From Oral Roberts and Saint Peter’s to Norfolk State and Coppin State, there have been some extraordinary March Madness betting upsets over the last three decades.
What are the biggest outright wins by underdogs in NCAA Tournament history?
Biggest March Madness Betting Upsets Ever
|2012||(15) Norfolk State||(2) Missouri||-/+ 21|
|2018||(16) UMBC||(1) Virginia||-/+ 20.5|
|1997||(15) Coppin State||(2) South Carolina||-/+ 19|
|2022||(15) Saint Peter's||(2) Kentucky||-/+ 18|
|2001||(15) Hampton||(2) Iowa State||-/+ 17.5|
|2016||(15) MTSU||(2) Michigan State||-/+ 16.5|
|2021||(15) Oral Roberts||(2) Ohio State||-/+ 16|
|1999||(15) Weber State||(2) North Carolina||-/+ 15|
|2010||(14) Ohio||(2) Georgetown||-/+ 14|
|2015||(14) UAB||(3) Iowa State||-/+ 14|
|2005||(14) Bucknell||(3) Kansas||-/+ 13|
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One day after the NCAA Tournament selection committee placed Ohio State in the South Region as a 2-seed in the 2021 tournament, Chris Holtmann lauded the Buckeyes’ first round opponent, Oral Roberts. He called the Golden Eagles – a 16-point underdog in college basketball betting – “one of the really, really talented offensive teams in the country” and said their sophomore guard Max Abmas is “single-handedly capable of winning a game.”
Holtmann was right; Oral Roberts ranked 12th nationally in scoring average (81.8 points) and Abmas ranked first in scoring average (24.2 points), scoring at last 30 in seven of their 25 games. If the Eagles had any prayer of shocking Ohio State and delivering the ninth-ever 15-over-2 win in NCAA Tournament history, they seemingly needed another 30-point game from Abmas to lead their 16th 80-point game of the season.
Neither happened. Even with five extra minutes of overtime, Abmas didn’t score 30 and Oral Roberts didn’t score 80. And neither needed to happen for the tiny private school to shock a program that pays their head coach more monthly than they pay their head coach annually.
Oral Roberts entered Friday’s game as the seventh-biggest underdog of the first round in 2021, trailing only the 16-seeds and three of the four 15-seeds. The Eagles hadn’t appeared in a tourney game since 2008 and hadn’t won a tourney game since 1974. They lost all four games against high-major opponents this season, had zero wins in Quadrants 1 and 2, were buried in every metric, and entered the Summit League Tournament with a 13-10 record.
It was the sixth-ever March Madness betting upset by an underdog of greater than 15 points, ranking one spot ahead of Weber State (+15) over North Carolina in 1999, and one spot behind Middle Tennessee (+16.5) over Michigan State in 2016.