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March M(AD)ness! 5 Greatest NCAA Tournament Upsets.

March M(AD)ness! 5 Greatest NCAA Tournament Upsets.

What makes March Madness MAD are the upsets!

Every year, teams from smaller conferences or with lower seedings defy the odds and make a deep run in the tournament, etching their names in college basketball lore.

5 of the greatest underdog victories in NCAA tournament history.

NC State’s Miracle Run (1983)

The 1983 NCAA tournament is remembered for one of the most improbable championship runs in college basketball history. Led by head coach Jim Valvano, the NC State Wolfpack entered the tournament as a #6 seed.

Their journey to the title game included several close victories, but none more memorable than their matchup against the #1 seeded Houston Cougars in the final.

Houston, featuring future NBA stars Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, was heavily favored to win. However, NC State, led by Dereck Whittenburg and Lorenzo Charles, executed a perfect game plan.

With seconds remaining, and the score tied, Whittenburg launched a desperation shot that fell short. Charles caught the ball in mid-air and dunked it as time expired, giving NC State a stunning 54-52 victory and their second national championship.

Villanova’s Perfect Game (1985)

The 1985 Villanova Wildcats were a #8 seed entering the NCAA tournament, facing a daunting task against the defending champion Georgetown Hoyas in the championship game. Led by head coach Rollie Massimino, Villanova delivered a near-perfect performance, shooting an incredible 78.6% from the field.

George Mason’s Cinderella Run (2006)

Despite the dominance of Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, Villanova played flawless basketball, committing just one turnover in the entire game. The Wildcats pulled off a remarkable 66-64 upset, becoming the lowest-seeded team to win the NCAA championship.

George Mason’s Cinderella Run (2006)

In 2006, the George Mason Patriots captivated the nation with their improbable run to the Final Four.

As an #11 seed, George Mason became the first team from a mid-major conference to reach the Final Four since 1979.

Led by coach Jim Larranaga and stars like Jai Lewis and Lamar Butler, George Mason defeated traditional powerhouses like Michigan State, North Carolina, and Connecticut en route to the Final Four.

Their magical run ended with a loss to eventual champion Florida, but their journey remains one of the most inspiring in NCAA tournament history.

UMBC’s Historic Upset (2018)

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Retrievers made history in 2018 by becoming the first #16 seed to defeat a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Facing off against the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers, who were considered one of the strongest teams in the tournament, UMBC delivered a stunning performance.

Led by Jairus Lyles, who scored 28 points, the Retrievers dominated Virginia en route to a 74-54 victory. The win sent shockwaves through the college basketball world and solidified UMBC’s place in NCAA tournament lore as the ultimate underdog.

Villanova’s Buzzer-Beater (2016)

Villanova players celebrate after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game against North Carolina, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. Villanova won 77-74.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

In the 2016 NCAA championship game, the Villanova Wildcats found themselves in a tight battle against the North Carolina Tar Heels. With the game tied at 74 and just seconds remaining, Villanova’s Kris Jenkins received a pass from Ryan Arcidiacono and nailed a three-pointer as time expired, giving Villanova a thrilling 77-74 victory.

The shot by Jenkins will be forever remembered as one of the greatest moments in NCAA tournament history, capping off a remarkable tournament run for the Wildcats as a #2 seed.

These underdog victories serve as a reminder of the magic and unpredictability of March Madness. They showcase the resilience, determination, and heart of teams that refuse to back down in the face of adversity, capturing the hearts of basketball fans everywhere and solidifying their place in NCAA tournament history.

Take the quiz to reveal your discount offer!


1 / 5

Which team’s Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2006 included victories over Michigan State, North Carolina, and Connecticut?

2 / 5

Which team won the 2016 NCAA championship with a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Kris Jenkins?

3 / 5

Which team’s miraculous victory in 1983 was capped off by a last-second dunk by Lorenzo Charles?

4 / 5

Which team made history in 2018 by becoming the first #16 seed to defeat a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament?

5 / 5

Which team delivered a near-perfect performance by shooting 78.6% from the field in the 1985 NCAA championship game?

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