A History of Upsets

The craziness of March Madness has produced a 3, two 9s, and an 11 seed into the national quarterfinals, and that is only with four games remaining Friday.

Upsets have been abound this year, some of historic proportion. To put those into context, let’s take a look at some of the biggest upsets of all time.

No 16. UMBC beats No. 1 UVA

The most recent entry onto the list. Virginia, one of the favorites of this year’s tournament, will go down in infamy.

Top seeds went into the game 135-0 in Round of 64 games in tournament history. That record was put into question just hours earlier as Penn pushed Kansas, even getting a double-digit lead. The Jayhawks finally pulled it back, but the appetizer for the main course was set.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County Retrievers were lucky to go dancing, needing a late winner in the conference championship to make it. The feeling pregame was that the Retrievers would be good boys and lay down for the top seed.

And then they didn’t.

Jarius Lyles missed just two shots en route to 28 points. Three others had double digits while holding the Cavaliers to just four 3-pointers.

It was just the third loss for Virginia this year, and it couldn’t come from a more unlikely source.

The Miracle on Ice

The standard bearer for upsets for years. It was the four-time Olympic champions Soviet Union against a rag-tag group of college students from the U.S.

The expectation was that the Soviets would roll to the gold medal, beating the Americans 10-3 in an exhibition just weeks earlier.

The Soviets scored the opener, but the Americans responded not just once but twice in the first period. Trailing by one with 20 minutes to play, the Americans popped two onto the board to defeat the Soviets despite getting outshot by a 39-16 margin.

A victory over Finland secured gold for the Americans, their first since 1960.

No. 8 Villanova takes the national championship

Before there was Loyola-Chicago, Kansas State and Syracuse among others, there was Villanova in 1985, which also happens to be Loyola’s last Sweet 16 appearance.

‘Nova slumped into the tournament with a 5-5 mark in its final 10 games. But close wins early in the tournament turned into a 12-point win over North Carolina in the Elite 8 and seven-point win over Memphis State to punch the ticket to the title game.

There, the Georgetown Hoyas awaited. Georgetown had taken the pair of games in the regular season between the conference foes.

In a game of ball possession due to the lack of a shot clock, the Wildcats went 22-26 shooting in the game, including 9-10 in the second half.

Despite turning the ball over 17 times, Villanova hung on down the stretch, hitting late free throws to hold the lead and take the championship with the 66-64 win. As the No. 8 seed, it is the lowest seed ever to win the title.

Leicester City at 5,000-1

This is not an upset in the normal sense, as it took course over a full season. Just months after scraping enough points to stay up in the English Premier League, most tipped them to get relegated the next season.

Their odds of winning the title, as given by various bookmakers, were 5,000-1.

The Premier League was turned on its head as the normal big five, Manchester United and City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea, struggled.

That left the door open for the Foxes and another upstart, Tottenham, to break from the pack.

The whole team lived the dream under the management of Claudio Ranieri. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez knocked in 24 and 17 goals each. Mahrez took home Player of the Year honors for the year.

The Foxes lost just three matches on the march to the title and claimed it with two matches left for the first top-flight title in the club’s history.

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