March Madness 2012: 13 Biggest NCAA Tournament Upsets in the Last 10 Years
Nothing makes the NCAA Tournament what it is more than the first round upsets from 14, 13, 12 and 11-seed upsets over 3, 4, 5 or 6 seeds. And on the rarest occasions a 15-seed will come out of nowhere and shock a 2-seed.
It's Gus Johnson making those electric calls. It's the moments that take your breath away. It is March Madness. And nothing defines this great event better than the upset. This isn't necessarily a comprehensive list but i intended to make up the best of the best in upsets over the past 10 NCAA Tournaments.
Here are the best we've seen in the last 10 seasons.
No. 8 UCLA over No. 1 Cincinnati
I still remember this game as if it happened yesterday. My father being a UCLA alum, and myself at the time being a hopeful Bruin one day, rooting so hard for a disparaged and defunct UCLA squad against the nation's No. 1 team.
Of course, because the game started on a Sunday morning before 10 AM we were at church for most of the game, but we had recorded it and watched when we got home as the Bruins behind one of the nation's best scorers, Jason Kapono, held off the Bearcats long enough to go to overtime.
In overtime, Kapono and the Bruins did just enough to shock the nation and provide the biggest upset in the tournament to that point (at least as far as who was beaten).
The 101-95 victory was probably Steve Lavin's greatest victory as head coach at UCLA and one of his last great moments for the Bruins.
No. 10 Kent State over No. 3 Pittsburgh
You may recognize the lone Golden Flash in that photo. If not, it's Antonio Gates, yeah the Antonio Gates who is now the All Pro tight end for the San Diego Chargers.
As is always the case with Pittsburgh, especially under Ben Howland, this contest was hotly contested and physical. Kent State was able to blend physicality with skill and precision to knock off the No. 3 seed and advance to the school's first Elite Eight.
The 78-73 victory put up head coach Stan Heath on the map helping him land a prime job at Arkansas. It also left Ben Howland frustrated and ready to leave for greener pastures. Both would move on shortly after this game, but not before combining for a classic and one of the best upsets in the past 10 years of the NCAA Tournament.
No. 12 Manhattan over No. 5 Florida
The No. 12 over No. 5 upset is a fad that bracketeers have gotten used to over the past decade. Perhaps none has been as shocking or dominating as the victory Manhattan had over Florida in 2004.
Manhattan finished with a comprehensive 75-60 victory over the Gators. Luis Flores had 26 points for Manhattan, while Dave Holmes scored 12 points and brought down 12 rebounds for the Jaspers.
Though there have been many twelfth seed over fifth seed upsets since, the 2004 annihilation the Jaspers put on the Gators is the one which stands out among the past 10 years.
No. 12 UW-Milwaukee over No. 5 Alabama
Bruce Pearl's UW-Milwaukee squad provided another thrilling 12-5 upset over Mark Gottfried's Alabama Crimson Tide 83-73 in 2005.
Ed McCants and Joah Tucker each scored 21 points for the Panthers. The team shot 52 percent for the game and made 12 three-pointers. Though Alabama shot close to the same percentages, Milwaukee capitalized on Alabama's 19 turnovers by scoring 27 points.
No statistic was more important for the Panthers as they used the victory over the Crimson Tide to propel them into the Sweet 16 after also defeating No. 4 Boston College.
No. 13 Vermont over No. 4 Syracuse
The Vermont Catamounts entered the NCAA Tournament back in 2005 with a veteran squad led by stars center Taylor Coppenrath and guard T.J. Sorrentine.
Head coach Tom Brennan did everything he could to instill confidence in his team and it finally worked as Coppenrath and Sorrentine combined for 33 points. But it was a surprise role player who stepped up for Vermont in the person of Germain Mopa Njila, who scored 20 points, including a go-ahead three-pointer that gave Vermont a one-point lead.
Then it was Sorrentine who made one of the most memorable shots in the past decade for the Vermont victory. The shot also gave us just another wonderful call from everyone's favorite announcer, Gus Johnson.
Vermont used that overtime shot to catapult its way to a great first round upset; one of the finest in the past decade.
No. 14 Bucknell over No. 3 Kansas
The Bucknell Bison provided us a wonderfully exciting upset when they took down No. 3 seed Kansas 64-63 in 2005.
The Bison defeated a Kansas team led by Wayne Simien for their first NCAA Tournament victory. Chris McNaughton hit a hook shot with 10.5 seconds left that proved to be the winning basket after Simien missed a jump shot at the buzzer.
This was not the most memorable upset of Kansas from this decade but it was quite enjoyable for all who love to see the big boys go down early.
No. 14 Northwestern State over No. 3 Iowa
One of the more embarrassing losses by a top seed came in 2006 when Iowa and Steve Alford were tripped up by No. 14 Northwestern State 64-63.
