NCAA March Madness: Top 4 First Round Upsets
It’s Tourney Time! This may be the greatest sports weekend of the year. The first two rounds of the NCAA men’s tournament (sorry, I still count the “First Round” as “play-in games.” Deal with it NCAA!) are the most exciting 2 days of basketball of the year. Then it’s followed by 2 more great days on the weekend.
Of course, we’re all hoping our bracket doesn’t get busted and our upset picks make us look like geniuses. That’s what it’s all about, right? The upsets. That’s why we watch these 4 days – that and it’s a generally acceptable reason not to do much work!
So I thought in honor of these 4 great days I’d rank the top 4 first round upsets of all-time. Not that I’m a college basketball expert of course, but when it comes to upset, even the experts don’t see them coming.
The Top 4
- No. 15 Middle Tennessee St over No. 2 Michigan State (2016): 90-81. – This was just last year, and many people has Sparty as the favorites to win it all. Tom Izzo’s team was led by Denzel Valentine, but the Blue Raiders jumped out to a 15-2 lead and never looked back.
- No. 14 Cleveland St over No. 3 Indiana (1986): 83-79. – As a Hoosier fan, this one hurts (but at least I was really young when it happened). Steve Alford scored 24 for IU, but as became all-to-common under Bobby Knight, the Hoosiers took an early round exit. It’s worth reminding nay-sayers that the Hoosiers won the title the following year thanks to Keith Smart….and then again lost in the first round in 1988.
- No. 15 Santa Clara over No. 2 Arizona (1993): 64-61. – This game launched Steve Nash onto the national scene long before he became a 2-time NBA MVP. The Wildcats had lost just 3 times that season and were stocked with talent including Chris Mills, Khalid Reeves, and Damon Stoudamire. It wasn’t enough as the Broncos held on in the final seconds to be the 2nd #15 seed to be a #2 just two years after Richmond first accomplished the feat.
- 15 Richmond over No. 2 Syracuse (1991): 73-69. – This was the first time a #15 won in the First Round since the field expanded to 64 teams. The Orangemen (as they called then) had one the Big East handily, but the Spiders, led Curtis Blair’s 18 points, started off March Madness right.
Other Notable Games:
- Bryce Drew and Valpo knocking off Ole Miss in 1998 with one the greatest game winning shots in college basketball history
- Princeton getting their first NCAA tournament win in 1996 against defending champs UCLA
- 2012 when both Duke and Missouri lost as 2 seeds
And there are many, many more. Maybe this year we’ll get another that makes the list, but even if we don’t, we’ll all get to watch and enjoy!
And if you’re wondering what the heck this has to do with escape rooms. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s just a fun weekend and something to share with friends. Or maybe…..