There are a bunch of reasons to watch the NCAA Tournament – you love basketball, your alma mater is in it; you bet the family savings on it, or you simply don’t feel like working on Thursday of Friday afternoons for a few hours.
And then there are the upsets.
You might not have the faintest idea who’s on a perennial power seeded third in their bracket, but by god when the short guy and the kid with the mohawk from that 14 seed start making plays, you become their biggest fan ever.
Upsets make the tournament soar. They make it hum. They make it intimately fun to gamble on, which really might be why all of this is so important.
With the tournament just a couple of weeks away, here’s a look back at seven of the greatest updates in NCAA Tournament history.
Villanova 66, Georgetown 64, 1985 title game:
Georgetown had destroyed the far-more-impressive St. John’s squad in the semifinals which made a second straight title seem little more than a formality for Patrick Ewing and company. Instead, the Wildcats, seeded eighth, played the perfect game, shooting an outlandish 78.6% from the field in the upset.
North Carolina State 54, Houston 52, 1983 title game:
The Cougars’ Phi Slama Jama never produced a title, and this was the most painful of the near misses. The Cougars played four corners with a lead and lost it. With overtime a certainty, Lorenzo Charles caught a long errant three-point attempt by Tyler Whittenburg and dunked it home with no time remaining.
Santa Clara 64, Arizona 61, 1993 first round:
The Wildcats had been bounced by a 14 seed the year before and swaggered into the tournament led by Chris Mills, Khalid Reeves, and Damon Stoudamire as the No. 2 seed in the West. Santa Clara was nobody except for a freshman named Steve Nash. He’d make Arizona fans happy years later, but he was a thorn in the side this night.
George Mason 86, UConn 84, OT, 2006 East Regional Final:
This game was so fantastic that I remember exactly where I was – out with friends at The Dessert Bar in Houston – 11 years later. UConn sent it to overtime with a wild sequence that ended with a reverse layup at the buzzer, but Dale Brown missed a three-pointer to win it and the No. 1 seed in the tournament got shown the door by the 11th seed.
Princeton 43, UCLA 41, 1996 first round:
Playing fundamental offense and a ball-hawking defense, the Tigers completely took the defending champions out of their game, then won it on a backdoor give-and-go that Pete Carril had probably taught for 50 years.
Lehigh 75, Duke 70, 2012 first round:
Duke was playing in its backyard at Greensboro while Lehigh was just happy to be here. But future Portland Trail Blazer C.J. McCollum had a few words of his own, scoring 30 in a stunning upset.
Florida Gulf Coast 78, Georgetown 68, 2012 first round:
FGC stomped on the Hoya as Georgetown appeared to have never seen the give-and-go before.