
Five years after George Mason made history by being the lowest-ranked team to ever make the Final Four, Virginia Commonwealth joined the rare group. VCU pulled off the long-shot win against top-ranked Kansas in the Elite Eight by holding the Jayhawks to 35 percent shooting from the floor and 10 percent shooting from three-point range. This game put VCU coach Shaka Smart on the map. VCU's Jamie Skeen scored a game high 26 points against Kansas. Virginia Commonwealth University defeated the University of Kansas, 71-61, in the Southwest Regional Final of the men's NCAA Division I Basketball Championships at the Alamodome on March 27, 2011, in San Antonio, Texas.
A Big 12 Conference rematch in the 1988 NCAA Championship game. Top-ranked Oklahoma had already defeated six-seed Kansas twice during the regular season, and the Sooners were led by future NBA All-Star Mookie Blaylock. Kansas forward Danny Manning helped the Jayahwks pull off the upset with 31 points and 18 rebounds to win the NCAA championship. The 1988 Kansas team became known as “Danny Manning and the Miracles.” Kansas forward Danny Manning (25) dunks past Oklahoma center Stacey King (33) during the NCAA Final Four basketball championship held April 4, 1988 at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.
Entering the opening round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, Coppin State had never won an NCAA tournament game. South Carolina was a 30-point favorite, but that didn’t stop the Eagles from outscoring the Gamecocks 38-18 in the final 13 minutes of the game to pull off the upset. Guard Fred Warrick of the Coppin State Eagles shoots a jump shot as center Nate Wilbourne of the South Carolina Gamecocks tries for the block during on March 14, 1997 at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in Pittsburgh.
Hampton’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament was a shocker. The 15-seed Pirates upset Jamaal Tinsley and two-seed Iowa State. Jamaal Tinsley (11) of the Iowa State Cyclones walks off the court after the Hampton Pirates won 58-57 during the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 15, 2001 at the Boise State University Pavilion in Boise, Idaho.
Eleven years after Hampton accomplished the two-seed upset, 15-seed Norfolk State was a 21-point underdog against two-seed Missouri. Norfolk State completed the upset behind future New York Knicks forward Kyle O’Quinn who recorded 26 points and 14 rebounds against the Tigers. Norfolk State Spartans center Kyle O'Quinn, center, and Missouri Tigers forward Ricardo Ratliffe (10) chase after a rebound in the second half of a second-round game in the NCAA men's basketball tournament at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., on March 16, 2012.
The first time basketball fans heard of NBA All-Star C.J. McCollum was when he scored 30 points for Lehigh in a first-round upset against Duke during the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Lehigh's Gabe Knuston (42) celebrates a 75-70 lead over Duke with 0.4 seconds to play at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Thursday, March 16, 2012, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
An unlikely run to become the first 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16, Florida Gulf Coast started with an upset over two-seed Georgetown in the opening round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Eagles went on a 21-2 run to start the second half against the Hoyas and never looked back. Because of the amount of dunks and alley-hoops that Florida Gulf Coast threw down, the Eagles received the nickname “Dunk City.” Florida Gulf Coast forward Chase Fieler (20) protects the ball from Georgetown forward Mikael Hopkins (3) and guard Markel Starks (5) in the second half of a second-half game in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on March 22, 2013.
College basketball fans who watched the 2010 NCAA tournament remember the name Ali Farokhmanesh. The Northern Iowa guard led the nine-seed Panthers with 16 points to upset top-ranked Kansas in the second round. Northern Iowa guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe (11) watches as teammate Ali Farokhmanesh (5) hits a 3-pointer that all but shattered Kansas' hopes of a comeback late in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City on March 20, 2010.
Michigan State had a talented lineup in 2016 led by AP Player of the Year Denzel Valentine. But that didn’t stop 15-seed Middle Tennessee State from upsetting the two-seed Spartans in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The Blue Raiders forward Reggie Upshaw scored 21 points, and Middle Tennessee State hit 11 of 19 three-pointers to complete the upset. Middle Tennesee State's Perrin Buford drives past Michigan State's Eron Harris in the second half during the first round of the NCAA Tournamet on March 18, 2016, at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
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