The 10 Biggest Surprises in NCAA Tournament History


In the 70+ years that the NCAA Tournament has been taking place, there have been many moments that are simply unforgettable. We have compiled the best.

10. Tyus Edney’s Game-Winning Basket

Year: 1995

With 4.8 seconds on the clock, senior point guard Edney drove through the lane against the Missouri team that had his UCLA team on the ropes. By the sound of the buzzer, UCLA was advancing to the next round.

9. Webber’s Timeout

Year: 1993

It’s a general rule of thumb to not take timeouts that you don’t have. Some may say rules are meant to be broken, but not of this nature. It cost his team a berth in the national championship.

8. George Mason Reaches Final Four

Year: 2006

An underdog throughout their trek through the national tournament, it was upset after upset as the squad made their way to being one of the last four teams standing.

7. Keith Smart’s Game Winner

Year: 1987

One shot and Smart became a part of history. While he wasn’t too recognized at University of Indiana for much else, all it took was a 16-foot jumper to win the 1987 National Championship.

6. Michael Jordan’s Shot

Year: 1982

The Jordan/Ewing rivalry started early with Jordan’s North Carolina knocking off Ewing’s Georgetown in the national championship. Did we mention that Jordan hit the game winner?

5. Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson

Years: 1977 and 1979

Speaking of rivalries, the Bird/Johnson rivalry kicked off back in the college ranks as well. Larry Bird carried his team to an undefeated season, but Johnson got the best of him in the national championship.

4. Texas Western over Kentucky

Year: 1966

Breaking down the color barrier with a crash, the boys out of Texas Western upset the heavily favored Kentucky team in a National Championship game for the ages. 

3. Laettner Revives Duke

Year: 1992

It was the shot heard ’round the world as Christian Laettner rose up above defenders to launch a jumpshot from the free-throw line to upset Kentucky.

2. Villanova Upsets Georgetown

Year: 1985

Patrick Ewing really couldn’t catch a break in college, and unfortunately that carried over to his professional playing days. After being thwarted by Jordan, Ewing was once again thwarted by Villanova in 1985.

1. NC State Shocks Houston

Year: 1983

Not only were the Houston Cougars picked to win the title game in 1983, they started the game in perfect position to take it away. Long story short, it didn’t end that way, and the rest is history.

What are some of the most memorable surprises you think of in NCAA Tournament history?