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Best opening-round upsets in March Madness history

Bracket: Busted

(Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports)
(Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports)

March Madness thrives on upsets.

Buzzer-beaters, unsung heroes, the unexpected outcomes throughout NCAA tournament history are just as iconic (if not more) than the teams that go on to win the championship game.

The David vs. Goliath stories and early round unknowns always add to the fans’ overall anticipation, too, and few outcomes have been more shocking/memorable/maddening than these upsets …

2023: No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson over No. 1 Purdue

(Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports)
(Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports)

Tipping off the list with the most recent (and shocking) upset. Fairleigh Dickinson topped tourney favorite Purdue 63-58 last season, marking only the second time in history that a 16 sent a top seed home after the first round.

2023: No. 15 Princeton over No. 2 Arizona

(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2023 first round wasn’t done adding to the upset list, with Princeton handing Arizona its second opening-round loss in tourney history (more on that in a bit). It wasn’t the most exciting game, with each team struggling to score. In the end, the Wildcats went dormant for nearly the final five minutes of the game, and the Tigers pulled off the 59-55 win.

2022: No. 15 Saint Peter's over No. 2 Kentucky

(Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports)
(Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports)

The Peacocks put on a three-point clinic back in 2022, nailing over 52% of their shots from downtown on the way to a shocker over Kentucky 85-79.

2021: No. 15 Oral Roberts over No. 2 Ohio State

(USA TODAY Network)
(USA TODAY Network)

An overtime thriller made all the more memorable because of the pandemic restrictions—i.e., very few in the stands. Oral Roberts provided a feel-good story in 2021, being with the upset over the Buckeyes 75-72.

2018: No. 16 UMBC over No. 1 Virginia

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)

Wahoo … what?

In 2018, UMBC became the first No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The Retrievers stymied the Cavaliers 74-54.

2016: No. 15 Middle Tennessee St. over No. 2 Michigan State

(Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Yep, even NCAA tournament icon Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans have felt the pain of an opening-round loss. In 2016, MTSU knocked down over 50% of their three-point shots to rattle the Spartans on the way to a 90-81 upset.

2013: No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast over No. 2 Georgetown

(Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)
(Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Dunks! Dunks! Dunks!

FGCU brought “Dunk City” to the 2013 tourney, which was on full display during the 78-68 opening round upset of Georgetown

2012: No. 15 Lehigh over No. 2 Duke

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

With C.J. McCollum leading the way, the Mountain Hawks shocked Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils back in 2012, taking out the perennial NCAA tourney team 75-70.

2012: No. 15 Norfolk State over No. 2 Missouri

(Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)
(Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2012 tournament was primed for 15-2 upsets, with Kyle O’Quinn and Norfolk State taking out title contender Missouri 86-84.

2001: No. 15 Hampton Pirates over No. 2 Iowa State Cyclones

(Brian Bahr /Allsport)
(Brian Bahr /Allsport)

The 2001 NCAA West Regional in Boise (Idaho) was the setting for one of the greatest March Madness games in tourney history. Just a few years into being a Divison 1 program, the Pirates were the focus of an epic comeback that was sealed by a Tarvis Williams jumper with 6.9 seconds left, giving the team a 58-57 win over the Cyclones.

1997: No. 15 Coppin State over No. 2 South Carolina

(GETTY)
(GETTY)

For only the third time in NCA tournament history—up to that point—a No. 15 bounced a No. 2 seed in the opening round. The Eagles had never won a tourney game before, but March Madness was in store on that March 14 night in Pittsburgh. And it wasn’t really a close game, with Danny Singletary and Coppin State defeating the Gamecocks 78-65.

1993: No. 15 Santa Clara over No. 2 Arizona

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Allsport/Getty Images)
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Allsport/Getty Images)

The night Steve Nash and Santa Clara shocked the Wildcats, Chris Mills, Ray Owes, and Damon Stoudamire weren’t enough star power to overcome an off night, and the Broncos pulled off the 64-61 upset.

 

1991: No. 15 Richmond over No. 2 Syracuse

(Photo by Rick Stewart/Allsport/Getty Images))
(Photo by Rick Stewart/Allsport/Getty Images))

What most know as “March Madness” begins with the Spiders’ 73-69 win over the Orange.

Richmond’s upset of Syracuse was the first time since the tournament was expanded to 64 teams that a No. 15 seed beat a No. 2 seed.

Story originally appeared on List Wire