First-Round Upsets: 9 Biggest in NCAA Tourney History
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9 Biggest First-Round Upsets in NCAA Tournament History

by: Joseph On  Friday, March 20, 2015

NCAA-Tournaments-Biggest-First-Round-Upsets-Valparaiso-Over-Mississippi

One of the best things about sports is that any individual or team can beat any other individual or team if they play hard and get a lucky bounce or two. That’s what makes the NCAA Tournament so great. With all the little guys matched up against the big guys, you’re pretty much guaranteed some first-round upsets every single year. Which is obviously fantastic, provided you’re not losing your office pool to the guy in HR who doesn’t follow basketball and made all his picks based on team names.

Of course, not all first-round upsets are created equal. Some are bigger and more shocking than others. And today, we’re going to take you through the biggest and most shocking first-round upsets in March Madness history.

So come on in and take a look. You’re not really working anyway.

Biggest First-Round Upsets in NCAA Tournament History

NCAA-Tournaments-Biggest-First-Round-Upsets-Valparaiso-Over-Mississippi

One of the best things about sports is that any individual or team can beat any other individual or team if they play hard and get a lucky bounce or two. That’s what makes the NCAA Tournament so great. With all the little guys matched up against the big guys, you’re pretty much guaranteed some first-round upsets every single year. Which is obviously fantastic, provided you’re not losing your office pool to the guy in HR who doesn’t follow basketball and made all his picks based on team names.

Of course, not all first-round upsets are created equal. Some are bigger and more shocking than others. And today, we’re going to take you through the biggest and most shocking first-round upsets in March Madness history.

So come on in and take a look. You’re not really working anyway.

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Indiana State Over Oklahoma

The 13th-seeded Indiana State was losing to Oklahoma by double-digit figures when they launched an impressive late game comeback. A lot of the credit belongs to Indiana State’s Matt Renn, who scored 22 points all on his own.

2001: Indiana State Over Oklahoma

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Indiana State Over Oklahoma

The 13th-seeded Indiana State was losing to Oklahoma by double-digit figures when they launched an impressive late game comeback. A lot of the credit belongs to Indiana State’s Matt Renn, who scored 22 points all on his own.

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets: Harvard Over New Mexico

Not only did no one expect Harvard to beat the University of New Mexico in the 2013 NCAA tournament, but no one really expected Harvard to beat anyone ever, since this was the first tournament victory in the school’s history.

2013: Harvard Over New Mexico

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets: Harvard Over New Mexico

Not only did no one expect Harvard to beat the University of New Mexico in the 2013 NCAA tournament, but no one really expected Harvard to beat anyone ever, since this was the first tournament victory in the school’s history.

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Richmond Over South Carolina

South Carolina was coming off of a first-round loss in the previous year’s tournament, but that didn’t make it much less shocking when 14th-seeded Richmond pulled off a one-point victory over 3rd-seeded South Carolina the following year.

1998: Richmond Over South Carolina

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Richmond Over South Carolina

South Carolina was coming off of a first-round loss in the previous year’s tournament, but that didn’t make it much less shocking when 14th-seeded Richmond pulled off a one-point victory over 3rd-seeded South Carolina the following year.

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Valparaiso Over Mississippi

If 13th-seeded Valparaiso’s 1988 first-round NCAA tournament victory over Mississippi had been any closer, it would have been a tie. It happened with seconds to go in the game thanks to a right-wing swish from Bryce Drew (seen in the photo above, he’s the one on the ground).

1988: Valparaiso Over Mississippi

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Valparaiso Over Mississippi

If 13th-seeded Valparaiso’s 1988 first-round NCAA tournament victory over Mississippi had been any closer, it would have been a tie. It happened with seconds to go in the game thanks to a right-wing swish from Bryce Drew (seen in the photo above, he’s the one on the ground).

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Santa Clara Over Arizona

When number 15 Santa Clara squeaked by number 2 Arizona with just two points to spare back in 1993, it was even more shocking than it would otherwise be since it was only the second time a 15th-seed team would win a first-round game in the tournament’s history.

1993: Santa Clara Over Arizona

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Santa Clara Over Arizona

When number 15 Santa Clara squeaked by number 2 Arizona with just two points to spare back in 1993, it was even more shocking than it would otherwise be since it was only the second time a 15th-seed team would win a first-round game in the tournament’s history.

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - East Tennessee State Over Arizona

The previous year also had Arizona suffering an all-time great upset. This one was a 87-80 loss over East Tennessee State, which the presence of a total of three NBA draft picks on the team couldn’t prevent.

1992: East Tennessee State Over Arizona

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - East Tennessee State Over Arizona

The previous year also had Arizona suffering an all-time great upset. This one was a 87-80 loss over East Tennessee State, which the presence of a total of three NBA draft picks on the team couldn’t prevent.

Back in 1988, Richmond pulled of a truly impressive feat when they became only the second team to beat a returning champion in the first round of the NCAA tourney. This time, it was Indiana, who lost to Richmond 72-69.

1988: Richmond Over Indiana

Back in 1988, Richmond pulled of a truly impressive feat when they became only the second team to beat a returning champion in the first round of the NCAA tourney. This time, it was Indiana, who lost to Richmond 72-69.

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Norfolk State Over Missouri

After Norfolk State’s down-to-the-wire two-point upset over 21-point favorite Missouri, Kyle O’Quinn of Norfolk is reported to have shouted, “We messed up some brackets! We messed up some brackets!” Truer words were never spoken. 

2012: Norfolk State Over Missouri

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Norfolk State Over Missouri

After Norfolk State’s down-to-the-wire two-point upset over 21-point favorite Missouri, Kyle O’Quinn of Norfolk is reported to have shouted, “We messed up some brackets! We messed up some brackets!” Truer words were never spoken. 

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Georgia State Over Baylor

The 2015 NCAA tourney just started, but we’ve already had a first-round upset for the proverbial time capsule. 14th-seeded Georgia State came out on top over 3rd-seeded Baylor with a one-point victory after a 3-pointer by Georgia State’s RJ Hunter in the last 2.7 seconds of the game. Upsets don’t get much bigger than that.

2015: Georgia State Over Baylor

NCAA Tournament's Biggest First-Round Upsets - Georgia State Over Baylor

The 2015 NCAA tourney just started, but we’ve already had a first-round upset for the proverbial time capsule. 14th-seeded Georgia State came out on top over 3rd-seeded Baylor with a one-point victory after a 3-pointer by Georgia State’s RJ Hunter in the last 2.7 seconds of the game. Upsets don’t get much bigger than that.



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