NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament upsets

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An upset is a victory by an underdog team. In the context of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, a single-elimination tournament, this generally constitutes a lower seeded team defeating a higher-seeded (i.e., higher-ranked) team; a widely recognized upset is one performed by a team ranked substantially lower than its opponent.

This is the list of victories by teams seeded 11 or lower in the tournament since it expanded to 64 teams in 1985; as these low-seeded teams were automatically paired against higher-seeded teams at the start of the tournament, their opening victories are almost always considered upsets (to date only one 11th or lower seeded team in the first round won having been the betting "favorite"; this occurred in 2017 when twelfth seeded Middle Tennessee defeated fifth seeded Minnesota in the Round of 64). Most victories by these teams in later rounds were usually against better seeded opponents as well.

On March 16, 2018, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Retrievers became the first 16-seed to upset a 1-seed when they defeated the Virginia Cavaliers 74–54 in the first round.[1]

Round of 64[edit]

This round was called the First Round until 2011, when the introduction of the First Four caused the round to be renamed the Second Round. Starting with the 2016 tournament, it returned to being called the First Round. There were ten wins by double-digit seeds in 2016, which was the most in tournament history. In 2001 and 2012, there were nine upsets during First Round play.[2]

16 vs. 1[edit]

Before 2018, 16-seeded teams were 0-135 against 1-seeds. There were multiple occurrences of a 16-seed getting within single digits, with the most recent being Weber State losing to top-seeded Arizona 68-59 in 2014. Twice had a 16-seeded team come within one point of winning, both times in 1989. Top seeded Georgetown squeaked out a 50-49 win against Princeton, and East Tennessee State had a 17-point lead on Oklahoma, before the Sooners came back and won 72-71. The only time a 16 has ever taken a 1-seed into overtime came in 1990, when Murray State ultimately lost to Michigan State 75-71 after an extra period.[3]

There has only been one game where a 16-seed beat a 1-seed (0.74%) since 1985, out of 136 games played:

Year Winner Loser Score
2018 UMBC Virginia 74–54

15 vs. 2[edit]

There have been eight 15-seeds that have defeated 2 seeds (5.88%) in the first round:[4]

Year Winner Loser Score
2016 Middle Tennessee Michigan State 90–81
2013 Florida Gulf Coast Georgetown 78–68
2012 Lehigh Duke 75–70
Norfolk State Missouri 86–84
2001 Hampton Iowa State 58–57
1997 Coppin State South Carolina 78–65
1993 Santa Clara Arizona 64–61
1991 Richmond Syracuse 73–69

14 vs. 3[edit]

There have been twenty-one 14-seeds that have defeated 3 seeds (15.44%) in the first round:

Year Winner Loser Score
2016 Stephen F. Austin West Virginia 70–56
2015 Georgia State Baylor 57–56
UAB Iowa State 60–59
2014 Mercer Duke 78–71
2013 Harvard New Mexico 68–62
2010 Ohio Georgetown 97–83
2006 Northwestern State Iowa 64–63
2005 Bucknell Kansas 64–63
1999 Weber State North Carolina 76–74
1998 Richmond South Carolina 62–61
1997 Chattanooga Georgia 73–70
1995 Old Dominion Villanova 89–81 (3 OT)
Weber State Michigan State 79–72
1992 East Tennessee State Arizona 87–80
1991 Xavier Nebraska 89–84
1990 Northern Iowa Missouri 74–71
1989 Siena Stanford 80–78
1988 Murray State NC State 78–75
1987 Austin Peay Illinois 68–67
1986 Cleveland State Indiana 83–79
Arkansas–Little Rock Notre Dame 90–83

13 vs. 4[edit]

There have been twenty-eight 13-seeds to defeat 4 seeds (20.59%) in the first round:

Year Winner Loser Score
2018 Marshall Wichita State 81–75
Buffalo Arizona 89–68
2016 Hawaii California 77–66
2013 La Salle Kansas State 63–61
2012 Ohio Michigan 65–60
2011 Morehead State Louisville 62–61
2010 Murray State Vanderbilt 66–65
2009 Cleveland State Wake Forest 84–69
2008 Siena Vanderbilt 83–62
San Diego Connecticut 70–69 (OT)
2006 Bradley Kansas 77–73
2005 Vermont Syracuse 60–57 (OT)
2003 Tulsa Dayton 84–71
2002 UNC Wilmington USC 93–89 (OT)
2001 Kent State Indiana 77–73
Indiana State Oklahoma 70–68 (OT)
1999 Oklahoma Arizona 61–60
1998 Valparaiso Ole Miss 70–69
1996 Princeton UCLA 43–41
1995 Manhattan Oklahoma 77–67
1993 Southern Georgia Tech 93–78
1992 Southwestern Louisiana Oklahoma 87–83
1991 Penn State UCLA 74–69
1989 Middle Tennessee Florida State 97–83
1988 Richmond Indiana 72–69
1987 Xavier Missouri 70–69
Missouri State Clemson 65–60
1985 Navy LSU 78–55

12 vs. 5[edit]

There have been forty-seven 12-seeds to defeat 5 seeds (34.56%) in the first round:

