Could it happen again? No one expected Auburn, a No. 5 seed, to be in this year’s Final Four. The same holds true for Texas Tech, a No. 3 seed. Neither is favored to win their semifinal matchup. If either team could pull off a victory, the upset would likely qualify as one of the biggest in Final Four history. Here are the four biggest upsets in the history of the Final Four.
The 2014 Connecticut Huskies UConn basketball had a long tradition of winning and had won NCAA titles in 1999, 2004, and 2011. The 2014 team though was not special in any particular way. Legendary UConn head coach Jim Calhoun had retired a few years prior and new coach Kevin Ollie’s team began the 2013-14 season ranked No. 18 in the polls.
When the Huskies lost 81-48 in their regular season finale to Louisville, no one believed this could be a national championship caliber team. Instead, UConn entered the tourney a No. 7 seed and proceeded to beat four consecutive AP Top 11 teams (Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State, and Florida) before beating unranked Kentucky 60-54 for the national championship.
Duke’s First (1991) It’s hard to believe but prior to 1991 Duke had never won a national championship. Just a year prior, the Blue Devils did make it to the national final. They fell victim to the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV and lost by 30 points. A year later, they would have to get by UNLV in the national semifinals to have a shot at a title. The Rebels had won 45 games in a row and were unbeaten when Duke’s Christian Laettner hit two free throws with 12 seconds remaining to give the Blue Devils a 79-77 victory. It was a game Duke was not supposed to win, but they did and beat Kansas two nights later to win their first-ever national championship.
Survive & Advance 1983 Coached by Jim Valvano, the N.C. State Wolfpack was ranked in the Top 20 as the 1982-83 season began. When the regular season came to an end in early March, the Wolfpack were just 17-10. Making the NCAA tournament – which had been expanded from 48 to 52 teams for 1983 – was a long shot.
For Valvano and his players, the easiest way to make it to the NCAA tournament was to win the ACC tourney and gain the conference’s automatic bid. N.C. State would beat Wake Forest, No. 5 North Carolina, and No. 2 Virginia to win the ACC tournament title.
With an automatic bid in hand, the Wolfpack faced Pepperdine in their opening game of the NCAA tournament. Not a college basketball power, Pepperdine went toe-to-toe with N.C. State and the Wolfpack needed overtime to beat the Waves 69-67. Valvano and company would record one-point wins over UNLV (71-70) and Virginia (63-62), the fourth meeting of the season with the Cavaliers.
The Wolfpack were to have no chance against Phi Slamma Jamma and Houston in the national championship game. It game down an errant 35-foot jumper by senior guard Dereck Whittenburg. The shot came up short, but Lorenzo Charles grabbed it in mid-air and dunked the ball to give N.C. State the national championship.
The Upset of the Ages (1985) Georgetown had won the 1984 national championship and made it back to the title game in ’85. They were a heavy favorite against No. 8 seed Villanova, a team that entered the tournament with 10 regular season losses. The Wildcats were outmanned, but they would go on to shoot the lights out and win. Villanova shot 78.6 percent from the floor (90 percent in the second half) and pulled off the 66-64 upset.