10 biggest March Madness opening-round upsets of all time
No. 13 Cleveland State vs. No. 4 Wake Forest (2009)
The 13th-seeded Cleveland State Vikings didn't just upset No. 4 seed Wake Forest ... they routed them. The Vikings scored the first nine points of the game and never looked back, beating the ACC power 84-69. It was Cleveland State's highest profile win since upsetting Bob Knight's Indiana Hoosiers in the opening round of the 1986 NCAA tournament.
Getty ImagesMarc Serota
No. 13 Princeton vs. No. 4 UCLA (1996)
In 1995, UCLA won its unprecedented 11th national championship and the Bruins were set to make another run in 1996. But the Ivy League champions put up more than just a good fight. The Tigers muddied up the game with the 'Princeton Offense,' yet UCLA still found itself in control, up 41-34 with five minutes left in the game. UCLA would go on a scoring drought, and a last-second layup by Gabe Lewullis with 3.9 seconds left gave Princeton the 43-41 upset win.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
No. 13 Valparaiso vs. No. 4 Mississippi (1998)
Valparaiso captured America's imagination in 1998 when it reached the Sweet 16, but the dream run wouldn't have been if it weren't for the dramatics of Bryce Drew and the epic, game-winning 3-pointer he nailed at the buzzer to upset No. 4 Mississippi 70-69 in the first round. Valparaiso would return to the Big Dance each of the next two seasons, but it was not able to capture the magic of '98 as the Crusaders were blown out in the first round both times.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
No. 15 Norfolk State vs. No. 2 Missouri (2012)
Norfolk State became only the fifth 15-seed in NCAA tournament history to win a game when it defeated second-seeded Missouri in 2012. Missouri entered the game with a 30-5 record, but the Tigers had no answers for the red hot Spartans, who shot 54 percent from the field and the legs out from under many brackets across the country with their 86-84 upset.
USA TODAY SportsPeter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
No. 14 Harvard vs. No. 3 New Mexico (2013)
The Ivy League strikes again on our list as Harvard was one of eight double digit seeds to bust brackets in the upset-filled 2013 NCAA tournament. It was only the second appearance for Harvard in the NCAA tournament since 1946, but that didn't stop the Crimson from dominating the Mountain West Conference champions in route to a 68-62 win. Harvard's most-famous basketball alumni, Los Angeles Lakers guard Jeremy Lin, summed it up best when he tweeted 'YYYYYEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!!' after the game.
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No. 15 Santa Clara vs. No. 2 Arizona (1993)
Santa Clara became just the second 15-seed to win a tournament game when the Broncos upset No. 2 seed Arizona in 1993. Santa Clara was led by an unknown point guard named Steve Nash, who rallied his team in the second half to come from behind after Arizona had gone on a 25-0 run. The Broncos clawed their way back for a 64-61 win and one of the biggest upsets in March Madness history.
No. 14 Bucknell upset No. 3 Kansas (2005)
Bucknell won the Patriot League tournament and earned the right to play in the Big Dance. It was expected that the program would be served up as a piece of meat to Bill Self and the No. 3 seeded Kansas Jayhawks. However, Kansas went 1-11 from behind the 3-point arc, leaving the door open for the Bison to pull off the stunning upset. Bucknell center Chris McNaughton banked in a game-winning hook shot with 10.5 seconds left, giving the Bison their first NCAA tournament victory in the 110-year history of the school.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
No. 15 Richmond vs. No. 2 Syracuse (1991)
Sure, it seems to happen all the time now, but the Richmond Spiders were the first 15-seed to upset a second-seed when they defeated Jim Boeheim and Syracuse. The Spiders knocked off the Orange 73-69, becoming the original bracket buster and paving the way for the 'little guys' to pull off major upsets for years to come.
Doug Mills / AP Photo
No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 2 Georgetown (2013)
Georgetown entered the game with five Final Four appearances in school history. Florida Gulf Coast entered the game as a program only in its second year as a Division I school. It was David vs. Goliath in every sense of the term. When Chase Fieler put the game away late with a thunderous slam, the nickname 'Dunk City' was adopted as America fell in love with the 15th-seeded Eagles after their epic 78-68 win over the Hoyas.
Getty ImagesHoward Smith
No. 15 Lehigh vs. No. 2 Duke (2012)
In 2012, two No. 15 seeds advanced past the first round. While Norfolk State’s win over Missouri was impressive, it wasn't little Lehigh of the Patriot League taking down the mighty Duke Blue Devils. And what was most surprising, Lehigh dominated the entire game. At the end, the scoreboard read 75-70 in Lehigh’s favor, earning the Hawks their first tournament win. One of the greatest opening-round upsets in NCAA tournament history was in the books. It had been fifteen years since a 15th-seeded team had advanced in the tournament, and Norfolk State and Lehigh did it within minutes of each other.