March Madness: The 25 Biggest Upsets in the Past 10 Years
The best three weeks of the year.
When I hear that, I can only imagine that it's time for the NCAA tournament. With that being said, it's time to fill out your brackets.
Winning your NCAA tournament poll often comes down to predicting the most upsets. The best part of March Madness is often watching that Cinderella team pull off the monumental upset of a heavily favored team from a power conference.
In the past 10 years, close to 100 lower seeds have come out with victories over their heavily favored opponents. That made this list extremely difficult to narrow down to 25.
These monumental upsets probably wrecked your brackets at the time, so without any more delay, let's relive some of the greatest NCAA tournament upsets over the last decade.
25. St. Mary's over Villanova (2010)
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Second Round: St. Mary's (10) 75, Villanova (2) 68
This cracks the list due to it being a second-round game. The Gaels weren't a pushover, having beaten Gonzaga in the WCC tournament to earn the automatic bid. St. Mary's was ranked at times during 2010, so winning wasn't a complete shock, but dominating Villanova was.
After beating Richmond in the first round to win their first tournament game in 51 years, the Gaels had the tough task of facing the Wildcats.
Villanova was a trendy pick to reach the Final Four, but ran into a dominant performance from Omar Samhan, who had a game-high 32 points, most coming in the paint, where the Gaels owned the game.
24. Northwestern St. over Iowa (2006)
First Round: Northwestern St. (14) 64, Iowa (3) 63
Everyone loves the little guy that hits the buzzer-beater to win a tournament game.
That's what we had here, as Jermaine Wallace (pictured) knocked down a fade-away three as the clock expired to give the little-known Demons an upset victory over Iowa.
Iowa had a ton of momentum coming into the tournament after winning the Big Ten tournament, but couldn't put away Northwestern St.
The Hawkeyes led by 17 with a little more than eight minutes left, but the Demons turned up the defense and made history.
Wallace actually never saw his game-winner swish through the net as he ended up flat on his back.
23. Siena over Vanderbilt (2008)
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First Round: Siena (13) 83, Vanderbilt (4) 62
Siena had become one of those trendy first-round upset picks the past few years, but a 2008 first-round game against Vanderbilt put the Saints on the national map.
The Commodores entered the 2008 tournament as a possible sleeper to reach the Final Four, but Fran McCaffrey's Siena squad ran through Vanderbilt with little trouble.
22. Cleveland St. over Wake Forest (2009)
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First Round: Cleveland St. (13) 84, Wake Forest (4) 69
The Demon Deacons have found themselves in this spot a ton in the last decade. The heavily favored team from the ACC is expected to make a decent run in March, yet fall flat on their face to a heavy underdog from a small conference.
In 2009 it was the Cleveland St. Vikings that did the honors for Wake Forest.
The Vikings jumped out to a 17-point first-half lead and despite being severely out-sized, found a way to compete and knock off the Deacons.
21. Gonzaga over St. John's (2000)
Second Round: Gonzaga (10) 82, St. John's (2) 76
Before Gonzaga became America's favorite Cinderella and many years before they became a team expected to win, the Bulldogs had to make their mark with a monumental tournament win.
They got that in 2000 when little-known Gonzaga pulled off a second-round shocker over second-seeded St. John's.
That win helped elevate Gonzaga into the national power they would eventually become.
20. Manhattan over Florida (2004)
First Round: Manhattan (12) 75, Florida (5) 60
Before Billy Donovan's Gators began cutting down the nets in March, they went through a stretch where they underacheived for years.
The 2004 team was led by David Lee, and the Gators were expected to make a decent run, but no one told the Jaspers from Manhattan that.
Lee was held to seven points, while four Jaspers went for double-figures. The rest, as they say, is history.
19. Northern Iowa over Kansas (2010)
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Second Round: Northern Iowa (9) 69, Kansas (1) 67
This likely could be ranked a tad bit higher due to Kansas being the No. 1 overall seed in 2010. However, this Northern Iowa team was very good, being ranked close to the top 10 at times during the year.