Year Winner Loser Score
2017 Middle Tennessee[a] Minnesota 81–72
2016 Little Rock Purdue 85–83 (2 OT)
Yale Baylor 79–75
2014 Stephen F. Austin VCU 77–75 (OT)
North Dakota State Oklahoma 80–75 (OT)
Harvard Cincinnati 61–57
2013 Ole Miss Wisconsin 57–46
California UNLV 64–61
Oregon Oklahoma State 68–55
2012 South Florida Temple 58–44
VCU Wichita State 62–59
2011 Richmond Vanderbilt 69–66
2010 Cornell Temple 78–65
2009 Wisconsin Florida State 61–59 (OT)
Arizona Utah 84–71
Western Kentucky Illinois 76–72
2008 Villanova Clemson 75–69
Western Kentucky Drake 101–99 (OT)
2006 Montana Nevada 87–79
Texas A&M Syracuse 66–58
2005 Milwaukee Alabama 83–73
2004 Manhattan Florida 75–60
Pacific Providence 66–58
2003 Butler Mississippi State 47–46
2002 Creighton Florida 83–82 (2 OT)
Tulsa Marquette 71–69
Missouri Miami (Florida) 93–80
2001 Gonzaga Virginia 86–85
Utah State Ohio State 77–68 (OT)
1999 Missouri State Wisconsin 43–32
Detroit UCLA 56–53
1998 Florida State TCU 96–87
1997 College of Charleston Maryland 75–66
1996 Drexel Memphis 75–63
Arkansas Penn State 86–80
1995 Miami (Ohio) Arizona 71–62
1994 Wisconsin–Green Bay California 61–57
Tulsa UCLA 112–102
1993 George Washington New Mexico 82–68
1992 New Mexico State DePaul 81–73
1991 Eastern Michigan Mississippi State 76–56
1990 Dayton Illinois 88–86
Ball State Oregon State 54–53
1989 DePaul Memphis State 66–63
1987 Wyoming Virginia 64–60
1986 DePaul Virginia 72–68
1985 Kentucky Washington 66–58

11 vs. 6[edit]

There have been fifty-one 11-seeds that have defeated 6 seeds (37.5%) in the first round:

Year Winner Loser Score
2018 Loyola-Chicago Miami (FL) 64–62
Syracuse TCU 57–52
2017 Rhode Island Creighton 84–72
USC SMU 66–65
Xavier Maryland 76–65
2016 Northern Iowa Texas 75–72
Gonzaga Seton Hall 68–52
Wichita State Arizona 65–55
2015 Dayton Providence 66–53
UCLA SMU 60–59
2014 Tennessee Massachusetts 86–67
Dayton Ohio State 60–59
2013 Minnesota UCLA 83–63
2012 Colorado UNLV 68–64
North Carolina State San Diego State 79–65
2011 Marquette Xavier 66–55
VCU Georgetown 74–56
Gonzaga St. John's 86–71
2010 Washington Marquette 80–78
Old Dominion Notre Dame 51–50
2009 Dayton West Virginia 68–62
2008 Kansas State Southern California 80–67
2007 Winthrop Notre Dame 76–64
VCU Duke 79–77
2006 Milwaukee Oklahoma 82–74
George Mason Michigan State 75–65
2005 UAB LSU 82–68
2003 Central Michigan Creighton 79–73
2002 Wyoming Gonzaga 73–68
Southern Illinois Texas Tech 76–68
2001 Georgia State Wisconsin 50–49
Temple Texas 79–65
2000 Pepperdine Indiana 77–57
1998 Washington Xavier 69–68
Western Michigan Clemson 75–72
1996 Boston College Indiana 64–51
1995 Texas Oregon 90–73
1994 Pennsylvania Nebraska 90–80
1993 Tulane Kansas State 55–53
1991 Creighton New Mexico State 64–56
Connecticut LSU 79–62
1990 Loyola Marymount New Mexico State 111–92
1989 Minnesota Kansas State 86–75
Evansville Oregon State 94–90 (OT)
South Alabama Alabama 86–84
Texas Georgia Tech 76–70
1988 Rhode Island Missouri 87–80
1986 LSU Purdue 94–87 (OT)
1985 Boston College Texas Tech 55–53
UTEP Tulsa 79–75
Auburn Purdue 59–58

Round of 32[edit]

This round was called the Second Round until 2011, when the introduction of the First Four caused this round to be renamed the Third Round. Starting with the 2016 tournament, it returned to being called the Second Round.

16 seeds[edit]

No 16-seed has ever won a second round game. The only 16-seed to ever play in a Second Round game was in 2018 by the UMBC Retrievers, in which they lost to Kansas State 50-43.

15 seeds[edit]

There has only been one 15-seed that won its second-round game.

Year Winner Loser Score
2013 Florida Gulf Coast (7) San Diego State 81–71

14 seeds[edit]

There have been two 14-seeds to win their second-round games. Both were against 6 seeds.

Year Winner Loser Score
1997 Chattanooga (6) Illinois 75–63
1986 Cleveland State (6) St. Joseph's 75–69

13 seeds[edit]

There have been six 13 seeds to win their second-round games. Seeds of the losing teams are in parentheses.

