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Men’s NCAA Tournament Upsets

The 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is finally here. 68 of the best teams in the country will fight for the right to call themselves National Champions. The first weekend of the tournament is known for some exciting action.

From the usual blowouts by title favorites, the close calls by high seeds and then the lower seed defeating the high seed. In today’s list, I will give you the top 4 lower seed upsets in the first weekend. It’s about to get historical for March Madness.

#4 2012 – (2) Missouri vs (15) Norfolk State

We start this history lesson with a trip back to 2012. Barack Obama was voted into his 2nd term as president, “Gangnam Style” was the most-viewed video on YouTube, and we lost one of the greatest musical acts of all time in Whitney Houston. We also had an interesting first round of the NCAA Tournament with two lower seeds upsetting the higher seeds. The first matchup features the Big 12 Champion Missouri Tigers vs the MEAC Champion Norfolk State Spartans.

The game went back and forth, and it was 81-81 at one point in the 2nd half. Kyle O’ Quinn, who scored 26 points in the game, converted on an and-one for the Spartans to take the lead for good. Missouri’s Phil Pressey missed a game-winning three as time expired for Norfolk State to pull off the upset. The next season, Missouri would move into the Southeastern Conference and lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to (8) Colorado State.

#3 (2) Georgetown vs (15) Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast University was the talk of the 2013 NCAA Tournament thanks to their high pace, and the “Dunk City” tagline. In 2013, the Eagles were in their second season of Division I basketball and won the Atlantic Sun Tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Their prize, a first-round matchup vs the 2-seeded Georgetown Hoyas, winners of the Big East Conference and had a Top-3 NBA Draft prospect in Otto Porter Jr. What followed was one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history.

The contest was tied at 31 at one point in the second half until Florida Gulf Coast took control. Three-pointers, highlight dunks, and alley-oops were on the menu as the Eagles went on a 21-2 run to come out on top 78-68 over Georgetown. This was the start of a magical run for FGCU as they advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to Florida.

#2 2016 (2) Michigan State vs (15) Middle Tennessee State

In 2016, the Michigan State Spartans were one of the best teams in college basketball. Ranked as high as #1 in the polls, Michigan State won nine straight games, including winning the Big Ten Tournament, and just missed out on a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, being a #2 seed made a lot of difference against a hungry Middle Tennessee State squad.

The best thing about this game is that the Blue Raiders started the game on a 15-2 run and never once trailed in the game. There were times that MSU fought back to be within one point but Middle Tennessee never let up. In the end, the Blue Raiders pulled off the upset 90-81 in one of the biggest tournament upsets to this day but it is not the biggest one.

#1 2018 – (1) Virginia vs (16) UMBC

Now, we bring you to arguably the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history. Before this game, the 16th seed was winless against the no. 1 seed (0-142). UMBC had to win their conference tournament while Virginia were not only the #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament but at the time, they were ranked #1 in the country in the polls. The matchup was a true David vs Goliath story here and it ended up being one of the greatest moments in NCAA Tournament history.

On a Friday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, the University of Maryland – Baltimore County went into this game not even knowing they would make history. 40 minutes later, the Retrievers put a whooping on Virginia 74-54 and became the media darlings and etched their names in the history books. Don’t worry, Virginia would use this upset loss as motivation as the following year, they would go on to win the National Championship, so it was not all bad for the Cavaliers.

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