It’s finally back. March Madness season is upon us. After missing out on this spectacular time of the year due to COVID in 2020, we will have a tournament.

So much of March Madness’s fun is the unpredictability; any team can have their season end at any moment. The 2010s proved that, providing us with never-before-seen upsets and legendary days in sports history. Before the games start this week, let’s take a look at the best upsets of the 2010s.

2018: (16) UMBC vs. (1) Virginia

It’s hard to argue that this is the best upset in tournament history. Looking back on this game, it is preposterous that UMBC won. Never mind that Virginia was the number one overall team; No. 16 seeds were 0–135 all-time against No. 1 seeds!

The Cavaliers were an absolute wagon going 17–1 in conference play, and then defeated North Carolina in the ACC Tournament championship, finishing the regular season 31–2. Granted, they lost forward De’Andre Hunter to a season-ending left wrist fracture two days before. However, they still had the other main contributors from their future national championship-winning team: Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, Mamadi Diakite, etc.

The Retrievers came in as 20.5 point underdogs but went on to win by 20! No one in their right mind picked them to win, but they somehow did.

2016: (15) Middle Tennessee State vs. (2) Michigan State

This one will always hurt, as I picked the Spartans to win it all this year. Denzel Valentine was leading the Big 10 tournament champs on a nine-game win streak. The Blue Raiders didn’t care, and Reggie Upshaw put up 21 points on his way to ruining my bracket. Tom Izzo and this team full of seniors lost in a memorable shootout.

2014: (14) Mercer vs. (3) Duke

This game often gets overlooked because of Duke’s later infamous tournament loss, but people should not ignore the Bears’ win. The Blue Devils had a sneaky talented lineup, including Quinn Cook, Rodney Hood, and number two overall pick Jabari Parker. Mercer had five players in double digits, and their lineup of seniors had a late 20–5 run to propel the second-round upset.

(I think Coach K had videos of this game scrubbed from the internet because I couldn’t find any videos of this game besides from Mercer’s YouTube)

2013: (15) Florida Gulf Coast vs. (2) Georgetown

One of the most electric teams in recent tournament history, the “Dunk City” Eagles took down Otto Porter and the Hoyas by ten points. FGCU had two players with 20+ points and then took down San Diego State on their way to the Sweet Sixteen.


2012: (15) Lehigh vs. (2) Duke AND (15) Norfolk State vs. (2) Missouri

We can thank Norfolk State for one of the best games in tournament history. Six players scored 20+, and it was a draft stock booster for Kyle O’Quinn, who dropped 26 points and 14 rebounds. It was a classic game with the teams tied at the half, and the Spartans only won by two.

The Lehigh vs. Duke game the next day was a coming-out party for CJ McCollum. As a junior, he gave Duke 30 points, six rebounds, and six assists and led the Mountain Hawks to a five-point victory. At the time, this seemed like a mismatch: Austin Rivers and the Plumlee brothers taking on a no-name from the Patriot League. Little did we know they were going up against a guy who would make a living getting buckets alongside Damian Lillard. 

If this doesn’t get you excited to watch some March Madness, I don’t know what will. Now it’s time for me to sit back and watch my bracket get busted.

On Twitter: @nicksimeone20