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10 Most Stunning Upsets In NCAA Tournament History

The NCAA basketball tournament is upon us, and it’s brought along no shortage of shocking upsets. To celebrate March Madness, we decided to take a look back and flip through the history books. Here are ten of the most stunning upsets in the history of the NCAA tournament.

No. 15 Lehigh 75, No. 2 Duke 70 (2012)

Streeter Lecka

It’s a shocker anytime Duke goes home early. This time around it was at the hands of Lehigh, who were led by C.J. McCollum’s 30-point performance. Just a year later, the NCAA tourney would feature another baffling first-round upset.

No. 14 Harvard 68, No. 3 New Mexico 62 (2013)

John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated

Harvard is better known for academics than athletics, so it was surprising to see them top New Mexico in the first round a few years ago.

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast 78, No. 2 Georgetown 68 (2013)

Credit Michael Perez/Associated Press

Few teams have made their debut in the NCAA tourney the way Florida Gulf Coast did. Just two years after entering into DI basketball, the school made their first March Madness appearance and wallopped Georgetown. That kind of upset had its precedent set 22 years earlier.

No. 15 Richmond 73, No. 2 Syracuse 69 (1991)

Doug Mills/AP

This game ended up being a pivotal one in the history of March Madness, as it was the first time a No. 2 seed had lost to a No. 1 seed.

No. 10 Gonzaga 82, No. 2 Stanford 74 (1999)

Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review

Nobody knew that Gonzaga’s big win over Stanford was just the beginning of their NCAA stage. Since that fateful victory, the Bulldogs have made the NCAA tournament ever since and have continually proved themselves to be formidable opponents. We can’t say the same about the next underdog whose big victory was largely dependent on their star player.

No. 15 Santa Clara 64, No. 2 Arizona 61 (1993)

Roberto Boreo/ Sports Illustrated

The world learned about Steve Nash when he led Santa Clara to victory over Arizona’s stacked squad. As dramatic as this victory was, it doesn’t carry the emotional undercurrent that the next entry on our list does.

No. 11 Loyola Marymount 149, No. 3 Michigan 115 (1990)

Bob Galbraith/AP

At the time, it looked like everybody was rooting for Loyola Marymount. In the wake of the death of their teammate Hank Gathers, the No. 11 seed stunned the defending champion Michigan and proved once again that anything could happen during March Madness.

No. 6 NC State 54, No. 1 Houston 52 (1983)

Sports Illustrated

NC State had arguably the most memorable run to an NCAA title. Throughout the tournament, they squeaked out win after win and won the championship after an improbable alley-oop.

No. 16 UMBC 74, No.1 Virginia 54 (2018)

Chuck Burton/AP

There’s a first time for everything. This year was the first time in history that a No. 16 beat a No. 1–and they did so by an astonishing twenty points. The only upset that could possibly upstage this one occurred in the championship game.

No. 8 Villanova 66, No. 1 Georgetown 64 (1985)

Richard Mackson/Sports Illustrated

Villanova was the lowest seed ever to proceed to and win the NCAA championship. And they did so against Georgetown’s monster squad led by the legendary Patrick Ewing.

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