Middle Tennessee's Win Among Best NCAA Tourney Upsets of All Time

Posted by Mark Schremmer on

It’s fair to say the 2016 NCAA men’s basketball tournament has been unpredictable. The first round featured 13 upsets and numerous buzzer-beaters.

Likely no upset was talked about more than No. 15 Middle Tennessee State’s improbable win over a second-seeded Michigan State team that many people predicted would win the tournament.

But how does the Spartans’ loss match up with the top NCAA tournament upsets of all time?

  1. LeWho? No. 15 LeHigh shocks No. 2 Duke in first round (2012)

C.J. McCollum made the nation well aware of the Mountain Hawks as he scored 30 points to help LeHigh top the perennial power Blue Devils 75-70.

  1. Spider Bite: Richmond becomes first No. 15 seed to win by beating Syracuse (1991)

The Richmond Spiders made history by topping second-seeded Syracuse, which was led by Billy Owens. Richmond held on 73-69.

  1. Bracket Buster: No. 15 Middle Tennessee ousts No. 2 Michigan State (2016)

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders eliminated Michigan State with a 90-81 victory. According to online brackets entering the tournament, the Spartans were the second most favored team. Michigan State’s star, Denzel Valentine, was limited to 13 points.

  1. Super Nova: Villanova upsets Georgetown in championship game (1985)

With Patrick Ewing leading the way, the Hoyas seemed unbeatable. The defending national champions, Georgetown entered the game with a 35-3 record and a 17-game winning streak. Eighth-seeded Villanova, which was led by Ed Pinckney, likely wouldn’t have made the tournament if the field hadn’t been expanded to 64 teams that year. The Wildcats made 78 percent of their shots in the stunning 66-64 upset.

  1. Houston, We Have a Problem: North Carolina State stuns Houston in title game (1983)

Who can forget the iconic moment of seeing Lorenzo Charles slam the game-winner as the buzzer sounded and North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano running on the court in jubilation? The Wolfpack entered as the No. 6 seed and wouldn’t have made the national tourney without winning the ACC tournament. Charles’ dunk handed North Carolina State a 54-52 win over the highly favored Houston fraternity Phi Slama Jamma, which included future NBA stars Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.


Mark Schremmer has been a sports reporter since 2000 and has covered games at the professional, college and high school levels for The Topeka Capital-Journal and The Joplin Globe.

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