The natural ups and downs associated with winning and losing are found across all sports as part of the nature of the competition, but few sports can match the euphoria (and consequent letdown) with the mens’ NCAA Tournament every March. When the underdog scores the major upset, it can send one set of fans into a celebratory frenzy while knocking the wind out of another.
Thus, Sportsing News Ryan Fagan had a challenge on his hands when he sat down to chart the biggest first-round upsets in NCAA Tournament history. With the sting still fresh for local Missouri fans, Fagan identifies that key loss this season for Frank Haith’s team as the second worst of all time.
“Norfolk State’s starting five was unreal against the heavily favored Tigers—those five combined to shoot 60.4 percent from the field, including 62.5 from beyond the 3-point line,” writes Fagan. “Three of them (Kyle O’Quinn, Chris McEachin and Pendarvis Williams) scored 20 points or more for the Spartans, and as a team they averaged an insane 1.30 points per possession for the game to knock off a Missouri squad that had been one of the season’s feel-good turnaround stories.”
Norfolk State would not go on to a magical run in this year’s tournament. Instead, they would go on to lose by 34 to the Florida Gators in the next round. Altogether, it shows that it was the right (or wrong) spot at the right (or wrong) time for both teams — good enough to make it the second worst upset of all-time. As for the first? The famed Richmond-Syracuse game will likely remain there for some time to come.