Biggest upsets in March Madness history

9. September 2014 09:49 by Julie Merar in Basketball, College Sports  //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

Perhaps one of the greatest things about college basketball is that once the regular season ends, March Madness finds teams and fans alike thrown into a month of unpredictable basketball mayhem. The NCAA Tournament brings over a billion possible outcomes to the table, with 64 of the best teams in college basketball vying for the title of national champions. Perhaps this is why no one to date has predicted a bracket perfectly, because its pretty impossible to fully guess who's going to rise to the occasion and who's going back to the locker room in tears. Of course, the Big Dance does have some methodology. With teams seeded from 1 to 16, every basketball enthusiast and commentator has a system set for predicting upsets and bettering their odds. At the end of the day though, some teams that are considered as good as gone from the get-go come out strong and lead legendary runs over tournament favorites. Here are some of the biggest March Madness upsets of all time:

Indiana vs. Cleveland State, 1986
This first round matchup is still considered one of the biggest upsets in college basketball ever. The Indiana Hoosiers were a No. 3 seed under the coaching of the infamous Bobby Knight, and the Cleveland State Vikings were a No.14 seed that was unknown to the public. Cleveland State thrived on a "Run N' Stun" style of play that encouraged players to play as hard and fast as possible. The Vikings defeated the Hoosiers 83-79, but lost in the next round to a Navy team led by David Robinson.

Oklahoma vs. Kansas, 1988
In 1988, the Oklahoma Sooners were a team to be reckoned with, averaging over 100 points a game and usually winning by a double-digit margin. The Sooners were known for their talented offense and went into the national championship game with a 35-3 record, poised to take on the Kansas Jayhawks for all the marbles. In fact, they had already beat Kansas on two occasions during the regular season. Kansas was an unranked No. 6 seed that no one expected to have a shot against the Sooners, led by future NBA all-star Mookie Blaylock. However, led by Danny Manning, who alone put up 31 points and had 18 rebounds, the Jayhawks won the national championship, pulling off one of the greatest upsets of all time. 

Richmond vs. Syracuse, 1991
In the years leading up to this game, the Richmond Spiders had developed a reputation for upsetting some of the best teams in college basketball. In this case, the No. 15 seed was pitted against No. 2 seeded Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This was the first time in history a No. 2 seed fell to a No. 15 seed, and only one of six times it has ever happened in the history of the tournament. 

Missouri vs. Norfolk State, 2012
The first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament was a huge year for upsets. No.2 seeded Duke lost to Lehigh, but the more notable story occurred early that day between Missouri and Norfolk State. Why was this game more compelling than the one with the perennially favored Blue Devils? Mostly because Missouri could easily have been a No. 1 seed, racking up 30 wins during the regular season. Norfolk State, on the other hand, hadn't beat a major conference school all season and was predicted to lose by 20-plus points. Both teams made more than 50 percent of their shots, but Norfolk State pulled out a two-point victory, ruining brackets across the nation. 

George Mason vs. UConn, 2006
Since this game, the 2006 George Mason Patriots have often been used as an example of a classic bracket buster. The No. 11 seeded team was presented with an extremely difficult route to the Final Four and came out of nowhere. In the first round the Patriots beat a No. 6 seeded Michigan State team by 10 points, then went on to face University of North Carolina. The Patriots beat the Tar Heels and then Witchita State to wind up in an Elite Eight game against the University of Connecticut. UConn was not only a No. 2 seed, but also had a 30-3 record while playing in one of the nation's toughest conferences. Five of the players on this Huskies team would be later selected in NBA draft before the end of the second round. George Mason took out this star-studded UConn team by two points in overtime, sealing their run as one of the most miraculous March Madness teams of all time.

North Carolina State vs. Houston, 1983
North Carolina State was coming off a mediocre season with a No. 6 seed ranking, whereas Houston had a hyper-athletic team, including future NBA great Clyde Drexler. Earlier in the year, Houston had been dubbed "Phi Slama Jama​," putting up as many as 29 dunks in a single game. Going into this national championship game, everyone assumed Houston was walking away with a title. However, North Carolina State managed to slow down the Houston offense, and in one of the most tremendous moments in March Madness history, won the game with an ironic last-second slam dunk.

Does Your NCAA Tournament Bracket Mean Business?


The action and excitement of the NCAA men's basketball tournament beelines it into the workplace every year. Millions of people across the country watch the best college basketball players in the nation compete in an exciting single-elimination style event, hoping that their favorite team makes it to the final round.

It doesn't matter if you're a coffee runner or the CEO, you know you want in on the action, and you're banking on your alma mater.

