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B/R CBB Community: What's the 1 NCAA Tournament Upset You'll Never Forget?

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystJanuary 6, 2022

UMBC's Jairus Lyles
UMBC's Jairus LylesChuck Burton/Associated Press

Every sport has postseason upsets, but nobody does unpredictable chaos quite like March Madness.

And on Tuesday afternoon, we asked our B/R app users which men's NCAA tournament upset they'll never forget.

Before we dive in, I'd like to note that we're focused on individual upsets, not necessarily the greatest multigame Cinderella stories.

For instance, 2006 George Mason, 2011 VCU, 2018 Loyola Chicago and 2021 UCLA all making it to the Final Four as No. 11 seeds was incredible theater, but outside maybe George Mason shocking No. 1 seed Connecticut in the Elite Eight, there wasn't an individual upset or moment in those runs that we'll remember forever.

The same goes for Gonzaga's original "glass slipper" runs, Arizona beating three No. 1 seeds en route to the 1997 title and Steph Curry carrying No. 10 seed Davidson to the 2008 Elite Eight. (Although, his 40-burger in the opening-round upset of Gonzaga certainly warrants an honorable mention.)

With that disclaimer out of the way, here are the B/R app-user submissions that stood out:

          

The Bryce Drew Hook and Ladder

@JB0421: Valpo over Iowa St...Bryce Drew baby

@thurts: Valpo! Drew's winner.

I believe @JB0421 is accidentally combining Valparaiso's 1998 victory over Ole Miss and Hampton's 2001 victory over Iowa State, both of which were first-round stunners.

But for those of us in our mid-30s, that Valpo game was the O.G. March Madness mind-blower.

Valparaiso was a No. 13 seed, and it had multiple opportunities in the final few minutes to either tie or take the lead against the Rebels. But when Bryce Drew bricked a step-through three-point attempt with less than 10 seconds remaining in a two-point game, it sure felt like the upset was out of reach.

Mississippi's Ansu Sesay missed a pair of free throws, though, and the second miss got knocked out of bounds to Valpo with 2.5 seconds remaining. Jamie Sykes heaved the ball two-thirds the length of the floor to Bill Jenkins, who immediately found Drew running down the sideline for a wide-open three-pointer. The coach's son nailed what is still one of the five most memorable buzzer-beaters in tournament history.

         

Dunk City

@NateS22: Florida Gulf Coast beating Georgetown. What a team!

Max Abmas, Kevin Obanor and Oral Roberts matched this feat in 2021, but when Florida Gulf Coast made it to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed in 2013, it was the first time in tournament history that a team seeded that low made it that far.

What made that run so unforgettable wasn't the seeding, but rather the dunking.

The Dunk City Eagles didn't just beat No. 2 seed Georgetown in their initial tourney game that year. They dunked the Hoyas into oblivion.

Fast-break alley-oops. Back-door cuts. Rim-rattling putbacks.

You name it. They slammed it.

But the iconic one came with about two minutes remaining in a seven-point game when Brett Comer had the gall to flip a ball over his shoulder to a streaking Chase Fieler for a one-handed dunk.

After that 10-point win over Georgetown, FGCU put up 81 points in another 10-point win over San Diego State. The dunks in that one weren't quite as memorable, but there were plenty of them. They also built up an early 10-point lead over Florida in the Sweet 16, but the magical ride ran out of gas over the final 27 minutes.

          

Ron Hunter Falls Off His Stool

@DrMantisTobagan: Georgia State over Baylor. RJ Hunter drains a buzzer beater as his coach/dad falls out of his chair and injures himself. Wasn't the biggest upset but one of the most fun to watch on tv live.

Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter was coaching from a rolling stool on the sideline because he suffered a torn Achilles while celebrating his team's 38-36 victory (seriously) over Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt championship.

So, it wasn't that fall when he suffered the injury.

And it wasn't actually a buzzer-beater that his son hit from a good eight feet beyond the arc. Baylor still had 2.6 seconds left to get off a half-court heave. But it missed, and No. 14 seed Georgia State won 57-56 after finishing the game on a 13-0 run.

As our pal Mantis said, it wasn't the biggest upset in tournament history, but it was absolutely one of the greatest moments.

         

A Pair of Natty Stunners

@mike_coyle10: Villanova over Gtown 1985

@joeandronaco: NC State vs. Houston 1983 NCAA finals

I wasn't even alive for either of these games, but they were two of the first 10 or so that came to mind when I pitched this topic.