They were likely a tad bit under-seeded entering the tournament, and it showed. The Panthers jumped out to a big first-half lead and managed to withstand every Jayhawks run.
MVC teams have done well in March, and Northern Iowa was no different.
While Kansas' guards were 0-12 in the second half, the Panthers were able to stay on top due to being deadly from behind the arc.
The key moment came when the Panthers led by one and instead of pulling the ball out to wisely run clock, Ali Farokhmanesh pulled the trigger on a three that sent the Jayhawks packing.
18. UNC Wilmington over USC (2002)
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First Round: UNC Wilmington (13) 93, USC (4) 89
Sam Clancy and the rest of Henry Bibby's Trojans weren't ready for the blizzard that was coming their way.
That's Brett Blizzard of UNC Wilmington.
USC let the Seahawks hang around a bit too long and toward the end of the game couldn't match the energy or big plays from Blizzard, who finished with 18 points.
17. Indiana St. over Oklahoma (2001)
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First Round: Indiana St. (13) 70, Oklahoma (4) 68
Indiana St. won its first tournament game in 22 years with an upset over Oklahoma.
Matt Renn had 22 for the Sycamores, who rallied from 13 down in the second half to send the game into overtime.
What made this upset special was Sycamores guard Kelyn Block, who had several teeth knocked out in the second half and emerged from the locker room just before the extra period tipped off.
The crowd went nuts, and Block scored five of his 17 points in the overtime period to help Indiana St. pull off the shocker.
16. UW-Milwaukee over Boston College (2005)
First Round: UW-Milwaukee (13) 83, Boston College (4) 75
Before Bruce Pearl was donning his bright orange suit as the head coach at the University of Tennessee, he was pulling off upsets for UW-Milwaukee.
The Panthers got past Alabama in the first round and then sent Boston College packing to make the Sweet 16.
The job Pearl did with his UW-Milwaukee team put his name back on the map and landed him a job at a major program.
15. VCU over Duke (2007)
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First Round: VCU (11) 79, Duke (6) 77
This was the case of one player and one small team winning the nation over in a matter of minutes.
VCU guard Eric Maynor put on a show against the Blue Devils and showed a flare for the dramatic as Duke's stay in the 2007 tournament was a short one.
While this wasn't the best Duke team we've seen this decade, Maynor's accomplishments that night were still amazing.
VCU played fast and pressed the Blue Devils throughout. Halfway through the second half, almost everyone in the nation was rooting for the Rams.
Maynor finished the game with 22 points and scored six in the final 1:22, but it was his 18-footer with only 1.8 seconds left on the clock that was the final nail in the Blue Devils' coffin.
14. Cornell over Wisconsin (2010)
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Second Round: Cornell (12) 87, Wisconsin (4) 69
Cornell knocked off its second-ranked opponent in a matter of days when they jumped out to an early lead and knocked out Bo Ryan's Badgers.
The Big Red didn't have a problem with Temple in the first round, and Wisconsin turned out to be no match either for the Ivy League school.
Wisconsin entered the game holding teams to an average of 56 points per game, but Cornell guards Ryan Wittman, the Ivy League Player of the Year, and Louis Dale combined to score 50 points on the day.
The win marked the first time Cornell had ever advanced to the Sweet 16.
13. Bradley over Pittsburgh (2006)
Second Round: Bradley (13) 72, Pitt (5) 66
This one hurt Pitt fans, but it was time for Bradley Braves fans to celebrate as they advanced to their first Sweet 16 in 51 years.
Patrick O'Bryant had 28 points and seven rebounds, and Marcellus Sommerville added 18 points and six rebounds for the Braves in the win.
Pitt had no answer for O'Bryant as Bradley jumped out to a big lead and got Pitt's own seven-footer Aaron Gray in early foul trouble.
With Gray on the bench, O'Bryant had his way with the Panthers.
12. Butler over Louisville (2003)
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Second Round: Butler (12) 79, Louisville (4) 71
Just like Gonzaga and other mid-majors at the time, Butler had to put themselves on the map with a marquee tournament win.
That's what the Bulldogs did in 2003 when they knocked off Louisville.