Year Winner Loser Score
2013 La Salle (12) Mississippi 76–74
2012 Ohio (12) South Florida 62–56
2006 Bradley (5) Pittsburgh 72–66
1999 Oklahoma (5) Charlotte 85–72
1998 Valparaiso (12) Florida State 83–77 (OT)
1988 Richmond (5) Georgia Tech 59–55

12 seeds[edit]

There have been twenty 12 seeds to win their second-round games. Seeds of the losing teams are in parentheses.

Year Winner Loser Score
2013 Oregon (4) Saint Louis 74–57
2011 Richmond (13) Morehead State 65–48
2010 Cornell (4) Wisconsin 87–69
2009 Arizona (13) Cleveland State 71–57
2008 Western Kentucky (13) San Diego 72–63
Villanova (13) Siena 84–72
2005 Milwaukee (4) Boston College 83–75
2003 Butler (4) Louisville 79–71
2002 Missouri (4) Ohio State 83–64
2001 Gonzaga (13) Indiana State 85–68
1999 Missouri State (4) Tennessee 81–51
1996 Arkansas (4) Marquette 65–56
1994 Tulsa (4) Oklahoma State 82–80
1993 George Washington (13) Southern 90–80
1992 New Mexico State (13) Southwestern Louisiana 81–73
1991 Eastern Michigan (13) Penn State 71–68 (OT)
1990 Ball State (4) Louisville 62–60
1987 Wyoming (4) UCLA 78–68
1986 DePaul (4) Oklahoma 74–69
1985 Kentucky (4) UNLV 64–61

Not an upset strictly according to seeding, as the victory was against a lower-seeded opponent

11 seeds[edit]

There have been twenty-two 11 seeds to win their second-round games and advance to the Sweet 16. Seeds of the losing teams are in parentheses.

Year Winner Loser Score
2018 Loyola Chicago (3) Tennessee 63–62
Syracuse (3) Michigan State 55–53
2017 Xavier (3) Florida St. 91–66
2016 Gonzaga (3) Utah 82–59
2015 UCLA (14) UAB 92–75
2014 Tennessee (14) Mercer 83–63
Dayton (3) Syracuse 55–53
2012 NC State (3) Georgetown 66–63
2011 Marquette (3) Syracuse 66–62
VCU (3) Purdue 94–76
2010 Washington (3) New Mexico 82–64
2006 George Mason (3) North Carolina 65–60
2002 Southern Illinois (3) Georgia 77–75
2001 Temple (3) Florida 75–54
1998 Washington (14) Richmond 81–66
1991 Connecticut (14) Xavier 66–50
1990 Loyola Marymount (3) Michigan 149–115
1989 Minnesota (14) Siena 80–67
1988 Rhode Island (3) Syracuse 97–94
1986 LSU (3) Memphis 83–81
1985 Auburn (3) Kansas 66–64
Boston College (3) Duke 74–73

Not an upset strictly according to seeding, as the victory was against a lower-seeded opponent

Sweet Sixteen[edit]

12 seeds[edit]

There has been only one 12 seed to ever win a Sweet 16 game.

Year Winner Loser Score
2002 Missouri (8) UCLA 82–73

11 seeds[edit]

There have been eight 11 seeds to win in the Sweet Sixteen and advance to the Elite Eight.

Year Winner Loser Score
2018 Loyola Chicago (7) Nevada 69–68
2017 Xavier (2) Arizona 73–71
2014 Dayton (10) Stanford 82–72
2011 VCU (10) Florida State 72–71 (OT)
2006 George Mason (7) Wichita State 63–55
2001 Temple (7) Penn State 84–72
1990 Loyola Marymount (7) Alabama 62–60
1986 LSU (2) Georgia Tech 70–64

Elite Eight[edit]

11 seeds[edit]

There have been four 11 seeds to win in the Elite Eight and advance to the Final Four. However, all these teams did not advance any further, losing their national semifinal matchups.

Year Winner Loser Score
2018 Loyola Chicago (9) Kansas State 78–62
2011 VCU (1) Kansas 71–61
2006 George Mason (1) Connecticut 86–84 (OT)
1986 LSU (1) Kentucky 59–57

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Entered the game as the betting favorite in Las Vegas sports books.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wilco, Daniel (March 17, 2018). "Last perfect bracket busts after UMBC pulls off biggest upset in NCAA tournament history". NCAA.com. National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved March 18, 2018. UMBC (The University of Maryland Baltimore County) scored the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA tournament, beating top overall seed Virginia 74-54 Friday night, and becoming the first 16 seed to win a game in 136 tries. 
  2. ^ "NCAA tourney upsets match first-round record". ESPN.com. March 19, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2018. 
  3. ^ https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/03/15/has-16-seed-upset-1-seed-march-madness-tournament-history
  4. ^ Herwitt, Josh. "Top 10 Upsets of the NCAA Tournament". Fox Sports. 
  5. ^ Temple, Jesse (March 17, 2017). "Middle Tennessee's win over Minnesota an 'upset'? Not so fast". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 18, 2017.