The all-time greatest upsets in the history of sports: No. 16 UMBC joins the list
A look at the biggest shockers of sports, from Douglas and Tyson to USA Hockey's 'Miracle on Ice'
It put the madness in March Madness. It ensured that way more than just UMBC students learned what UMBC stands for (it's University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for those procrastinating). It , becoming the first No. 16 team to knock off a top seed in NCAA men's tourney history. It instantly thrust itself to the top of .
But the ripples of UMBC's bracket-busting victory flow well beyond just March Madness.
They put Friday night's underdog story squarely amid the greatest upsets in the history of sports. Here, in no definitive order, we review those monumental triumphs, from the UMBC thriller and Buster Douglas' KO of Mike Tyson to USA Hockey's "Miracle on Ice" and the Joe Namath-guaranteed New York Jets Super Bowl win:
UMBC upsets No. 1 Virginia in 2018 NCAA Men's Tournament
Let's start with the newest addition to the list. The score of this game -- UMBC 74, Virginia 54 -- wasn't even close, but that only solidifies how insane this was. Entering the matchup, No. 1 seeds were 135-0 against No. 16 seeds dating back to 1985, and the Cavaliers (31-2) held the top spot of all teams in the men's basketball tourney. And yet it was all Retrievers in this one, UMBC stomping on the 20.5-point favorites by holding Virginia to 21 first-half points and then outscoring them by 20 in the second.
USA Hockey beats the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics
The Soviet Union had captured men's ice hockey gold in five of the six previous Winter Games, whereas Team USA had both the youngest team in the Olympic tournament and in national team history. The showdown spawned an iconic call by Al Michaels -- "Do you believe in miracles?" -- as the United States won a 4-3 decision. It also marked an upset at a time the Cold War was still officially occurring, and paved the way for a Team USA gold vs. Finland.
Harvard upsets No. 1 Stanford in 1998 NCAA Women's Tournament
Before UMBC, there was Harvard. The first NCAA Division I basketball tournament victory by a No. 16 seed over a No. 1 seed came courtesy of the Crimson women, who edged Stanford, 71-67, in an unprecedented first-round win. The lead-up to the upset, as the Associated Press said, wasn't nearly as lopsided as, say, UMBC's big stunner, but it still marked a monumental first.
USA shuts out England at the 1950 FIFA World Cup
Known after World War II as the "Kings of Football," the English entered their group match with the United States coming off 4-0 and 10-0 routs. The Americans, meanwhile, were looking to break a losing streak of seven consecutive international soccer defeats -- with largely part-time or semi-pro players, no less. And yet the U.S. prevailed, with goalie Frank Borghi halting last-second kicks and securing a 1-0 win over England.
Roberta Vinci takes down Serena Williams at 2015 US Open
Italy's tennis hero after this performance, Vinci advanced to the Open semifinals, her first ever, with more losses in 2015 than Williams had racked up over the previous decade. She was ranked a whole 42 spots below her U.S. counterpart, who was playing in her 47th career semifinal. But she topped Williams in three sets, advancing to the Grand Slam final and denying her favored opponent a calendar Grand Slam in maybe the.
Buster Douglas KOs Mike Tyson in 1990
The "Tyson Is Back!" fight was built to be an international showcase for "Iron Mike," who entered the boxing ring as an undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. It's no surprise, then, why Tokyo -- and the rest of the world -- was taken aback when Tyson, 37-0 before the fight,, who lost his mother three weeks beforehand and came in as just a No. 7-ranked heavyweight.
They weren't a No. 16 seed, but, becoming the lowest seed (No. 8) to take the NCAA men's basketball championship thanks to their "Perfect Game" against No. 1-ranked Georgetown. Squaring off with their Big East rival for the third time that season, the Wildcats dominated the floor with a Final Four-record 78-percent field goal shooting and edged the Hoyas (30-2) in a 66-64 decision.
New York Jets stun the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III
In 1969, the Super Bowl was still the final showdown between the pre-merger NFL and American Football League, and at that time the AFL was more like title-game laughingstock than anything, the NFL's Green Bay Packers having blown out its opponents in the first two Super Bowls. But the Jets and quarterback Joe Namath, who guaranteed a win against all odds, delivered against the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, essentially legitimizing the AFL with a 16-7 victory.