Sometimes teams can ride one hot player in March, and that's exactly what Butler did with Darnell Archey.
Archey put on a shooting display against the Cardinals, draining eight three-pointers en route to helping Butler advance to the Sweet 16.
Butler, who didn't make the tournament the year before despite winning 25 games, trailed by 15 early, but some red-hot shooting helped the Bulldogs advance.
11. Southern Illinois over Georgia (2002)
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Second Round: Southern Illinois (11) 77, Georgia (3) 75
The Salukis quickly became America's darlings in the early 2000s, and their tournament performance in 2002 helped their reputation.
Southern Illinois trailed by 19, but a spirited effort from the entire team helped rally the Salukis to stun the Bulldogs.
Jermaine Dearman led the way for Southern Illinois, who surprisingly advanced to the Sweet 16.
10. Bradley over Kansas (2006)
First Round: Bradley (13) 77, Kansas (4) 73
Here are those Bradley Braves again from 2006.
Even though they beat Pitt in the second round, their upset of Kansas in the first round ranks a tad bit higher on the list.
O'Bryant was a matchup problem for Pitt, but the athleticism and star power the Jayhawks had should have meant an easy win on paper.
Bradley quickly showed they weren't intimidated by the Jayhawks and from the opening tip looked like a team that was poised (and expected) to win.
Bradley won this one with a different style, draining 11 threes, including five from Sommerville, who led the Braves with 21 points.
9. San Diego over Connecticut (2008)
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First Round: San Diego (13) 70, Connecticut (4) 69
This was a game the Toreros shouldn't have had a chance in. That showed during the opening tip when San Diego center Rob Jones didn't even attempt to jump against UConn's Hasheem Thabeet.
Yet as the game went on, San Diego wasn't backing down from the Big East power at all, and as the second half wound down, the Toreros became absolutely fearless.
That showed during the tip to begin overtime, when Jones nearly out jumped his 7'3" counterpart.
In overtime, De'Jon Jackson hit a long jumper with 1.2 seconds on the clock, undoubtedly the biggest shot in school history, to send the Toreros home a winner.
The Toreros' Gyno Pomare became a star for a weekend with a game-high 22 points to advance San Diego to the second round.
8. Ohio over Georgetown (2010)
First Round: Ohio (14) 97, Georgetown (3) 83
All of the other upsets I at least knew were possible.
Here is one I did not see coming.
Georgetown was hot, and many experts saw at least a trip to the Elite Eight in the Hoyas' future.
The Bobcats had a losing record in MAC conference play, yet won the MAC tournament and the automatic bid that came with it.
This was going to be just a warm-up act for Georgetown, but before they knew it, the Hoyas found themselves down 19.
Ohio shot the ball well from behind the arc all game, which is a common theme among these upsets. Even though the Hoyas eventually cut the lead to seven in the second half, Ohio never cooled off shooting the ball and cruised to an easy win.
7. Kent St. over Pittsburgh (2002)
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Regional Semifinals: Kent St. (10) 78, Pitt (3) 73
Pitt has become used to heartbreak in March, and while Scottie Reynolds' runner still stings Panthers fans, this loss hurts much worse.
This was a realistic chance for Pitt to reach the Final Four, and the bracket played to their favor.
Trevor Huffman turned out to be just a little bit better than Brandon Knight that day, as Huffman's runner with 59 seconds left gave the Golden Flashes a lead they would never look back from.
While Huffman was good, the story of the game was Antonio Gates. Yes, that Antonio Gates, who would go on to become one of the NFL's top tight ends of the decade.
Gates had 22 points and eight boards, and became a matchup problem for the Panthers.
At the time, the win gave the Golden Flashes the nation's longest win streak at 21 games.
6. George Mason over North Carolina (2006)
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Second Round: George Mason (11) 65, North Carolina (3) 60
When we talk Cinderella, was there a better team wearing the glass slipper the past 10 years than George Mason in 2006?
After taking out perennial power Michigan St. in the first round, the Patriots took care of the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels in the second round.
