NCAA Championship Game 2011: Can Butler Join List of Biggest Upsets of All Time?
The surprising runs of VCU and Butler in the NCAA tournament have everybody thinking upsets. It has led to the obvious question: What are the greatest championship upsets of all time?
Of course, if Butler does pull off one more win over UConn to clinch the title, the next question will be: Where will they end up on this list?
Unlike some of the rest on this list, they will not be playing an overwhelming favorite coming into the game. However, coming into the tournament, few expected the No. 8 seeded Bulldogs to make the Sweet 16, let alone a title run.
If they do pull off one more upset, they will earn a spot on this list.
#9 1966 Texas Western (now UTEP) Beat Kentucky
Texas Western had the first all-black starting five to win the NCAA championship.
The win was even sweeter coming against the openly-racist Adolph Rupp. His Kentucky Wildcats came in as the top-ranked team in the country. Texas Western, like Kentucky, had only lost one game all season.
The game, which happened in the midst of the civil rights era, was more than just a game. The Texas Western win helped blow apart many racially-motivated myths in sports.
#8 2004 Pistons over Lakers
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The Lakers marched in as a loaded team. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal had already won three championships and most were already handing them this one. Karl Malone and Gary Payton had joined the team in an effort to grab that elusive title.
The Pistons were not only the team with no stars, but consisted of players that other teams just didn’t want or had given up on.
Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups took this blue collar, hard working team to the championship. They beat the Lakers by an average of 13.3 points and held the high-scoring Lakers to 16 points below the season average.
#7 1969 Mets
The Mets had lost at least 100 games in five of their first seven years. They were 100-1 long shots to win the World Series entering the season.
It was surprising enough when they finished the season 100-62. They then topped it off by beating the Atlanta Braves to win the National League Pennant.
In the World Series, they faced the high-powered Baltimore Orioles and beat them in five games. They earned the nickname "Miracle Mets" for the season that nobody saw coming.
#6 Super Bowl XLII 2008 Giants over Patriots
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The Giants were the fifth seed entering the NFL playoffs and were 12-point underdogs for the big game. They were facing the New England Patriots who were riding a perfect season into the game.
The Patriots were only the second team to ever finish the regular season undefeated and the first to be 16-0. The were looking to sweep the playoffs and become the first team to ever go 19-0 in the NFL.
The Giants had other plans however as they scored the go-ahead touchdown with 35 seconds left in the game. They held on to win the championship and stopped the Patriots from making history.
#5 Buster Douglas Beats Mike Tyson 1990
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Tyson was the overpowering champ who appeared unstoppable as he just destroyed his opponents. What was supposed to be a warm-up fight turned into a nightmare for Tyson as he was knocked out in the tenth round.
Douglas had never been considered anything more than an average fighter. Before the fight, many wondered how he had even earned the opportunity to have a championship fight.
Douglas entered the bout as a 42-1 underdog but was able to make Tyson look mortal for a night and walked out of the ring with the championship belt.
#4 NC State over Houston 1983
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NC State entered the tournament as the sixth seed. This was in the years when only 48 teams made the tournament. They were lucky to even make the tourney as their 10 losses and fourth-placed finish in the ACC would not earn them an invite. They had to win the conference tournament in order to gain the automatic bid for the NCAA tourney.
Houston entered the game as the dominating force in college basketball. Led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, the team was known as "Phi Slamma Jamma". They were making their second consecutive Final Four appearance and looked to squash the overmatched NC State team.
The Wolfpack shocked everyone when a last second basket sealed their championship.
#3 Villanova over Georgetown 1985
The Georgetown Hoyas were the defending champs and looked poised for a repeat. They were a hard-playing team that was led by Patrick Ewing. They had stomped their way through the tourney, winning by an average of 15 points per game.
The No. 8 seeded Villanova Wildcats are still the lowest-seeded team to win the championship. They had already lost to the Hoyas twice during the season. They played an amazing game, one where they only missed one second half field goal. Their tremendous shooting helped propel them to a 66-64 win and an unlikely championship.
#2 Super Bowl III New York Jets over Baltimore Colts 1970
The third installment of the AFL-NFL championship game was the first to be called the Super Bowl. The AFL was still thought of as the inferior league. In the first two championship games, the AFL has lost badly and many wondered if the merger could survive.
The Colts finished the season 13-1 and were being talked about as one of the greatest teams ever. Their defense only gave up 144 points all season, which at the time tied the all-time record. Their offense was equally as dominant and they won their games by an average of 18 points.
The Jets were 11-3 but weren’t even considered the best AFL team that season. They entered the game as 18-point underdogs. Three days before the game, Joe Namath made the famous guarantee that his team would win the game. Miraculously, he came through with a 16-7 win over the mighty colts.
The game showed the AFL could hold their own against the established NFL teams. It saved the merger and eventually helped to AFL and NFL to become one league.
#1 Rulon Gardner Defeats Alexander Karelin 2000
How does this one earn the top spot?
In the rest of the list, the favored team or boxer had been great for a season(year), maybe two.
Karelin is widely considered the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler ever. With Karelin, we see a run of dominance that is unprecedented and likely never to be matched. He not only had not lost in 13 years of international competition, but perhaps even more impressive, he hadn’t even been scored on in ten years.
Yes, ten straight years of shutouts, truly a remarkable and impressive feat.
Gardner has already lost to Karelin in 1997 and looked to have no chance in the Olympic Championship bout. Karelin’s first point he had given up in ten years proved to be costly as Gardner won 1-0.