Everybody generally loves a winner. I say generally because there is always someone who hates the winner (the loser). However, there is always one thing that everybody loves, the underdog. Talented underdogs give us a reason to root against the favorite; they make things interesting. They are the David that slays Goliath, the long shot that pays off, the proof that any team can win on any given day if they bust their behinds more than the other team.
During the March Madness Tournament, there is always at least one underdog that overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to beat the odds on favorite. The following are some of the best and most surprising upsets in NCAA Championship Tournament history.
10. #15 Richmond vs. #2 Syracuse, 1991: the Spiders from Richmond shocked the college basketball world by becoming the first #15 seed to knock off a #2 in the first round winning 73-69.
9. #15 Hampton vs. #2 Iowa State, 2001: The Hampton Pirates had their hands full with future NBA first round draft picks Marcus Fizer and Jamal Tinsley. However, it was Tarvis Williams of the Pirates knocking down a shot to pull out a 58-57 win.
8. #15 Coppin State vs. #2 South Carolina, 1997: South Carolina was expected to kill the lowly Eagles by 30 points, but instead managed to pull out a 78-65 victory for the school’s first March Madness win in school history.
7. #13 Valparaiso vs #3 Mississippi, 1998: A son was able to give his Dad a heck of a present in this 1998 opening round matchup. Bryce Drew, son of Valparaiso head coach Homer Drew, sunk a three-point bucket as time expired to give the Crusaders a 70-69 win, their first NCAA tournament win in school history.
6. #13 Princeton vs. #3 UCLA, 1996: The defending champion Bruins should have had an easy time with the nerds from Princeton. However, the Tigers ended UCLA’s chance at repeating with a last second lay-up to win, 43-41.
5. #14 Austin Peay vs. #3 Illinois, 1987: Dick Vitale was so sure that the Fighing Illini would have no trouble with the Governors from Austin Peay that he said he would stand on his head if Illinois lost. Well, those scrappy politicians thought that might be funny and upset the heavily favored Illinois squad, 68-67. Vitale failed to stay true to his word.
4. #8 Villanova vs. #1 Georgetown, 1985: The Hoya squad had future NBA ballers like Patrick Ewing and Reggie Williams playing alongside David Wingate. Villanova did not let that, or the fact that they were new affect them and they pulled out a 66-64 win over Georgetown.
3. #2 Duke vs #1 UNLV, 1991: UNLV should have been able to run away with this game. With four returning starters from the previous year’s championship squad, the team was stacked for another run. They also had not lost a game in the last 45, including a 30 point dismantling of Duke in the previous year’s title match up.
2. #11 George Mason vs. #1 UConn, 2006: With a two point in over time, 86-84,George Mason became only the second #11 to make it to the Final Four. This game had to have messed up a number of people’s brackets that year.
1. Texas Western vs. Kentucky, 1966: This infamous game was the basis for the movie Glory Road. Known for all the off-court drama, this game proved that nothing matters until both teams step onto the hardwood. It just so happened to be one heck of a game, too, with the team from Texas winning 72-65.