Northwestern State was down by six with less than three minutes to go and it looked like their upset bid would go by the wayside. They crept to within two when Iowa's Greg Brunner had a free throw to put the Hawkeyes up by three. He missed, opening the door for Northwestern State to make a little history.
After a missed three-pointer and a long rebound Jermaine Wallace, hit a deep fadeaway three-pointer with 0.5 seconds left to put the Demons up one. Iowa threw the ball down court but Adam Haluska's last gasp shot went awry and the small Louisiana school brought the state's greatest victory to that point since Hurricane Katrina.
Steve Alford was let go at Iowa mainly because of this loss. Northwestern State hasn't done anything significant in hoops since. But at the time it was quite a ripple throughout college basketball.
No. 13 Bradley over No. 4 Kansas
The Bradley Braves beat the Kansas Jayhawks 77-73 in 2006 for another huge upset at the Jayhawks' expense. I suspect knowing their history, no Jayhawks fan is going to click on this article anyway, but should they, I apologize.
Facts are facts, Bradley followed in line with other teams who knocked off the Jayhawks and made a great March memory for all tournament fans. It's not quite as great as the year before when Bucknell knocked off the 3-seed Jayhawks, but Bradley over Kansas was great nonetheless.
Even more impressively, the Braves then went on to defeat No. 5 Pittsburgh 72-66 in another wonderful performance by the Missouri Valley Conference representatives. In fact, Bradley's trip to the Sweet 16 was one of the stories of the 2006 tournament.
No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth vs. No. 6 Duke
In 2007 Virginia Commonwealth wasn't the same team they were in 2011 when they made their shocking run to the Final Four. The '07 version was primarily a one-man team built around future first round pick Eric Maynor.
It's not to say that VCU wasn't a good team, only that Maynor was the undisputed best player for that squad. His game-winning shot brought a number of eyes to Maynor and made him a top-NBA prospect in 2009.
And I haven't even mentioned yet the greatest accomplishment of that Rams team. They beat Duke! The Duke team everyone either loves or hates. Much like the Yankees, Lakers and Red Wings one must either decide to love them or hate them, for there is no in between.
So it comes as no surprise that much of the nation was delighted when the Rams defeated a Duke team that had not been knocked out of the first round since anyone could remember.
Of course, Anthony Grant's team provided only a foreshadowing of much greater things to come via the VCU program and Shaka Smart.
No. 13 San Diego over No. 4 UCONN
As a San Diego State student I wasn't exactly a fan of the USD Torreros but when they were up against UCONN I simply could not root against our city rival.
I was playing ball with friends at the Aztec Recreation Center while the game was going on and as the game got tough we all crowded around the television sets in the lobby of the gym. We were all in conjunction rooting for the hometown team against the evil Huskies.
As the game went to overtime Gino Pomare and Brandon Johnson took over for USD and led the Torreros to a 70-69 victory over the Huskies. It was a tight game, one that went down to the wire. It didn't have a single play that stood out like many March Madness upsets but was as good a game as I can remember during the tournament.
Having the team from San Diego win just made it that much better.
No. 11 George Mason over No. 1 UCONN
The victory for No. 11 George Mason over UCONN capped one of the finest Cinderella runs in NCAA Tournament history and catapulted George Larranga's squad to the Final Four.
In Regional Final, George Mason shocked everyone's No.1 team in the country. A Connecticut squad led by Rudy Gay was expected to make a sizable run to the NCAA Championship. It got to the Elite Eight with relative ease before George Mason came and slapped them in the face.
While the result was a mere two-point win (86-84) in overtime George Mason was much more in control of the game than the margin indicated. Jai Lewis and Co. held serve most of the game and made everyone's No. 1 team look kind of silly.
No. 9 Northern Iowa over No. 1 Kansas
Again, to all Kansas fans, I want to make it clear this is nothing personal. But much like UCLA or North Carolina or Kentucky losing to inferior teams, when the Jayhawks lose to a team seeded below them it sends shock waves through the NCAA radar.
Perhaps because it's the most recent, but also of Kevin Harlan's brilliant call of this game, the upset at the hand of the Panthers from Northern Iowa is the most memorable of all the Kansas upsets of the past decade.
Panthers' guard Ali Farokhmanesh hit three after three and dished out timely assists which slowly broke the backs of the No. 1 Jayhawks.
If you need anymore commentary on this game, just watch the video.
No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth over No. 1 Kansas
Of course I could have chosen any of Virginia Commonwealth's wins. All of them were magical, all of them were true upsets. But none were as shocking as VCU's victory over a great Kansas team.
With the Morris twins and Thomas Robinson, the Jayhawks possessed a lethal frontcourt, one that should end up leading to three first-round draft picks. It was a group that was stacked to the max, yet Shaka Smart's team came out victorious.
Led by Joey Rodriguez, Brandon Rozzell, Bradford Burgess and Jamie Skeen's 26 point, 10 rebound effort the Rams came up with their greatest upset in front of the San Antonio crowd on a breathtaking run to Houston and the Final Four.