It’s showtime in college basketball, or March Madness, as the NCAA’s championships have been known since the early 1980s. The finals pre-date the term – the first was played in 1939 – and over such a long and illustrious life, naturally there have been plenty of March Madness upsets. Here are five of the best.
UMBC Retrievers 74 Virginia Cavaliers 54 – March 16, 2018
Going into the 2018 tournament the record of No.16 seeds versus No.1 seeds since the competition’s expansion in 1985 read 0-135. The big boys never lost – simple as!
But on March 16 that year, that stat became 1-135 when UMBC stunned Virginia in what is, by any measure, the biggest shock of the lot. And they did it in style.
The Cavaliers from UVA had gone 17-1 through their Atlantic campaign and weren’t just top seeds in the south, they were also top seeds overall.
UMBC’s Retrievers, pretty much written off as soon as the bracket was revealed, ignored the script and produced the ultimate upset by an incredible 74-54 scoreline.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 90 Michigan State Spartans 81 – March 19, 2016
Overlooked for top seeding in the MidWest, despite a conference-high 29 wins, the Spartans paid a heavy price for that anomaly.
It meant a showdown with the dangerous 15th seeds, the Blue Raiders, though it was still widely assumed Michigan State would prevail having entered the finals on a 14-0 streak.
But it was the Blue Raiders who flew out of the traps, taking a 15-2 lead early on, and they were never headed en route to a famous win.
Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 78 Georgetown Hoyas 68 – March 22, 2013
National champs? That was the millstone round the Hoyas’ necks as they took on flyweights from Fort Myers, Florida who were in Philadelphia to have fun – oh, and cause one of the biggest shocks of all time.
Georgetown were all textbook and slick; the Eagles were all about threes, alley-oops and fast breaks, a style which earned them the nickname “Dunk City”.
Valparaiso Crusaders 70 University of Mississippi Rebels 69 – March 13, 1998
The game that has gone down in NCAA folklore as “The Shot”.
Ole Miss, fourth seeds in the Midwest, were leading 69-67 with just three seconds left and were off to the free throw line to seal the deal over the 13th seed Crusaders.
But, under serious pressure, Ansu Sesay managed to miss twice from the line, Valparaiso won the rebound and Bryce Drew, who had missed a three-pointer seconds earlier, nailed one from 23 feet as the buzzer sounded as veteran CBS commentator Ted Robinson hailed “a miracle”.
Hampton Pirates 58 Iowa State Cyclones 57 – March 15, 2001
Another 2-v-15 match-up that went off-message.
The Clones flicked a switch at the interval to turn a four-point deficit into an 11-point lead with eight to play – then suddenly turned it off again.
The Pirates closed on a 14-2 winning run topped by Travis Williams winning basket with six seconds on the clock, Iowa State missed from close and cue some of the finest celebration scenes you’ll ever witness on YouTube.