More than 86 percent of employees say that they sneak peaks at gameday updates while they're at work. American workers spend 8.4 million hours in March watching their favorite teams compete throughout the final weeks of the NCAA Tournament. If you are the type to add even more excitement to your NCAA Tournament experience and participate in an office pool, you're in good company. About 60 percent of U.S. office workers said they have a stake in their favorite teams.

You might think that all this time spent keeping up with each game would create some kind of disruption in the office, but the reality of the situation is quite the opposite. When NCAA Tournaments take over your office, don't worry. Most businesses condone co-worker camaraderie. Teamwork makes the dream work, right?

You can turn the tournament into a great way to bond with your coworkers. Don't get fouled. Keep it light and fun. Wager donuts instead of dollars. Or, you can get a little creative with the prizes. Offer to clean the dishes in the break room or treat the winner to lunch. You might think the best seat in the house is in front of your television, but you can't beat the excitement of seeing the tournament unfold LIVE. Buy your NCAA Tournament tickets today and you'll be the envy of the office.

Tell us the truth. Have you ever watched the NCAA Tournament at work?

Play Like A Pro: A Guide to Winning Your NCAA Basketball Tournament Bracket

March MadnessFor basketball fans, March means bracket time. Setting up your NCAA Tournament bracket might be a cakewalk for avid college basketball fans, but if you're like me, you're scratching your head and wondering how to get in on the action without exposing a complete lack of knowledge regarding the current state of men's college basketball. If you're one of those people, consider this a lifeline. Here we will outline some of the surprisingly simple ways you can increase your chances of winning your pool, even if you don't know a lot about college basketball.

First, a bit of background.

A bracket is a visual representation of the elimination and progression of each of the 68 competing college basketball teams during tournament play. A pool is a betting structure wherein each of the players pays a buy-in fee that is then split among the winner or winners. Sometimes all you play for are bragging rights. If one of your friends, family members or co-workers asks you to participate in their March bracket pool, fear not.

After reading our guide, you'll be feeling March Happiness.

63 games is a lot. Relax. You don't have to be a sports fanatic or a fortune teller to pick your winners. Being part of a bracket pool is fun and easy with a few pointers from us. You don't need to correctly pick the winners of every game to win the pool. Points are awarded for each game outcome that you correctly predict, the pool winner being the one who earned the highest number of points. Furthermore, there are a few tricks of the trade that make winning your bracket pool easier than you might expect.

Pro Tip #1: Trust the Seeds

On Selection Sunday, a super-exclusive Selection Committee will seed each of the teams into four competing regions. That means the 68 teams will receive a seed of 1 through 17 within their region. These seedings roughly correspond to each team's rankings going into the tournament. While everybody loves an underdog, each team's seeding is a pretty reliable measure of where they will end up, at least as far as the Sweet Sixteen is concerned. Assume the top seeded teams will make it to the Sweet Sixteen, and choose a highly seeded team (No. 4 or higher) to win the trophy.

Tip-off: However, there is an exception to this rule: in the first round of games it is likely that the No. 12 seed will beat the No. 5 seeded team, at least according to history. Go ahead and throw an upset in there. Maybe two if you are feeling dangerous.

Pro Tip #2: Do Your Yesearch

While you don't need to know the free-throw percentage of every player on Duke's starting lineup, a basic familiarity with a team's strengths and weaknesses will be a big help as you narrow down your bracket from 16 teams to one.

Tip-off: If you only consider four stats, make them shooting, turnovers, rebounding and free throws. These measure the essential facets of a team's performance and should give you an overall picture of its chance of success.

Pro Tip #3: Go with Your Gut

There is no denying that winning your pool is going to require a bit of luck. The NCAA basketball tournament is single elimination - one strike and you're out. This makes for an exciting event as favorites succumb to underdogs in one fell swoop, but it also makes predicting a winner a little tricky. Alternative methods to research-focused 2014 NCAA bracket selection include what we like to call:

The Mascot Rumble: Whose mascot would win in a no-holds-barred cage match? While this may seem like a no-brainer for teams like the Michigan Wolverines and the Kansas Jayhawks, the strategy breaks down for teams like the Syracuse Orange and the Ohio State Buckeyes. That's OK. Maybe you like oranges? Or you have a thing for Brutus' scarlet and grey sweater. Pick your favorite mascot and go with your gut. 

The Coin Toss: When you are talking about the top teams in the NCAA, the odds of either one winning are about even. You have a 50/50 shot, right?

The Premonition: There is something poetic about the word Villanova. "I think one of my cousins knew somebody at Wichita State." "I think the bartender from last night went to Arizona." When you go with your gut, all reasons are valid.

So there you have it. For a winning your 2014 NCAA bracket, all you have to do is trust the seeds, do a little research, and try your luck. You may be surprised at how well you actually do.

Who do you think will take home the NCAA National Championship trophy?

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