NCAA tournament: Can South Dakota State be the next 15 seed to win?

Mar. 18—BROOKINGS — South Dakota State's draw as a 15-seed in the NCAA tournament is new territory for them. In their first six trips to the Big Dance the Jackrabbits have been either a 12, 13, 14 or 16 seed. Each appearance ended with a first-round loss.

Could this year be different? While the odds are certainly not in their favor (2nd-seeded Iowa State opened as a 16.5-point favorite), the 2/15 matchup has been responsible for some of the most memorable upsets in tournament history, with some of the sport's biggest names going down.

The 15-seed has an 11-141 all-time tournament record against the 2-seed, but as college basketball rosters have become more volatile over the years, major upsets involving the highest seeds have become more prevalent than ever, with Maryland-Baltimore County becoming the first No. 16 to win in 2018 and Fairleigh Dickinson becoming the second last year.

If a 15-seed does manage to survive the first round, they then have a far more favorable matchup in the second round, facing either a 7-seed or 10-seed. As such, a 15-seed has now reached the Sweet 16 in each of the last three seasons. SDSU will hope to continue that streak starting Thursday.

Here's a look at the 11 No. 15 seeds that beat the odds to advance in the tournament.

1991: Richmond

The Spiders were the first to knock off a 2-seed when they beat Syracuse 73-69. Richmond had finished second in the CAA regular season standings but won the conference tournament to punch their ticket. Following their upset win the Spiders were defeated by 10th-seeded Temple, as the Owls ended up reaching the Elite Eight.

1993: Santa Clara

Behind a freshman guard named Steve Nash, the Broncos stunned the Arizona Wildcats to become the second 15-seed ever and second in three years to win a tournament game. That Wildcat team was led by NBA-bound guards Damon Stoudamire and Khalid Reeves and big man Chris Mills. Nash, of course, would go on to become a Hall of Fame point guard in the NBA.

And for the second time in three years, Temple was the beneficiary of a 2-seed going down, as the 7th-seeded Owls knocked off the Broncos in the second round.

1997: Coppin State

Led by coach Ronald "Fang" Mitchell, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champs put together one of the most impressive Cinderella runs in the tournament to that point. They not only became the third 15-seed to win, but the first to win by double-digits, as they cruised past SEC champ South Carolina 78-65. The Eagles then narrowly missed out on becoming the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16, falling 82-81 to Texas in the second round.

2001: Hampton

The fourth 2-seed to lose in the first round? None other than Iowa State.

Led by future 1st round draft pick Jamaal Tinsley, the Cyclones narrowly won the Big 12 that year over Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, but their high hopes came crashing down at the hands of the Pirates.

Another MEAC champion, Hampton beat ISU 58-57, winning on Tarvis Williams' baby-hook in the lane with 6.8 seconds left, and a Tinsley coast-to-coast at the other end just rolled out, sending the Pirates into the second round, where they lost to Georgetown.

2012: Lehigh and Norfolk State

It would be more than a decade before another 2-seed would go down, and then two of them fell on the same day in 2012.

Lehigh knocked off mighty Duke, while Norfolk State edged Missouri in the Tigers' final season in the Big 12.

Norfolk's win came first, as they edged a 30-win Missouri team 86-84 behind big man Kyle O'Quinn's 26 points. The Spartans lost to Florida in the second round.

Then came Lehigh, with the Patriot League champion Mountain Hawks knocking off Coach K's team behind 30 points from Patriot League player of the year and future No. 1 draft pick CJ McCollum. They lost to Xavier in the second round.

2013: Florida Gulf Coast

The year that "Dunk City" was born, the Eagles became the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16, as they stunned Georgetown 78-68 in the first round, then defeated San Diego State 81-71 in the second round. The glass slipper finally fell off with a 62-50 loss to Florida in the next round, and FGCU coach Andy Enfield was hired to coach Southern Cal soon after.

2016: Middle Tennessee

Another blue blood goes down, as the Blue Raiders shocked Tom Izzo and Michigan State 90-81. Sparty was coming off a Final Four appearance the previous year and looking to get back into championship contention, but their bid for a 30th win on the season was spoiled by the C-USA champs.

The Blue Raiders lost in the 2nd round to Syracuse.

2021: Oral Roberts

The Summit League got in on the Cinderella action in 2021, the year March Madness returned after the previous year's tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Oral Roberts was a mere 13-10 entering the postseason, but they beat top-seeded South Dakota State on a buzzer beater in the finals of the Summit League tournament in an empty Sanford Pentagon to earn a 15-seed in the Dance.

Once there, the Max Abmas-led Golden Eagles stunned Ohio State 75-72 in overtime, then took down 7th-seeded Florida to reach the Sweet 16. They then came as close as any 15-seed has to reaching the Elite Eight, taking 3rd-seeded Arkansas to the brink before falling 72-70.

2022: Saint Peter's

Remember the Peacocks! One year after ORU's dance to the Sweet 16, Saint Peter's did them one better, becoming the first 15-seed to reach the Elite Eight.

The Peacocks finished second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, won the league tournament, then stunned the Kentucky Wildcats in the first round 85-79 in overtime. They knocked off 7th-seeded Murray State 70-60 in the second round, then officially became a nationwide sensation with a 67-64 win over Purdue that sent them to the Elite Eight. The magic finally ran out in their bid to reach the Final Four, as they were routed 69-49 by North Carolina. After the tournament, Peacocks coach Shaheen Holloway was hired by Seton Hall.

2023: Princeton

For the third straight year a 15-seed not only beat a 2-seed but reached the Sweet 16, and the Arizona Wildcats became the first school to lose to a 15-seed twice.

The Tigers stunned the Wildcats 59-55, then dumped 7th-seeded Missouri in the second round before falling to Creighton in their bid to reach the round of eight.