|In 2011, Shaka Smart led VCU in a bracket-busting run to the Final Four. (USATSI)|
Bracket busters are the things that make some of us crumple up our brackets and use them to line the bottom of a birdcage. For others, they are the moments that keep our faith alive in the tournament. Either way, bracket busters put the madness in March Madness. All it takes is one determined underdog to turn the month of March into the greatest couple of weeks of the year. On 75 Years of March Madness: Top 10 Upsets we counted down the moments that made you laugh and cry at the same time.
Villanova was almost perfect from the floor, shooting a record 79 percent against Georgetown's 55 percent. However, that effort still wasn't enough to put distance between Villanova and the Hoyas. Villanova ended up winning the title by a margin of two, 66-64, thanks to a shot by sophomore Harold Jensen that has been described as the biggest shot in Villanova history.
2. NC State beats Houston ('83)
Houston's roster looked like it was pulled out of an NBA program while NC State's resembled something put together last night. But that didn't stop legendary coach Jim Valvano and the Wolfpack from defeating the Houston Cougars and future Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler with a last second shot to win the title 54-52.
3. Texas Western beats Kentucky ('66)
When the five starting white players of powerhouse Kentucky faced the five starting black players of little-known Texas Western, there was more on the line than winning the tournament. In a time of civil rights unrest in the country, this game had a social significance. Texas Western defeated Kentucky 72-65 to win the national championship in what then-Kentucky player Pat Riley describes as “a watershed crossroads game that opened up the floodgates of integration and that changed history.”
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4. George Mason's run ('06)
Many questioned the Patriots' entry into the NCAA tournament but they proved the doubters wrong as basketball powerhouses fell at their feet. George Mason defeated, No. 6 Michigan State, No. 3 North Carolina and another surprise tournament entry, Wichita State, to gain entrance into the Elite Eight where it faced No. 1 UConn. The Patriots were not denied a trip to the Final Four as they defeated the Huskies 86-84 in overtime. The dream came to an end in the Final Four semifinals against Florida.
Regarded as a coaching genius, No. 13 Princeton coach Pete Carril ran the defending champion No. 3 UCLA Bruins into the ground with his famous Princeton offense in the first round. The Bruins didn't have an answer for Princeton and all its backdoor cuts and fell to the Tigers 43-41 in Carril's last win as a coach.
In a Cinderella tournament run, the No. 11 VCU Rams went up against what coach Shaka Smart called “the best team left in all of college basketball,” No. 1 Kansas. No one thought the Rams would make it that far but a string of treys and unrelenting hustle left the Jayhawks sobbing on the bench as VCU went on to the Final Four after a 71-61 upset.
This Friday was one for the record books as Norfolk and Lehigh had a bracket-busting day. For the first game, No. 15 Norfolk defeated No. 2 Missouri and less than a half-hour later No. 15 Lehigh defeated perennial favorite No. 2 Duke. It had been nearly 10 years since the last time a No. 15 defeated a No. 2, and in pure March Madness form it happened twice in the same day.
This was the first time two teams combined to start a majority of African-American players. The story of David and Goliath comes to mind as you watch the small Chicago Jesuit school of Loyola take down two-time defending champions Cincinnati 60-58 in overtime to win the national championship. The game made a statement, not just for African-Americans but also for small schools everywhere.
The Richmond Spiders were called the Kings of Upsets, because of their ability to take down big-name programs and coaches. In 1988, the No. 13 Richmond Spiders defeated Bobby Knight and the defending national champion Indiana Hoosiers, then three years later dropped Jim Boeheim and No. 2 Syracuse. This would be the first time a No. 15 seed won a first-round game.
A relatively unknown pimply-faced freshman from No. 15 Santa Clara named Steve Nash made a name for himself at the free-throw line with six consecutive makes to defeat No. 2 Arizona 64-61.