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3 Memorable Upsets in the history of March Madness, the NCAA Tournament

Bracket Pool of the NCAA Tournament

A large part of the allure of the NCAA Tournament is the bracket. Trying to win your bracket pool is made challenging because this event is littered with upsets.

That is the charm. When Davids’ topple Goliaths, interest heightens and legends are born. Here is a look at three of the biggest in NCAA Tournament history.

3 Memorable Upsets in the history of March Madness, the NCAA Tournament
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images/AFP

Houston came into the 1983 final with the Phi Slama Jama tag all over it. The Cougars were led by future NBA legends and Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

North Carolina State entered the championship with 10 losses and was given little chance to topple the dominant Cougars, who were 31-2 and on a 26-game winning streak.

However, the Wolfpack had an inspirational coach in Jim Valvano, who was able to dictate the tempo.

The contest came down to a final shot … on that didn’t quite reach the rim. Derreck Whittenburg’s 30-footer was corralled by Lorenzo Charles, who dunked the ball home to give North Carolina State a 54-52 upset that sent Valvano running all over the court.

Olajuwon was named MOP of the Final Four with 41 points, 40 rebounds and 15 blocked shots. A rarity for a player on a team that did not win the title to earn that honor.

Villanova shocks Georgetown and the basketball world

If there were a more charming run in March Madness than Villanova’s in 1985, it would be hard to define.

The Wildcats worked their way through the bracket and made it to the Final Four. They weren’t given much of a chance against Memphis in the semifinal. The Tigers’ fans were so confident about a berth in the title game they were seen looking to try and gain the Villanova fans’ hotel rooms before the schools met.

However, Rollie Massimino and Villanova took out Memphis. And then awaited John Thompson, Patrick Ewing and top-ranked Georgetown, which was 35-2 and the losses were by a total of three points to Big East foes St. John’s and Syracuse.

Villanova would have to play a perfect game to win the title and the Wildcats came close. They hit 78% of their shots (22-of-28), including 9-of–10 in the second half.

In the end, the final score was Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 and legends were made, just not the ones that people expected.

UMBC upsets Virginia

A 16-seed had never – repeat never – downed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. And then 2018 happened.

The UMBC Retrievers faced ACC juggernaut Virginia, which entered 31-2 and the top seed in the entire tournament.

Virginia was expected to dispose of UMBC, which was 25-10. The No. 1 seeds would go to 136-0, right? Wrong.

UMBC was a 20.5-point underdog. The Retrievers wound up winning the game by 20, crushing the Cavaliers, 74-54.

The game was tight at halftime but UMBC went on a couple of big runs early in the second half to break the game open. Overall, the Retrievers outscored the Cavaliers, 53-33, in the final 20 minutes.

And suddenly No. 16 seeds were 1-135 against No. 1 seeds.

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