March Madness upsets always manage to capture, as the kids say, “all the feels.”
For the school that pulls off the upset, there’s no feeling quite like it. It’s one thing if you’re a national-powerhouse school like Duke, Kentucky, or Kansas winning a first-round game—they’re supposed to do that. But for schools like Hampton, Santa Clara, and Middle Tennessee, a first-round win is often akin to winning a national championship for those players and fans, as anyone who attended a small school can tell you.
For the team that loses, there’s also nothing quite like it. When you’re a team headlined by future NBA Draft lottery picks, going up against guys who are probably never going to play a minute of professional basketball in their lives, you have to take care of business. And when you don’t, you let millions of people down—particularly the people who faithfully included you in their March Madness brackets.
There’s nothing more infuriating than watching a team you put money on lose to some small school nobody has even heard of. Very few people ever predict a No. 15 seed knocking off a No. 2, so while it might be cool to see Lehigh beat Duke (and to see Duke lose, for many people), that kind of upset is going to make a dent in a lot of people’s brackets. The possibility of something like that happening is what makes a perfect bracket virtually unattainable.
It’s safe to say we’ll see at least one obscure school get its 15 minutes of fame in this year’s NCAA Tournament, and about a million brackets will suffer as a result. But that’s what makes March Madness great: the unpredictability. Infuriating, but great.
And speaking of unpredictability, let’s look back at some of the least predictable games to ever take place: here are the 50 greatest upsets in March Madness history.