Ask two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash to list his top basketball memories of all-time and near the top of that list is a college game he played in 1993. Back then Nash was a freshman guard at Santa Clara, a small West Coast school that was ecstatic just to have been on the invite list for the NCAA Tournament.
They were seeded in the No. 15 spot, matched up against the No. 2-seed, the Arizona Wildcats, a team that has expectations to still be playing when Final Four weekend rolled around. But this plucky Santa Clara team rose up and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Nash hit six late free throws to secure the 64-61 shocker.
That win marked the second time that a No. 15-seed had upset a No. 2-seed since the tournament was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The first team to pull of the 15-over-2 feat was Richmond, who beat Syracuse in 1991.
Since Santa Clara’s improbable win, there have been two other instances of where a 15 toppled a 2. Coppin State, in 1997, was a 78-65 winner over South Carolina and Hampton in 2001, who were a 58-57 winner over Iowa State.
With the foundation laid by those four underdogs, every year as soon as the bracket is set, sports bettors, fans, poolsters and media personalities start the discussion of which No. 15 is going to add their name to the historic list. It’s become part of the March Madness ritual.
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If it happens this year, they’ll celebrate it by putting a free $15 in your account. So you know SPORTSBETTING.COM members will be cheering on those No. 15-seeds this year, and collecting a little free cash if they can pull off another big upset in 2008.
How have those No. 15-seeds fared moving forward you might ask? Not good. Each one lost in the next round, with only Coppin State staying close and covering the pointspread, as they lost 82-81 vs. Texas.
Looking for another possible upset combination? When the bracket is set, have a look at the No. 12 vs. No. 5 matchups. In six if the last seven NCAA Tournaments, a No. 12-seed has upset a No. 5-seed. See if you can spot a No. 12-seed that maybe deserved a higher slot and a No. 5 that is a little overrated and you could peg this year’s upset in those matchups.
There is still a lot of ball to be played through the weekend, as conference tournaments crown their champs and teams fight for either an invite, or higher seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Selection Sunday will unveil the 2008 bracket, giving us a look at the No. 15 and No. 2 matchups, plus the No. 12 vs. No. 5 teams.
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