Has a No. 16 seed ever won an NCAA tournament game? What about a No. 15 seed?
Thursday, March 16 marked the fifth anniversary of what used to be the only victory by a men’s 16 seed in a non-play-in NCAA tournament game.
On Friday, No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson cemented its place in March Madness lore, defeating Purdue 63-58 to become only the second team in NCAA men’s basketball tournament history to beat a top-seeded team.
Fairleigh Dickinson, the shortest team in NCAA tournament history, was coming off a loss to Merrimack in the Northeast Conference tournament final. FDU likely only made the tournament because Merrimack was barred from playing in the tournament as it continues its four-year transition from Division II.
Fairleigh Dickinson became the second No. 16 seed in NCAA tournament history to defeat a No. 1 seed, shocking Purdue 63-58 on Friday night.
University of Maryland Baltimore County became the first team to achieve the feat in 2018, not only upsetting top-seeded Virginia, but disposing of the Cavs in a fashion that most of the previous 132 top seeds had eliminated 16 seeds. The game was tied 21-21 at halftime, but UMBC — behind 23 second-half points by Jairus Lyles — dominated the final 20 minutes in a 74-54 rout, Virginia’s most lopsided loss of the season.
The Retrievers nearly didn’t reach the tournament at all, needing a last-second three-pointer by Lyles to defeat Vermont in the America East championship game. UMBC fell to Kansas State in the second round 50-43.
There have been a handful of near-upsets of top seeds in the opening round, most notably in 1989, when Princeton and East Tennessee State both lost by a point in the opening round, to Georgetown and Oklahoma, respectively. A year later, Murray State pushed Michigan State to overtime, ultimately losing 75-71.
March Madness is upon us. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2023 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
The 15 seed has enjoyed slightly more luck in the opening round since the tournament went to a 64-team field in 1985, winning 10 times, most recently on Thursday, when Princeton shocked Arizona, 59-55.
UMBC and Fairleigh Dickison aren’t the only 16 seeds to win an NCAA basketball tournament game. In 1998, the Harvard women’s basketball team shocked Stanford 71-67 in the opening round. The Crimson remain the only women’s team to have pulled off the 16-1 upset.
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