The 1983 championship was the one that famously ended with Lorenzo Charles cleaning up a Dereck Whittenburg near-half-court heave with a dunk for the win at the buzzer, followed by head coach Jim Valvano frantically running around the court, looking for someone to hug.

Not only was it an iconic moment, but it was also a colossal upset.

NC State was a No. 6 seed that perhaps wouldn't have even made it into the Big Dance had it not knocked off two AP Top Five teams (North Carolina with Michael Jordan; Virginia with Ralph Sampson) to win the ACC tournament. Houston was the No. 1 team in the nation with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon leading "Phi Slamma Jamma." But the Wolfpack managed to hold that sensational team to 52 points.

If that's not the biggest championship upset in NCAA tournament history, it's only because the biggest one came two years later.

Villanova was a No. 8 seed in the 1985 tourney, and it darn near lost its opening-round game against Dayton. But from there, the Wildcats pulled off five consecutive upsets, punctuated by one of the best shooting performances of all time. They went 22-of-28 from the field (78.6 percent) and 22-of-27 (81.5 percent) from the free-throw line for a 66-64 upset over No. 1 Georgetown.

          

Down Go the Dukies

@CeedeeTD: Lehigh (CJ McCollum) over Duke

@jzsc4ever: Zion and the super team not making the Final Four

@Sc00p__24: VCU over Duke

@DeadlyCupofJoe: South Carolina beating Duke on their way to the Final Four in 2016.

@CTJBP: Anything with Duke being bounced by a nobody. Go ahead there are a couple of choices.

I had a hunch there would be quite a few Duke submissions, but through the first eight hours of responses, y'all missed the most unforgettable of them all: No. 14 Mercer knocking out the Jabari Parker-led Blue Devils, followed by Kevin Canevari going viral for hitting the nae nae.

As far as Duke's first-round upsets go, though, losing to Lehigh as a No. 2 seed is the correct answer.

By Duke's standards, 2011-12 was a bad season long before the tournament loss. The Blue Devils were 18th on KenPom.com heading into that game and pretty much only ended up with a No. 2 seed because of November wins over Kansas and Michigan State.

They still should have been able to beat Lehigh, though.

Yes, the Mountain Hawks had CJ McCollum, and yes, he went wild in that game, racking up 30 points with six assists and six rebounds. But in terms of future NBA players, Duke had an 8-1 lead over Lehigh.

The Blue Devils simply picked the wrong time to have one of their worst shooting performances. Andre Dawkins, Seth Curry and Austin Rivers went a combined 4-of-19 from three-point range (21.1 percent)a far cry from the 185-of-478 (38.7 percent) that they entered the night.

For my money, though, the most shocking Duke loss in the NCAA tournament came in the 2002 Sweet 16. Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Chris Duhon all returned from the 2001 national championship team and entered that Dance as the favorite to win it all. But No. 5 seed Indiana erased a 17-point deficit for a 74-73 stunner.

        

The Ultimate Cinderella Story

@22VNU22: There's literally only one choice and it's UMBC

@AnalyticsFan508: How can it not be the 1 seed going down?

The only No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed was, of course, the most popular answer. And one of my greatest regrets in life was not going to this game, considering it was played about 10 miles from where I was living at the time.

In my defense, I was a little under the weather, my four-screen setup at home was awesome and I never in a million years would have dreamed that 31-2 Virginia could lose to a team that entered the tournament ranked 188th on KenPom.

In the five seasons leading up to that point, Tony Bennett's pack-line defense had been unflappable against subpar competition. The Cavaliers had won 62 consecutive games against teams ranked outside the KenPom top 80, with 56 of those wins coming by double digits. Their average margin of victory was 21.2 points.

During that same five-year stretch, UMBC played just six games against teams in the KenPom top 50, losing those six games by an average margin of 23.5 points.

But after playing to a 21-21 draw in the first half, the Retrievers simply could not miss in the second half. Against one of the most efficient defenses in KenPom history, they racked up 20 points in the first five minutes after the intermission and ended up scoring 53 second-half points in a 20-point blowout.

Even as things were spiraling out of control, I kept sitting there thinking, "OK, this is the part where Virginia finally wakes up and takes the game over." It wasn't until the Retrievers went ahead 61-44 with less than four minutes to go that I finally realized we were witnessing history.

          

If there's a topic you'd like to see covered for next week's community discussion, shoot me a DM on the B/R app: @KerranceJames.

Kerry Miller covers men's college basketball and college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @kerrancejames.

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