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March Madness: The Greatest Upsets of the NCAA Tournament

March Madness 80s 90s 2000

March Madness fans are affected by a good upset as much as an expected win.

March Madness is just about over. There have been some surprises in the Men’s Basketball Division I Tournament this year. Many have already lost their bracket selections in their office pools. Well known in U.S. gambling news, we have gone from 64 teams to only 4 left. Let’s take a look at some of the greatest upsets in the history of this illustrious tournament.

The top teams of course normally play the weaker teams in the earlier rounds. Now these teams have proven themselves and are all capable of winning. As punters often find out, often there are teams that somehow through sheer will are able to break through everyone’s expectations and withstand all odds. Before the Final Four happens in Indianapolis, Indiana, we should pay a little homage to those underdogs.

Three games for the Eighties

In 1983, NC State defeated a greatly favored Houston University in the final game. NC State was having an incredible run and it wasn’t a surprise for the Wolfpack to enter the tournament. By the time this team, led by the Legendary Coach Valvano, were called the “Cardiac Pack” by the time they edged the final game 54-52 over indomitable Houston squad that featured future NBA Hall of Fame players Olajuwon and Drexler.

• The NC State Wolfpack defeated Houston in 1983
• NBA star Steve Nash did little to help his Santa Clara team
George Mason University beat the 2nd seeded UConn in 2006

Two years later, the Villanova University Wildcats stepped up as a great underdog team. Villanova had a decent record, but weren’t considered contenders. They won a matchup against University of Michigan who was a number 1 seed. A monster final four win over St. Johns 77-59 shooting 79% from the floor led them to a victory Georgetown University becoming the lowest seeded team to win a final.

The 1986 Louisiana State University was an 11th seeded team had to face the Kentucky Wildcats in the Final Four. The Tigers were down 4 points with less than 6 minutes left in the game. Ricky Blanton scored 8 points which put LSU in the lead. Kentucky gave a last desperation shot from way off to bang the rim, giving LSU the improbable win and “Cinderella team” status to the dismay of punters according to U.S gambling laws.

Two games for the Nineties

Well known NBA point guard Steve Nash just announced his retirement. Back in 1993, Nash was on an unknown Santa Clara University. Not quite the superstar of years later, Nash was a poor shooter and demonstrated this in their tournament game against Arizona. He was however able to sink 6 free throws and his teammate Pete Eisenrich was able to seal the deal with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Arizona lost, but Temple University won the next game. Santa Clara was the 2nd team to advance to the second round as a 15th seed.

The Ivy League is the only division in the NCAA that doesn’t have a division tournament. The team with the best record normally gains entrance into the first round. Few Ivy League teams ever got out of the first round. But in 1996 Princeton defied that with their victory over the UCLA Bruins 43-41. Both teams played so poorly, this contest was more to decide who could play the worst.

Two more games beyond 2000

Hampton University is in Virginia. I knew that because I lived in Virginia. The World didn’t know until 2003 when they were behind perennials Iowa State and got on a 14-point run in the last 8 minutes to lead 58-57 with less than 7 seconds left. Along with Santa Clara, the Hampton Pirates share the prestige of being a 15th seed advancing past the first round as well as the bane of many who partake in online sports betting.

George Mason University lies in the heart of Fairfax, Virginia. Originally an offshoot school of University of Virginia, most outside the Washington D.C. area heard of them. In 2006, the George Mason Patriots made it happen with one of the best tournament runs in NCAA history. The Patriots faced University of Connecticut which was ranked the second in the Nation. Like David facing Goliath, George Mason launched their slingshot in the form of a game winning 3-point shot. They are the ultimate “Cinderella team.”

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