The 2023 NCAA Tournament produced arguably the biggest upset in the event’s history with 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson stunning 1-seed Purdue in the first round. Upsets have always been a part of March Madness, but now teams with longer and longer odds seem to be doing the impossible. The Knights, who got into the Big Dance on a technicality and were the smallest team in Division I, outmuscled the Boilermakers to pull off the biggest upset by point spread in tourney history.
While FDU was not the first 16 seed to take down a 1 seed, the list of such teams to pull off the seemingly impossible is fairly short. So short, in fact, that you can compile such upsets into a tight list. Those outcomes are a huge part of what makes the NCAA Tournament so great. Without them, March Madness would be less mad. Every once in a while, a game comes along early in the tournament and unfolds how few would predict. Of course, there’s the Holy Grail — a No. 16 seed beating a No. 1 seed, something that has now only occurred twice.
Even if the early upsets ruin your bracket, it’s still exhilarating.
Below are the 10 craziest, most bracket-busting upsets the first weekend of the tournament has ever produced.
March 14, 1997
Coppin State’s depth was a huge reason for this upset. The Eagles bench outscored the Gamecocks’ reserves 40-17. Danny Singletary led the way with 22 points. Two Coppin State starters didn’t even score in 10 minutes of playing time and neither team shot well from beyond the arc. Coppin State was 2 of 13 and South Carolina hit 4 of 20 from beyond the arc. Coppin State jumped ahead late in the game after trailing throughout, but down the stretch they looked like a team that had been leading all day. Coppin State just looked faster than South Carolina, and went to the line 34 times to South Carolina’s 16. It was a huge upset of the SEC champs and an abrupt end to their first tournament appearance since 1989.
March 14, 1991
Once again, we get to the first time one of these major upsets occurred. The Richmond Spiders were making their fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse, on the other hand, was making its ninth in a row under Jim Boeheim. The Orange had better scorers — and it showed — with Billy Owens leading everyone with 22 points. Bench play, a running theme on this list, was the difference. Syracuse got just three points from its reserves and Richmond was able…
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