March Madness upsets: 10 wins by double-digits seeds a NCAA high
So, how are your brackets holding up? As our modern-day shorthand might put it, LOL.
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Most of the damage, I presume, was done by Middle Tennessee State, a No. 15 seed, in its unexpected win over Michigan State on Friday.
But there were a whole bunch of favored teams that dropped out during the first run through the field. You might not have had many (or any) of the others penciled through to the Final Four, but you were counting on some to accumulate valuable points for your pool entry during the first weekend.
Based on seeding, there were 13 upsets in 32 games played on Thursday and Friday. Technically, that is.
Not so technically, No. 9 seeds beating No. 8s is rarely considered an upset. It was probably no different this year as three 9s won -- Providence over Southern Cal, Butler over Texas Tech, and UConn over Colorado. Coin-flips. If the tournament selection committee had seeded them in reverse, nobody would have raised an eyebrow.
Even ignoring those, there were 10 wins by teams that were seeded in the double digits. That's an all-time tournament high.
The highlights? Stephen F. Austin was a 14 when it got the best of West Virginia, No. 13 Hawaii caught Cal on the swoon, and a pair of 12s, Yale and Little Rock, were in the right place at the right time to eliminate a couple NCAA power conference underachievers, Baylor and Purdue, respectively. We must also mention No. 11 Northern Iowa's buzzer-beater from half court against Texas that became an instant NCAA classic.
But nothing had the Richter Scale dancing like Michigan State's 90-81 loss to Middle Tennessee. A whole bunch of you at least had MSU in the Final Four and you and I alike were stomping on, shredding, wadding up or torching our bracket sheets when that game went final.
It may not have been the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history, but it's in the discussion.
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been eight wins by No. 15-seeded teams over 2s. With the possible exception of the very first -- Richmond's 73-69 decision over Syracuse in 1991 -- just about all of those 15 vs. 2 outcomes would land on any list of major NCAA upsets.
Two of the biggest for 15s came in the same year -- 2012 -- when Lehigh of the Patriot League defeated Duke and Norfolk State of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference dispatched of Missouri.
The latter is generally considered to be the all-time all-timer. Norfolk State finished with 26 wins, but played a so-so schedule. Its two biggest nonconference wins during the regular season came against Texas Christian on a neutral floor and against Toledo at Savage Arena by a 72-70 score. The door to the dance was open to the Spartans only after regular-season champ Savannah State staggered in the quarterfinals of the MEAC tournament. Missouri was 30-4 and the Big 12 tournament champ.
In the Lehigh-Duke game, the Mountain Hawks came equipped with future NBA player C.J. McCollum, who went off for 30 points, while Duke was without its top 3-point shooter, the injured Ryan Kelly, and the Blue Devils were just 6 of 26 from behind the arc.
Thus, under the circumstances, Norfolk State's win over Mizzou was a bigger shock than Lehigh's surprising victory.
And I'd guess it's still the biggest despite what Middle Tennessee did to Michigan State on Friday.
Norfolk State gets the '15 nod despite Santa Clara (and freshman guard Steve Nash) over Arizona in 1993, Coppin State over South Carolina in 1997, Hampton (with a highlight-reel celebration by coach Steve Merfeld) over Iowa State in 2001, and Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown in 2013.
Hampton and Gulf Coast were back in the field this parity-heavy season among the four No. 16 seeds. Of course, neither they nor Austin Peay and Holy Cross could make it happen as the 16s remain 0-for-forever in the NCAA against No. 1 teams.
While Michigan State probably won't go down as the biggest upset loser in tournament history, in particular because Middle Tennessee was no stiff, we might argue conversely that Tom Izzo's troops made up a better team than any of the losing 2 seeds that came before them.
But that's all it is; an argument.
This article was written by Dave Hackenberg from The Blade and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.