Roundtable – Best upset in NCAA Tournament history?

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Nevada forward Jordan Caroline (24) reacts to hitting a 3-pointer against Loyola-Chicago forward Aundre Jackson during the first half of an NCAA men’s college basketball tournament regional semifinal Thursday, March 22, 2018, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

History was made last week when the No. 16 seed UMBC Retrievers took down the No. 1 overall Virginia Cavaliers, the first time a 16-seed has ever beaten a No. 1 seed since expansion of the NCAA Tournament to 64 teams in 1985. Twitter was all over it and hailed the upset as the greatest of all time, given the magnitude of the Retrievers’ win, but there are some other really incredible upsets in the tournament’s history. The DC Sports section discusses UMBC’s big win and some other all-time great upsets in this edition of the Roundtable.

Story Salit – Campus Correspondent

Although 16-seed UMBC’s 20-point win over top-seeded Virginia was shocking and impressive, FGCU’s win as a 15-seed over Georgetown in 2013 was a bigger upset in my opinion for several reasons. The Eagles, winners of the Atlantic Sun Conference, were only in their sixth season as a Division I team and were representing a school that was only 22 years old. Meanwhile, the Hoyas were fresh off winning the Big East (yes, the good ol’ Big East) regular season title and boasted a roster led by star guard Markel Starks and Otto Porter. Not only did FGCU pull off the upset, but they did so in style, earning the name “Dunk City” in the process, putting their little-known school on the national map. Also, while UMBC bowed out in the second round in an ugly game against Kansas State, FGCU was able to post another impressive win over seven-seed San Diego State to reach the Sweet 16.

Zachary Lane – Campus Correspondent

Maybe not the biggest tournament upset ever, the one that stands out to me is the 2012 2-seed Lehigh over 15-seed Duke upset. Looking back at the box score now is funny. Duke’s starting lineup featured four future NBA players: the Plumlee brothers Miles and Mason, Steph Curry’s younger brother Seth and Austin Rivers (fully equipped with his still-to-this-day tunnel vision). On Lehigh’s side, they had only one future NBA player, but that was all that mattered since he’s now probably better than all of Duke’s guys combined. CJ McCollum went for 30 points in that fateful upset – fitting, because he’s spent his NBA career proving he’s better than other more highly touted players. CJ and this Lehigh win hold a special place in my heart.

Matt Severino – Campus Correspondent

There are a handful of events in sports that have never happened. And one of them just did.  For the first time in 136 attempts, a 16-seed has finally defeated a 1-seed. How UMBC’s upset over Virginia, the No. 1 overall seed nonetheless, in this year’s March Madness Tournament isn’t automatically the biggest upset in the events history is puzzling. The Retrievers were 22-and-a-half point underdogs in a game that some don’t even think is worth playing, let alone watching. It would have been one thing if Virginia lost on a last second shot, but the Cavaliers lost by an unfathomable 20 points. It wasn’t even a game in the second half. Virginia looked as if they were the 16-seed and had rolled belly up. The history behind the 1-16 matchup automatically etches UMBC’s name into the history books, but it was the manner in which they defied the odds that will stick with fans of the game.


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