March Madness is made for spectacular upsets. It seems that at least once per year we witness some unheralded program nobody has ever heard of knock off a perennial powerhouse.
Whether it’s Northwestern State coming back from a 17-point deficit to beat Iowa in 2006, VCU cruising past top-ranked Kansas in 2011 or Lehigh beating Duke in what was basically a road game in 2012, nothing is more exciting and profitable than the underdog story.
That got us to thinking, what were the biggest upsets in March Madness history according to the listed spreads. Our database goes back until the 1996 season, a tournament that features such legendary players as Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and Marcus Camby. We dug through the hundreds of games and found the biggest betting upsets in the past 21 years of the NCAAB Tournament.
The biggest upset belongs to the 2012 Norfolk State Spartans. The 2012 MEAC champions toppled the Mizzou Tigers, who owned the sixth-ranked scoring offense in the nation, 86-84 despite closing as 21-point dogs. As Norfolk State’s star player, Kyle O’Quinn, said after the game, “We messed up some brackets!”
The most recent upset to make the list came just last season, as the No. 15 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders toppled the No. 2 Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State was a trendy pick to win the national championship in 2016, but a terrible afternoon from Denzel Valentine ultimately doomed the 16.5-point faves.
|Date||Underdog||Favorite||Closing Spread||Final Score|
|March 16, 2012||Norfolk St||Mizzou||-/+ 21.0||86-84 Norfolk St|
|March 14, 1997||Coppin St||South Carolina||-/+ 19.0||78-65 Coppin St|
|March 15, 2001||Hampton||Iowa State||-/+ 17.5||58-57 Hampton|
|March 18, 2016||Middle Tennessee||Michigan St||-/+ 16.5||90-81 M. Tennessee|
|March 11, 1999||Weber St||UNC||-/+ 15.0||76-74 Weber St|
|March 18, 2010||Ohio||Georgetown||-/+ 14.0||97-83 Ohio|
|March 19, 2015||UAB||Iowa State||-/+ 14.0||60-59 UAB|
|March 18, 2005||Bucknell||Kansas||-/+ 13.5||64-63 Bucknell|
|March 21, 2002||Indiana||Duke||-/+ 13.5||74-73 Indiana|
|March 22, 2013||Florida Gulf Coast||Georgetown||-/+ 13||78-68 Florida Gulf Coast|