The story of Cinderella may be a childhood favorite for many, but March Madness and its yearly barrage of glass-shoe upsets remains Cinderella’s personal favorite no matter how old she gets. Bronson Koenig’s buzzer-beating game-winner to carry Wisconsin into the Sweet 16 last week was only the latest nail-biting upset in a March Madness 2016 tournament overflowing with shockers thus far.
While there were technically 13 upsets in Round 32 games, a No. 9 beating a No. 8 has never been considered a true upset (three of those 13 upsets were No. 9s beating No. 8s – specifically Providence over Southern Cal, Butler over Texas Tech, and UConn over Colorado). But there were a bevy of other teams with lower rankings that rose to the occasion and made March Madness 2016 history with their fearless head-first dives into the record books.
Biggest Upsets of March Madness 2016..
Syracuse defeats Dayton
It was a coin flip as to whether Syracuse would even get the call for the tourney, and they came in ready to rumble when they finally got the nod. Operation Jim Boeheim was in full effect, as the Orange held No. 7-ranked Dayton to 32.1 percent from the floor. They would go on to enjoy a cake-walk second round matchup with fellow upsetter Middle Tennessee, who I’ll get to shortly.
Northern Iowa defeats Texas
As a No. 11 seed defeating a No. 6, Northern Iowa beating Texas wasn’t the biggest upset thus far. However, the fashion in which it went down is what keeps this game historically significant, as Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson hit a time-expiring three pointer from half-court to pull the win right out from under the unsuspecting legs of the Longhorns.. brilliantly.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 19, 2016
Wichita State defeats Arizona
Wichita State’s stout defense carried them to an upset over No. 6 Arizona, 65-55. Led by Fred VanVleet and his 14 points and five steals, another No. 11 seed was able to take down a No. 6. There’s seemingly a trend here, starting with sweaty coaches.
Gonzaga defeats Utah
Another bubble team that just barely earned a spot, Gonzaga – like Syracuse – took advantage of its opportunity against an unsuspecting Runnin’ Utes squad ranked a flashy No. 3. Gonzaga’s 82-59 win sent quite the message, as this hungry No. 11 team hoped to keep the moment going in the Sweet 16 against their thankful counterpart, Syracuse. According to ESPN, Gonzaga’s “23-point win tied the third-largest by a team seeded 11th or lower since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.”
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 20, 2016
Yale defeats Baylor
Thanks to Makai Mason and his career-high 31 points, including six of Yale’s final nine points, the No. 12 seed Bulldogs held on to beat No. 5 Baylor, 79-75. Yale also out-rebounded Baylor 36-32, sparking perhaps the oddest and greatest postgame question and explanation of all time..
Solid explanation. pic.twitter.com/nxbXR2lEeo
— Matt Schick (@ESPN_Schick) March 17, 2016
Hawaii defeats Cal
No. 4 seed Cal was without top player Tyrone Wallace, and it fired an assistant coach for sexual harassment, so the Golden Bears couldn’t have been feeling confident entering their March Madness 2016 Round 32 game against No. 13 Hawaii. Hawaii took advantage with a 77-66 victory for their first NCAA tourney win EVER.
Little Rock defeats Purdue
Little Rock overcame a 14-point deficit with five minutes left to force overtime thanks to a game-tying three from UALR guard Josh Hagins, who was far-and-away the star of the game – scoring 31 points, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out five assists, and recording five steals to become the first player in NCAA Tournament history to finish a game with at least 30 points, five rebounds, five assists, and five steals.
Arkansas Little Rock locker room celebration. pic.twitter.com/dyt4jZIMq7
— Michael Shamburger (@mshamburger1) March 17, 2016
Stephen F. Austin defeats West Virginia
Thanks to hipster lumberjack Thomas Walkup and his 33 points, the No. 14 Lumberjacks (total coincidence in the name there) miraculously took down the No. 3 Mountaineers. WVU’s 22 turnovers certainly didn’t help their cause.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) March 21, 2016
Middle Tennessee State defeats Michigan State
To the untrained eye, No. 15 Middle Tennessee State taking down tournament-favorite Michigan State in March Madness 2016 would seem like a lock to end up on the biggest upsets of all time list (this was only the eighth time a No. 15 beat a No. 2). But considering Spartans Player of the Year candidate Denzel Valentine was nonexistent and the Blue Raiders shot an otherworldly 57.90 percent from behind the arc, this was more of a miraculously unsustainable outlier than a sign of things to come. Statistically, this was the third biggest tournament upset ever, per Nate Silver.
Texas A&M defeats Northern Iowa
Northern Iowa was up by 12 with 34 seconds remaining in regulation, yet became victim to an insanely unbelievable comeback. As LeBron James so eloquently noted shortly after, “If I was on Northern Iowa, I would quit” – an approach he proved he was worthy of his first time around in Cleveland.