basketball-men-d1 flag

Ryan Connors | | March 22, 2019

March Madness 2019: Here's how close each No. 16 seed came to beating a No. 1 seed

Duke Blue Devils vs. North Dakota State Bison: Game Highlights

For the 79th time in the 80-year history of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, a No. 16 seed did not beat a No. 1 seed. But dang it, a few underdogs made things interesting.

North Carolina, Virginia, Duke and Gonzaga all advanced to the round of 32, but only one of those teams had that outcome assured almost immediately.

Let's dive in.

No. 16 Iona vs. No. 1 North Carolina: This made Tar Heel fans real nervous

Halftime score: Iona 38, North Carolina 33
Iona's last lead: 18:43, second half
Iona's largest lead: 8 points

The final 16-vs.-1 game of the tournament gave us the most intrigue, as North Carolina trailed at halftime and didn't stake a double-digit lead until there was 13 minutes remaining in the game. 

Iona was on fire from deep in the first half, to the point that it was unlikely the Gaels would be able to sustain that pace in the second half.

The Tar Heels found their shot in the second half, and made sure the Gaels couldn't find theirs. 

No. 16 Gardner-Webb vs. No. 1 Virginia: UVA took care of business...eventually

Halftime score: Gardner-Webb 36, Virginia 30
Final score: Virginia 71 Gardner-Webb 56
Gardner-Webb's last lead: 17:28, second half
Gardner-Webb's largest lead: 14 points

Virginia had some obvious demons to overcome, and looked haunted to start the game. But after Gardner-Webb got out to a 14-point lead early, Virginia rediscovered what made the Cavaliers great in the regular season. DeAndre Hunter, who missed last year's 1-vs.-16 game, led UVA with 23 points, 17 of which came in the second half. 

 They turned things around and won by double digits, but still gave everyone a good scare.


No. 16 North Dakota State vs. No. 1 Duke: Zion to the rescue!

Halftime score: Duke 31, NDSU 27
Final score: Duke 85, NDSU 62
NDSU's last lead: 2:34, first half
NDSU's largest lead: 7 points

Duke, the team that captured the world's attention this season, going down would have been an even bigger upset than UMBC's win over Virginia last season. And at halftime, NDSU made sure we couldn't rule out the idea of the Blue Devils going down.

But then:


But also:

And importantly:

No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 16 Gonzaga: Welp!

Halftime score: Gonzaga 53, FDU 17
Final score: Gonzaga 87, FDU 49
FDU's last lead: N/A
FDU's largest lead: N/A

This one was Gonzaga from the get-go. The 36-point halftime deficit afforded the Zags a whole lot of leeway in the second half, and they didn't need any of it. 

And that's probably all we need to say about that.

These college basketball teams and conferences have the most NBA first-round draft picks

Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke are the college basketball teams with the most first-round picks in NBA draft history.

Paolo Banchero: College basketball stats, best moments, quotes at Duke

These are the essential stats, facts, highlights and quotes from Paolo Banchero's college basketball career at Duke.

The 12 freshmen expected to have biggest impact for potential men's NCAA tournament teams

Two incoming Duke freshmen headline Andy Katz's rankings of the most important freshmen next season.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners