The All-Time Biggest Upsets of the NCAA Tournaments First Round


The All-Time Biggest Upsets of the NCAA Tournaments First Round

The 2023 NCAA Tournament delivered perhaps the biggest upset in the history of the event when 16th-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson knocked out 1st-seeded Purdue in the first round. Upsets have always been part of March’s madness, but now it looks like the team with increasingly high odds is doing the impossible. Joining the Big Dance for technical reasons and being the smallest team in Division I, the Knights overtook the Boilermakers to record the biggest upset in tournament history in points.

FDU wasn’t the first 16th seed to beat a No.1 seed, but the short list of teams that have pulled off such a miracle like this makes it seem impossible. In fact, short enough to compile such excitement into such a tight list. These types of events are what make the NCAA tournament as popular as it is. Without the crazy upsets, March Madness wouldn’t be so Mad. Occasionally, there will be games at the start of the bracket that people wouldn’t expect. The 16th seed beating the 16th seed has only occurred twice since the start of the tournament in 1939.

5. (15) Santa Clara Defeats (2) Arizona (64-61)

-March 18, 1993

A young Steve Nash came off the bench during this game and put up a solid 10 points and 7 rebounds. While he did not lead his dead to victory Pete Eisenrich did. Scoring 18 points, leading the way for Santa Clara despite a wild finish to come out with the W. Arizona had a tough press but Santa Clara shot good enough behind the ark to hold on. 

4. (15) Saint Peters defeats (2) Kentucky (85-79)

-March 17, 2022

 Overtime thriller was the 10th-ever instance where a No. 15 seed beat a No.2 seed. Saint Peter’s got a combined 47 points from the 2 starting guards Daryl Banks lll and Doug Edert. This was the first-ever NCAA Tournament victory for Saint Peter’s a private school with around 3,500 students.

3. (15) Lehigh defeats (2) Duke (75-70)

-March 16, 2012

This year Duke had eight future NBA prospects and looked due for a deep run. Lehigh, who was led by future NBA star C.J. McCollum dropped 30 points. This was the first time Duke was kicked out of the first round since 2007. Leigh held on throughout the first half and then held onto a small lead down the stretch to secure the dub.

 2. (16) UMBC defeats (1) Virginia (74-54)

-March 16, 2018

One of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Not just because the lowest seed in the tournament beat the highest seed, but the score. In the past, nearly all of the 15 seeds that have won did so by the smallest margin. UMBC was dominant the whole second half. UMBC dropped 53 points in the second half, almost the same amount Virginia scored the whole game. Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed.

 1. (16) Fairleigh Dickinson defeats (1) Purdue, 63-58

-March 17, 2023

For decades, no 16 seed was able to upset the No. 1. Now it has happened twice in the span of five years. While UMBC will always be the first to ever upset the one seed, there and still more factors to prove that Fairleigh Dickinson’s wins over the No. 1 seed Purdue are more historically significant. FDU’s first-round upset was the biggest in NCAA history. It was the biggest upset by spread(23 points). The knights of FDU were ranked dead last in Division 1 basketball. Seven foot-four was a very undersized team compared to Purdue. Purdue has seven foot four Zach Edey, while FDU’s tallest player is one six foot seven player.