Top Four Surprising Champions in NCAA Basketball History

The NCAA March Madness is arguably the most interesting sports event in the world. There are tournaments and competitions which might be more popular (even that is debatable) but for sure, neither of them is providing so many surprises and upsets like the NCAA Tournament.

Throughout history, we’ve witnessed amazing and spectacular outcomes, some of which nobody could have even guessed.

The format of the competition of the NCAA favors upsets because there is only one game, and not the series, like, for example, in the NBA Finals. Because of it, the weaker teams have bigger chances to get away with a surprise. Also, with all due respect, college basketball programs have much more energetic fans that the one in the NBA, and some of the venues are ferocious. The atmosphere at tournament games is reminding to one soccer match in the English Premier League, with all the noise and jumping in the stands.

All this and many other factors we aren’t going to mention here are creating a perfect environment for some unexpected outcomes. Now, we are here to deliver 4 of the most shocking NCAA Tournament winners in the history of college basketball despite their odds to win the NCAA championship. If you want to see the odds this year we usually use the trusted few like ESPN, Yahoo or Vegas Odds to stay up to date with the latest college basketball odds and betting sites during March Madness.


City College of New York Beavers in 1950

For sure, some might dispute this selection because of the number of matches Beavers played back then. They defeated No.2 Ohio State, No.5 North Carolina State and No.1 Bradley in the finals. But there is one catch, Only eight teams made it to the 1950 tournament, and among them, Beavers were not ranked at least once since the start of the campaign.

But they won the National Invitation Tournament previously, and while doing so, the Beavers defeated the reigning champions San Francisco, and the back-to-back NCAA defending champs Kentucky.  After that they beat Bradley in the finals, just indicating what will happen later that year.

The influence of the Beavers goes way beyond this title, as they made a massive impact on the basketball in general. They were the first team to win the NIT and the NCAA tournament in one year, and also the first team who won the championship with Afro-American players in the starting lineup. By the way, there were two of them in the starting five, along with three Jewish players. Throughout their campaign, they didn’t just fight on the court, but off as well, as they experienced a lot of humiliation at a time. But for the Beavers, it was only an additional motive to write history.


Connecticut Huskies 2014

The No.7 seed which was on the brink of elimination in the first round, and later on went to beat top four seeds one by one, before eventually winning the championship against the eight-seeded side in the finals. Can it better than this? Before all this, they closed the season with a blowout loss of 33 points, vs. Louisville, 48-81.

For many it can’t. And we just need to add that the Huskies came back from the previous year once they received a ban from participating in the playoffs due to NCAA sanctions imposed because of bad APR ratings.

Shabazz Napier was the MOP of the Final Four held at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The interesting this with this title, was the fact that the Huskies’ women’s team also won the championship and that they repeated the success from 2004. UConn is the only program to win titles within both competitions during the same year.


North Carolina State Wolfpack 1983

Jim Valvano is arguably the most charismatic head coach in college history. It is safe to say that a guy of his caliber won’t show up for many more years. If weren’t for him and his fantastic guidance of the 1983 NC State, we wouldn’t see one of the most intense endings in the history of the NCAA.

His team defeated the No.1 and the ultimate favorite for winning the championship, Houston Cougars led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. NC State was going through a rough season, and was, for example, unranked up until the final pool. They were the first team to win the title with a double-digit number of losses.

NC State had to play two OTs in the opening round of the tournament against Pepperdine before catching its rhythm. Following that, one by one, Utah, Virginia, Georgia and Houston kneeled in front of them


Vilanova Wildcats 1985

Two years after NC State’s win, there was another miracle. The Wildcats won the championship as the lowest seed ever, and they too had 10 defeats during the season.

During the early stages of the tournament, Vilanova defeated Daytona, Michigan, and Maryland with no more than four points. In the finals, they had to face Georgetown, who was the absolute favorite to take the honors. Wildcats shocked the world, beating the favorites 66-64, playing the “Perfect Game” as the fans and experts call that final.

It was their first win of the season over the Hoyas, who defeated them 52-50 and 57-50 during the regular part of the campaign. However, in the championship game, the Wildcats posted 78% shooting from the field, which was and still is the highest FG percentage at one Final Four game.


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