NCAA Tournament: Notorious 15-seed over 2-seed Upsets in March Madness


March 17

Who doesn’t appreciate a Cinderella story? March Madness embodies what it is to be an underdog and allows small schools to seek out the same glory as the College Basketball juggernauts. With only a single 16-1 upset in history, the 15-2 upset is the peak and what we all should look forward to as sports fans. 

Fifteen-seed Princeton knocked off second-seed Arizona yesterday in a 59-56 thriller that set the tone for what should be an incredible 2023 March Madness. It was the first NCAA tournament win for Princeton since 1998. Yesterday marked the third consecutive year in which a 15-seed upset a two-seed, while Arizona became the only school in NCAA history to lose to a fifteen-seed twice. Let’s take a look back at some of the notorious fifteen-seed upsets.

1993: Santa Clara 

The Santa Clara Broncos, led by Steve Nash, took down Arizona in 1993 as -19.5 underdogs to become the second 15-seed in history to win a tournament game. They fell to Temple in the second round by double digits, but it was the world’s introduction to what would become one of the greatest point guards of all time.

1997: Coppin State 

Coppin State shocked the world with a 13-point upset of South Carolina in 1997 as a 17-point underdog. They nearly advanced to the Sweet 16 but fell by only a point to Texas in the Round of 32.

2013: Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast took down second-seeded Georgetown 78-68, then followed it up with an 81-71 victory over San Diego State to become the first 15-seed in history to reach the Sweet 16. They became known as “Dunk City” for their exhilarating style of play that captivated the national basketball audience before falling to Florida. 

2021: Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts took note of FGCU, becoming the second 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16 after they knocked off Ohio State and Florida. Their magic nearly continued as they only fell to Arkansas by a basket in the Sweet 16. Nonetheless, the small school from Tulsa, Oklahoma, became nationally known, but they couldn’t extend their magic with a 2023 March Madness defeat at the hands of Duke.

2022: Saint Peter’s

Does Saint Peter’s run need to be rehashed? They took the basketball world by storm with an incredible run that captivated basketball fans nationally. The Peacocks defeated Kentucky in the opening round in a thrilling game that needed overtime to decide the fate. Saint Peter’s then knocked off Murray State by double digits in the Round of 32 and took down Purdue in the Sweet 16 by three points to reach the Elite 8. That’s where they turned into a pumpkin and fell to North Carolina. It was a historic run, and now Princeton looks to make it three straight years where a fifteen-seed reached the Sweet 16. 

Thumbnail photo via Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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