The 2018 March Madness Tournament is full of excitement as many upsets continue to shock fans and shake up brackets. Some surprising underdogs are coming out of the woodwork, beating many high-seeded teams. Here are some of the most exciting upsets, ranked.
1. UMBC (16) beats Virginia (1)
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) took down Virginia, the number one ranked team in the country, with a startling score of 74 – 54 in the first round. This is the first time a No. 16 seed won against a No. 1 seed in the history of the NCAA tournament, which began in 1939.
Both teams went into halftime with 21 points each, giving the UMBC Retrievers hope against the strong No. 1 seed. Virginia’s defensive struggles following halftime ultimately led to their loss as UMBC pulled ahead.
Jairus Lyles led the UMBC Retrievers during the second half, scoring 23 points. Lyles said “I don’t think there was a point in the game that we thought we couldn’t play with them, we thought we could play with them coming into the game. Tying up with them at half definitely gave us more confidence.”
This upset flipped many March Madness brackets upside down, as many people chose Virginia to win the whole tournament. However, UMBC did not continue with the momentum built from this historic win; they lost to the No. 9 seed, Kansas State in the second round.
2. Loyola-Chicago (11) beats Tennessee (3)
Loyola’s success in a surprising victory against Tennessee is one of many exciting wins for the Ramblers. By upsetting many teams left and right, Loyola is considered this year’s “Cinderella story” in the NCAA tournament.
The exciting journey began in the first round with their win over No. 6 seed Miami, then No. 3 Tennessee in the second round, then another victory over No. 7 seed Nevada in the Sweet Sixteen and finally beating No. 9 Kansas State in the Elite Eight to advance to the Final Four.
The win against Tennessee sent the Loyola Ramblers to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1985, which was also the last time the Ramblers even participated in the March Madness tournament. This upset is Loyola’s most important, as it is the highest-seeded team that they have beaten, so far; fueling the momentum for the Ramblers to continue winning games.
The Ramblers are definitely a team to watch out for as the tournament continues. Loyola is in the Final Four, along with No. 3 seed the University of Michigan and No. 1 seeds Villanova and Kansas. Loyola is the fourth No. 11 seed ever to make it to the Final Four.
3. FSU (9) beats Xavier (1)
Xavier held the lead over Florida State University (FSU) for most of the game, up until the last five minutes of the second half. The FSU Seminoles won by five points with the final score ultimately coming to 75 – 70.
The final few minutes of the game were crucial for the Seminole’s victory as Xavier struggled with six turnovers in the last five and half minutes. FSU’s win against Xavier “feels like sweet revenge,” according to FSU player Terance Mann after Xavier beat Florida State in last year’s tournament, 91 – 66.
This tricky victory over a top team gave the Seminoles a quick confidence boost and put them on a roll to advance to upset No. 4 Gonzaga 75 – 60 in the Sweet Sixteen. FSU’s hot-streak ended when Michigan beat them by only four points in the Elite Eight.
4. Nevada (7) beats Cincinnati (2)
The Nevada Wolf Pack made a huge comeback in the final 11 minutes of the game. The No. 7 seed was down by 22 points, but somehow managed to pull themselves into the lead during the final 9.1 seconds. The team’s only lead during the whole game was during these final seconds, following Josh Hall’s basket to put the Wolf Pack in the lead and end the game at 75 – 73.
This is Nevada’s second time advancing to the Sweet Sixteen, ever. The team’s comeback was led by Cody Martin, who scored 25 points in the game. The Cincinnati Bear Cats didn’t score in the last 5 minutes and 45 seconds of the game, while Nevada scored 32 points in the final 11 minutes, making a dramatic comeback.
Eric Musselman, the coach for Nevada, was thrilled, saying, “That locker room right now… I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It’s the happiest I’ve ever been in my life!” Nevada lost in the Sweet Sixteen to underdog No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago, 69 – 68.
5. Texas A&M (7) beats North Carolina (2)
The Texas A&M Aggies shockingly triumphed over the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Aggies defeated the reigning March Madness champs by over 20 points, finishing the game at 86 – 65. North Carolina was another team whose loss shook up many March Madness Brackets.
North Carolina’s coach, Roy Williams, addressed how unpredictable the March Madness tournament and college basketball can be, saying “We got beat by a team that played better than we did… I didn’t picture it ending like this. I pictured it ending with these guys having a huge smile on their face, but that’s not college basketball.”
However, Texas A&M’s exciting victory was short-lived; they lost in the Sweet Sixteen to the University of Michigan.
6. Syracuse (11) beats MSU (3)
The Syracuse Orange began their NCAA tournament in the First Four, taking the final spot on the bracket. Barely getting into the tournament, Syracuse continued on to beat two teams, yet both seeded higher than them.
Syracuse won 57 – 52 against No. 6 TCU in the first round, sending Orange on to face Michigan State in the second round. Syracuse used their well-known strong zone defense to force the MSU Spartans to shoot, and miss, more 3-pointers than the team is typically used to.
The tough defense pushed Syracuse into winning against MSU in yet another close game 55 – 53. The Orange’s victory over MSU busted many brackets, as many people picked the Spartans to advance to the Final Four.