Many said George Mason didn't belong in the 2006 tournament, after the CAA conference team received an at-large berth, but the Patriots quickly proved everyone wrong.
George Mason quickly found themselves in a 16-2 hole, but switched to a zone defense the rest of the first half that got the Patriots right back in the game.
After that, forwards Will Thomas and Jai Lewis dominated the Tar Heels up front.
In the second half, George Mason switched back to man-to-man defense and made a habit of double- and triple-teaming Tyler Hansbrough en route to the stunning upset.
5. Vermont over Syracuse (2005)
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First Round: Vermont (13) 60, Syracuse (4) 57
This Vermont team was a fun one to watch, at least for one night, as they pulled the shocker over Jim Boeheim's Syracuse squad.
The Catamounts won their biggest game in school history and sent coach Tom Brennen into a happy retirement.
Germain Mopa Njila and T.J. Sorrentine hit consecutive three-pointers in a 48-second span of overtime as Vermont upset Big East champion Syracuse 60-57.
Taylor Coppenwrath, whose popularity rose dramatically over that weekend, chipped in 16 hard-earned points for the Catamounts.
4. Davidson over Georgetown (2008)
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Second Round: Davidson (10) 74, Georgetown (2) 70
When we think of upset and America's Cinderella team, Stephen Curry and the Davidson Wildcats come to mind.
Really, when low-seeded teams pull off the first-round upset, all they are supposed to get is one win.
Not for Curry, though.
After dropping 40 to knock off Gonzaga in the first round, Curry finished with 30 against the Hoyas in one of the better tournament games of the decade.
The most impressive part is that with 15 minutes left to play, Curry had only scored five points and Davidson was down 46-29.
Then Curry hit one three-pointer, then another and then, well you get the point.
This was Curry's tournament, and he let the whole world witness it as he led the Wildcats to the Sweet 16.
3. Bucknell over Kansas (2005)
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First Round: Bucknell (14) 64, Kansas (3) 63
For some reason, Kansas keeps coming up on the wrong end of this list.
This was stunning for Kansas, who began the season ranked No. 1, against a program looking for its first tournament win in the past 110 years.
The Bison got it when Chris McNaughton banked in a hook shot over Wayne Simien with 10.5 seconds left, and Simien missed an open 15-foot jumper at the buzzer.
Bucknell became the first No. 14 seed of the decade to win, and they did it in dramatic fashion.
Kansas always flirted with disaster against lower-seed opponents, and this time they got burned. The Jayhawks never were able to put the Bison away, even taking a one-point lead with 25 seconds to play.
Bucknell guard Kevin Bettencourt led the Bison with 19 points, including five three-pointers.
2. Davidson over Wisconsin (2008)
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Regional Semifinals: Davidson (10) 73, Wisconsin (3) 56
If Davidson beating Georgetown wasn't big enough, the thought of Stephen Curry leading the Wildcats to the Elite Eight was something else.
That's exactly what Curry did, though.
For the third consecutive time in the 2008 tournament, Curry went for more than 30 points, this time dropping 33 on the Badgers.
Curry hit six three-pointers in the game and managed to outscore Wisconsin by himself in the second half, 22-20.
The win extended Davidson's win streak to a nation-best 25 games.
1. George Mason over Connecticut (2006)
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Regional Finals: George Mason (11) 86, Connecticut (1) 84
George Mason did what no other double-digit seed could accomplish during the last decade, and that's a run to the Final Four.
That gives the Patriots the No. 1 greatest upset in the last 10 years.
George Mason had a disadvantage in size, athleticism and even history to overcome against the region's No.1 seed Connecticut.
They overcame it all, stunning the Huskies 86-84 in overtime.
The Patriots trailed by 12 in the first half and by nine in the second, but showed the type of heart you typically only see in the movies and overcame all the odds to cut down the nets.
George Mason had never won a tournament game before, yet knocked out half of the previous season's Final Four (UNC and Michigan St.) and the past two defending national champions (UNC and UConn).
Their run would end in the Final Four at the hands of that season's national champion Florida Gators, but what the Patriots did that year will be hard to match.