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How many 15 seeds have won in March Madness? History of 15-2 upsets, statistics for NCAA Tournament


march madness 15 seed upsets

For the primary 25 years or so of the expanded bracket period of the NCAA Tournament — when the sector expanded to 64 groups for the 1985 event — the concept of selecting a 15 seed to upend a 2 seed was fairly loopy. It occurred, on occasion.

Now, although? Picking a 15-over-2 remains to be daring, however not loopy. More on that in a second. 

You in all probability will likely be tempted to make one of these picks this 12 months. After all, a 16 seed lastly beat a No. 1 seed (sorry for bringing that up, Virginia followers), so something actually is feasible. And in the return of the NCAA Tournament, after a 12 months off through the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t all of us actually anticipate loopy stuff to occur? 

Here’s an entire breakdown of the historical past of 15 vs. 2 upsets in the NCAA Tournament, together with probably the most memorable underdog runs and essential numbers to know whereas filling out your March Madness bracket.

MORE: Ranking the top 80 upsets in March Madness history

History of 15 seed vs. 2 seed upsets in NCAA Tournament

Only eight No. 15 seeds have ever won a first-round recreation in the NCAA Tournament, however 4 of these video games — two in the identical 12 months! — have occurred in the previous decade, and there’s a key purpose for that surge. Heading into the 1991 NCAA Tournament, a handful of No. 14 seeds had pulled off shockers, however No. 15 Richmond’s epic upset of No. 2 seed Syracuse in 1991 simply may be the primary really gorgeous I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened first-round upset.

Steve Nash — future two-time NBA MVP — led Santa Clara to the second 15-over-2 upset two years later, and coach Fang Mitchell’s Fifteenth-seeded Coppin State squad upended South Carolina in 1997. Hampton turned the fourth 15 seed to win, in 2001, after which there was a niche of greater than a decade. 

On the identical day of the 2012 event, two — TWO! — No. 15 seeds won first-round video games. Norfolk State knocked off Mizzou, after which a pair hours later, Lehigh upended Duke in Greensboro, N.C., simply an hour away from the Blue Devils’ campus. Then it occurred once more in 2013 (Florida Gulf Coast) and once more in 2016 (Middle Tennessee). So what sparked that change? Look to the First Four. 

The NCAA Tournament expanded from 64 groups to 68 groups for the 2011 event, including 4 extra at-large groups and introducing the First Four video games. Under that new setup, out of the blue there have been SIX groups on the No. 16 seed line — the groups with total seeds 65, 66, 67 and 68 play for the fitting to face the No. 1 seed — which suggests two groups that will have, in the pre-2011 event, been 15 seeds had been out of the blue 16 seeds. And two groups that will have been 14 seeds turned 15 seeds, and so forth and so forth. See how that raised the standard of the groups on the again finish of the seed checklist? 

That’s how Lehigh — that includes future NBA star C.J. McCollum — performed as a 15 seed and upset Duke in 2012. And that’s how Middle Tennessee State, an excellent, veteran workforce was a 15 seed regardless of ending second in C-USA in the common season and successful the automated bid with a event title for the convention ranked twentieth of 32 leagues in KenPom’s scores. Before the enlargement, no means groups of that caliber would have wound up on the 15 seed line. 


Year Winner Loser Score
1991 Richmond Syracuse 73-69
1993 Santa Clara Arizona 64-61
1997 Coppin State South Carolina 78-65
2001 Hampton Iowa State 58-57
2012 Lehigh Duke 75-70
2012 Norfolk State Missouri 86-84
2013 Florida Gulf Coast Georgetown 78-68
2016 Middle Tennessee Michigan State 90-81

MORE: The 14 most humiliating first-round chokes in Big Dance history

15 seeds vs. 2 seeds by the numbers

  • 8-132: Record for 15 seeds vs. No. 2 seeds
  • 5.7 %: Overall successful proportion for 15 seeds since 1985
  • 3.8 %: Winning proportion for 15 seeds in 64-team period (1985-2010)
  • 11.1 %: Winning proportion for 15 seeds since enlargement to 68 groups in 2011
  • 13: Largest margin of victory for a 15 seed; Coppin State over South Carolina (78-65)
  • 1: Smallest margin of victory for a 15 seed; Hampton over Iowa State (58-57) 
  • 0: Buzzer-beater wins for 15 seeds
  • 1: 15 seeds to win at the very least two video games

Has a 15 seed ever won March Madness?

You already know the reply to this one. No, a 15 seed has by no means won the NCAA Tournament. And we’ll exit on a limb right here and say it’s by no means going to occur. But that doesn’t imply 15 seeds haven’t impacted the March Madnesst. Who can overlook the magical run of Florida Dunk Coast — err, Florida Gulf Coast — into into the second weekend of the 2013 NCAA Tournament?

The high-flying Eagles destroyed Georgetown in the opening spherical — they led by 19 factors halfway by means of the second half — after which beat No. 6 seed San Diego State in the second spherical by 10 factors. That victory made FGCU the primary 15 seed in NCAA Tournament historical past to make the Sweet 16; Coppin State narrowly missed out in 1993, shedding its second-round recreation to Texas, 82-81. 

The different six 15 seeds to advance? They misplaced their second-round video games by a median of 19.3 factors.

MORE: March Madness Cinderella players we’ll never forget

Lowest seed to win the NCAA Tournament

Since the event expanded to 64 groups in 1985, we’ve seen 5 double-digit seeds attain the Final Four:

  • 11 seed LSU in 1986
  • 11 seed George Mason in 2006
  • 11 seed VCU in 2011
  • 10 seed Syracuse in 2016
  • 11 seed Loyola Chicago in 2018

All 4 misplaced earlier than reaching the title recreation. Only 4 groups seeded decrease than the No. 3 seed line have ever won the nationwide title: one 4 seed (Arizona in 1997), one 6 seed (Kansas in 1988), one seven seed (UConn in 2014) and one 8 seed (Villanova in 1985). No 5 seed has ever won. The Villanova story is the stuff of legend; a plucky, methodical 8 seed that reached the title recreation by grinding out a sequence of slim wins (three by three factors or fewer) and dealing with off in opposition to the may Georgetown Hoyas in the championship recreation.

It’s thought-about by some as the largest upset in NCAA Tournament historical past. But right here’s the factor: It makes for an incredible David and Goliath story, however Villanova was fairly darn good. In the 1985 and 1986 NBA Drafts, three starters from that 1985 workforce went in the highest 30 picks (Ed Pinckney at 10 and Dwayne McClain at 27 in 1985 and Harold Pressley at 17 in 1986; Gary McLain went in the seventh spherical in 1985). Factor in that Villanova had already performed Georgetown robust TWICE that 12 months — losses by solely two factors and 7 factors — and, sorry, it would not make for a top-five all-time upset. 


It does, although, make for a fairly cool championship story. 



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