NC State upsets Phi Slama Jama in 1983 NCAA championship
Two years before Villanova's claim to fame as a No. 8-seed title winner, the Wolfpack unleashed an upset of epic proportions against the University of Houston, which earned its nickname for a 1982-84 run as a slam-dunking, high-flying, non-methodical scoring attack. The Cougars had racked up a 31-2 record, No. 1 seed and 26-game win streak before their 1983 men's basketball championship, but it was NC State that came out on top, 54-52.
Title winners in 1966, the Orioles raced back to baseball's biggest series three years later, this time with a then-record 102 wins, sluggers like Frank Robinson and Hall of Fame-caliber hurlers like Jim Palmer and Mike "Crazy Horse" Cuellar. But the Mets, playing in just their eighth season since joining the MLB as an expansion club, saw their bats come alive on an unlikely postseason run that climaxed with a five-game World Series win capped at Shea Stadium.
Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Pats became the first NFL team to have a perfect regular season since 1972, and they entered the big game, their fourth in seven years, as 12-point favorites with an 18-0 record and numerous records to their name. New York kept New England from logging the most important "W" of the year, however, using Eli Manning heroics, the and a relentless defense to upset the league's top dynasty, 17-14.
Cincinnati Reds sweep the Oakland A's in 1990 World Series
The obvious favorites to win it all after doing so the year before, the Athletics trounced the Boston Red Sox to get to their third straight World Series, but they got a taste of their own medicine from "The Nasty Boys" in Cincinnati. The Reds set the tone in Game 1 of the title tilt, dominating 7-0, and they never let up from there, sweeping the series, 4-0 -- a stunning finish for an A's team that had done the same to the San Francisco Giants in 1989.
Robin Soderling defeats Rafael Nadal at 2009 French Open
Already a four-time French Open champion by 2009, Nadal was fresh off setting a record of 31 consecutive wins at Roland Garros when it came time to face Soderling, who had never before reached a Gram Slam final. The latter, however, brought tennis fame to Sweden by becoming the first person to ever top Nadal at the French Open, winning in the semifinals.
Chaminade upsets No. 1 Virginia in 1982 men's basketball season
This wasn't during March Madness, and Chaminade was no slouch with a 10-1 record vs. the Cavaliers' 8-0 mark. But the Silverswords were also not ranked, let alone on anyone's radar -- the matchup took place in the wee morning hours of Honolulu. UVA was a national powerhouse led by 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampson and with wins over Duke and Georgetown, but it fell behind en route to what some called college basketball's biggest upset ever -- one that prompted Chaminade to keep its name rather than go through with plans to change it.
Appalachian State upsets Michigan in 2007
FCS football schools aren't to be written off. Just look at North Dakota State. But when an FCS school meets an FBS power, that's a different story. Usually. Appalachian State might have been the cream of the crop in its class, but it seemed more like Opening Day fodder for Michigan, which was hyped as a Big Ten favorite and national championship contender entering 2007. Whoops. App State ended up doing something that Vegas didn't even bother giving a betting line, upsetting the Wolverines, 34-32.
No. 8 Nuggets upset the SuperSonics in 1994 NBA Playoffs
The Houston Rockets won it all in 1994, but the Denver Nuggets earned the most headlines for their first-round stunner against Seattle, which posted a franchise-best 63 wins and claimed the Western Conference's No. 1 seed. Down 2-0 through the first two games of the series, the Nuggets didn't fold but rather exploded, taking the contest in five and becoming the first 8-seed to beat a No. 1-seeded team in the NBA playoffs.
Upset beats Man o' War in 1919 Sanford Memorial Stakes
One of the greatest racehorses of all time, Man o' War lost just once in his career, and that one loss came courtesy of a horse who was given 100-to-1 odds of winning. That horse's name? Upset. The lone defeat came in 1919, when Man o' War won nine of 10 starts, at the Sanford Memorial Stakes and Saratoga Race Course, which is now known as the Graveyard of Champions.
This one lacks the magnitude of championship upsets or bracket busters, but it went down as one of the most statistically. Paid $600,000 by UNLV to come from the FCS as early-September punching-bag material on the football field, Howard University proceeded not only to edge the Rebels, 43-40, but demolish an opening point spread that had them as 600-to-1 long shots and, in some books, as 45.5-point underdogs.
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