|When underdogs dance|
Page 2 staff
You're busy filling out your bracket and we're sure you are scrupulously studying those tight No. 8 vs. No. 9 games, and those tricky No. 5 vs. No. 12 match-ups. Careful now, don't write-off early exits from perennial powers. It's March, anything can happen.
What? You don't think Sam Houston State can oust the Gators? Think twice, after all, weirder things have happened.
Have a look at at our list of the greatest upsets in men's NCAA tournament history. Then vote in the poll to crown the biggest shocker of all time.
State had lost 10 regular season games, and nobody expected them to get to the Elite Eight, much less the championship game. But the Wolfpack was on a postseason roll, having won the ACC tournament and then advancing past Pepperdine, Virginia, and Georgia in tight games. Now they had the opportunity to face Houston's Akeem Olajuwon and the Phi Slamma Jamma gang.
The top-ranked Cougars were cocky, and had reason to be. "We figure the team with the most dunks will win," predicted Olajuwon.
If only it was so easy. NC State led at the half, and overcame a 17-2 run by Houston at the start of the second half to tie the game at 52 with two minutes left. The Wolfpack then fouled freshman guard Alvin Franklin, who missed the front end of a one-and-one. State rebounded and held the ball for the last shot, but the final play went awry, and Dereck Whittenburg -- who'd sunk two straight to tie the game -- missed a desperation 30-footer. As it fell far short of the rim, Lorenzo Charles went up, grabbed it, and slammed it in with one second left for an amazing Wolfpack win.
2. Villanova beats Georgetown for championship (1985)
But it wasn't.
The Wildcats led 29-28 at the half, and then played a nearly flawless second half, missing only one shot from the field. Villanova won, 66-64, by shooting 78 percent against the best defensive team in the nation.
How great was 'Nova on that April Fool's day in Lexington? After the game, they were applauded by their stunned opponents. "Any time you shoot that percentage you deserve the praise," said Georgetown coach John Thompson. "You couldn't get much better."
3. Princeton eliminates UCLA (1996)
4. Texas Western defeats Kentucky for title (1966)
5. Boston College over No. 1 UNC in round two (1994)
6. Canisius stuns NC State, 79-78 (1956)
7. Repeat for the Rebs? Duke just says no. National Semifinal (1991)
8. Santa Clara beats Arizona, clobbers the spread (1993)
One of the imports: Steve Nash.
The unexpected win didn't come without consequences. The Broncos were almost thrown out of their hotel, which was fully booked with folks who were supposed to remain in Salt Lake. And there was the national media.
"My wife wasn't too thrilled," said Broncos coach Dick Davey. "I had about 15 phone calls from reporters before 8 o'clock. Jiminy Christmas, I didn't know there were that many radio stations out there."
It was the second straight year that Arizona had been ousted in the first round in a huge upset. In 1992, the victors had been 14th seed East Tennessee State.
9. Little Rock ousts the Irish (1986)
Astounding on the court? Sure. But UALR coach Mike Newell, surrounded by the media after the game, wanted to let everyone know that this team was smart. ''The average grades of our players now is 2.3. When I got here, it was something like a 0.8.''
10. LSU beats Kentucky, advances to the Final Four (1986)
But in the tourney, they scored three straight upsets -- over Purdue, Memphis State, and Georgia Tech. Then they beat Kentucky 59-57 at the Omni in Atlanta, effectively using "The Freak," a deceptive defense devised by Dale Brown -- and became the lowest seed ever to make it to the Final Four.
Billy Packer wrote that Brown did one of the "greatest coaching jobs in history," in getting his decimated team to the semis.