A Project for Better Journalism chapter

March Madness Upsets

Each March, time (and work) almost seems to stop as people’s lives are consumed with the “madness” of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship. This year was marked by the sheer number of upsets, many of which occurred in the early stages of the tournament– according to the Washington Post, only 0.1% of people still had a perfect bracket after the first round. Let’s take a look back at some of the sensational upsets:


Yale vs. Baylor: 79-75

The Baylor Bears played without the sense of urgency they typically have, giving the Bulldogs an opening, which Makai Mason filled with his 31 points. Yale outrebounded the Bears despite the Bears’ advantage in size. Too bad Yale’s magic was short lived, as they fell to Duke in the next round.


UNI vs. Texas: 75-72

The only thing that even needs mentioning was the miracle buzzer beater by Paul Jesperson.


MSU vs. Middle Tennessee: 90-81

Middle Tennessee’s upset over MSU was the biggest upset in the tournament since 2013, when Florida Gulf Coast upset Georgetown. Middle Tennessee lead comfortably for most of the game and was led by Reggie Upshaw’s 21 points. ESPN reported that 20% of people projected MSU to win it all, making it a major upset.


Gonzaga vs. Seton Hall: 68-52

Although the higher seed, Seton Hall fell to Gonzaga in what turned out to be a domination by the Bulldogs. Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis had a double-double with 21 points and 16 rebounds to lead the team to the second round.


Gonzaga vs. Utah: 82-59

Things got even more interesting for Gonzaga in the second round, where they repeated their domination in a game against Utah. Eric McClellan provided 22 points and Sabonis had another double-double, with 19 points and 10 rebounds.


Hawaii vs. Cal: 77-66

Cal was unlucky coming into this one, losing two of their best players, one to a broken hand and the other to back spasms. Hawaii was led by Quincy Smith’s 19 points.


Wichita State vs. Arizona: 65-55

Arizona was shut out by Wichita State’s defense, as the Shockers forced 19 turnovers and 9 steals. Wichita led by 12 at the half and never looked back.


Little Rock vs. Purdue: 85-83

In what may have been the craziest game yet of the tournament, Little Rock needed two overtimes, a buzzer beater, and a miracle comeback to down Purdue. Josh Hagins was the hero in one, making a miracle 3 pointer from half court, another layup to send the game to double overtime, and ended up finishing with a game-high 31 points.

Yale's Makai Mason (11) shoots over Baylor's Lester Medford (11) and Ishmail Wainright (24) in the first half of their game.

Yale’s Makai Mason (11) shoots over Baylor’s Lester Medford (11) and Ishmail Wainright (24) in the first half of their game.