NCAA Tournament 2016 upsets: Tracking most shocking results

By Michael Dixon

One of the highlights of every NCAA Tournament are the upsets. The 2016 tournament is no different.

This is the place to monitor which ones have occurred. We’ll keep track of every major upset as it happens.

East Region, Second round: No. 7 Wisconsin stuns No. 2 Xavier 66-63

Wisconsin’s Bronson Koening may never pay for a drink in the state of Wisconsin again. After a burying a deep three to tie the Badgers second round game against Xavier, Koening got his hands on the ball in the final seconds and proceeded to send his team to the Sweet 16.

With those six late points, Koening became the game’s leading scorer with 20. He made 18 of those points on six three-pointers and added two free throws. Teammate Ethan Happ chipped in with 18 of his own.

The Musketeers got 13 from Jalen Reynolds and Remy Abell in defeat. The game was close throughout, though Xavier led most of the way. Xavier led by as many as nine points at 58-49 before the Badgers began chipping away, but they didn’t tie the game until Koening’s first late three-point shot.

Wisconsin advances to the Sweet 16. When they get to Philadelphia, they’ll face No. 6 Notre Dame, who won a thriller of their own, beating No. 14 Stephen F. Austin 76-75 on a last-second tip in from Rex Pflueger.

Midwest Region, Second round: No. 11 Gonzaga routs No. 3 Utah 82-59

The first day of second round action has produced far fewer big upsets, but No. 11 Gonzaga pulled one against No. 3 Utah and did so in decisive fashion, routing the highly seeded Utes.

While Gonzaga was the heavy underdog by seeding, they did not look like it at all on Saturday night. After a 5-5 tie early in the first half, the Bulldogs led throughout, taking a 44-29 lead at halftime and running away with the game from that point on.

Utah star Jakob Poeltl had one of his worst games of the season, being held to five points. Kyle Kuzma led the Utes, scoring 15 points in defeat.

Gonzaga’s stars, on the other hand, came through in a big way. Eric McClellan paced the offense, scoring 22. Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer both came through, adding 19 and 17 points in the blowout win. Sabonis was also big on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds 10 secure the double-double. 

The Bulldogs will move on to Chicago and the Sweet 16 in a battle of underdogs, as they’ll take on the winner of Sunday’s game between No. 10 Syracuse and No. 15 Middle Tennessee State.

West Region, First round: No. 11 Northern Iowa outlasts No. 6 Texas 75-72

Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson made the shot of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

Actually, he made one of the best shots ever made at any tournament. This one ended one of the best games of one of the craziest first rounds that anyone will ever see.

The Longhorns’ Isaiah Taylor led all scorers with 22 points. He nailed a magnificent runner in the game’s final seconds to tie it, opening the door for Jesperson’s heroics.

After the Panthers led throughout the first half and took a 44-36 lead at halftime, the second half of the game was a back-and-forth affair. While Texas had the game’s leading scorer, Northern Iowa had an incredibly balanced scoring offense. In addition to Jesperson’s 14, Wes Washpun had 17, Jeremy Morgan had 16, Klint Carlson had 11, and Matt Bohannon had 10.

Of the 32 teams that advanced to the second round, 13 were the lower seeded teams in their first round games. Northern Iowa joined Wichita State and Gonzaga as 11 seeds to upend their sixth seeded opponent. Notre Dame’s come-from-behind win against Michigan was the only 6 vs. 11 game won by the higher seed.

The win gives the Panthers a second round game against No. 3 Texas A&M. The Aggies steamrolled No. 14 Green Bay 92-65 in the first round.

East Region, First round: No. 14 Stephen F. Austin handles No. 3 West Virginia 70-56

Brackets all throughout the land continued to crumble on Friday night, as Stephen F. Austin upended West Virginia, taking a lead late in the first half and holding it throughout.

Thomas Walkup’s 33 points for the Lumberjacks was by far the most of any player from either team. Teammate Clide Geffard Jr. had 14, while Devin Williams led the Mountaineers, scoring 12. West Virginia struggled mightily from three-point range, shooting only 3-16.

Upsets have been the constant theme of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. With Stephen F. Austin’s win, 16 over a 1 is the lone upset that has not happened. The Lumberjacks’ victory marked the 12th time that the lower-seeded team has won in the Round of 64.

Stephen F. Austin advances to the second round to take on the winner of No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 11 Michigan.

South Region, First round: No. 15 Middle Tennessee State stuns No. 2 Michigan State 90-81

Until the day comes when a No. 16 seed beats a 1 seed, this might be the biggest first round upset in tournament history. If Michigan State was given a one seed this year, you would have been hard pressed to find many people putting up much of an argument.

The fact that Middle Tennessee State won the game only tells part of the story. The Spartans not only lost the game, but were essentially dominated from the tip.

The favored Spartans never led and after 2-2, the game was never even tied. Also, this wasn’t a matter of one player getting hot. All five of the Raiders’ starters — Reggie Upshaw, Giddy Potts, Darnell Harris, Perrin Buford, and Jaqawn Raymond — had 11 or more points. Upshaw led way with 21.

Michigan State’s Matt Costello led all scorers with 22 and Denzel Valentine had a double-double with 13 points and 12 assists, but it was nowhere near enough.

The Raiders move on to the second round against No. 10 Syracuse, who blew out No. 7 Dayton 70-51 earlier in the day.

South Region, First round: No. 13 Hawaii topples No. 4 Cal 77-66

The 2016 NCAA Tournament has seen its share of upsets, but by seeding, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors victory over the California Golden Bears is the biggest yet.

Hawaii had a balanced offensive attack. Quincy Smith led the offensive attack with 19 points. He was complimented nicely by Roderick Bobbitt and Stefan Jankovic, who had 17 and 16, respectively. Cal’s Jordan Mathews was the game’s leading scorer, recording 23 points but didn’t get much help, excluding a double-double from Ivan Rabb.

Cal was playing shorthanded, as they were without leading scorer Tyrone Wallace as well as Jabari Bird, who averaged more than 10 points a game during the season. One of the Golden Bears best available players, Jaylen Brown, was plagued with foul trouble.

Hawaii was the better team throughout the contest. They followed the perfect script for pulling an upset, jumping Cal early and forcing the Bears to play from behind for most of the game. The Golden Bears’ loss drops the Pac-12 conference to 1-5 in the NCAA Tournament.

The win gives the Rainbow Warriors a second round game against the winner between No. 5 Maryland and No. 12 South Dakota State.

Midwest Region, First round:  No. 11 Gonzaga bests No. 6 Seton Hall, 68-52

A day with a number of sizable upsets concluded on Thursday night, when No. 11 Gonzaga took out Big East Tournament champion Seton Hall.

Domantas Sabonis led the Bulldogs with a double-double, scoring 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Kyle Wiltjer complimented him nicely, adding 13 points.

Isaiah Whitehead, who averaged better than 18 points a game during the regular season, had a terrible night at the absolute wrong time. He scored only 10 points, shooting 4-24 from the field. Whitehead also tied an NCAA Tournament record, going 0-for-10 on three pointers. Whitehead and Derrick Gordon led the Pirates’ offense, with each man scoring 10 points.

The free throw shooting of the two teams made a big difference. While Gonzaga was a fairly mediocre 14-of-21 (66.7%), they still blew away Seton Hall from the charity stripe, as the Pirates were was only 8-for-21 (38.1%).

While this is a big upset in the rankings, the recent success of the two programs says otherwise. Seton Hall had not made an NCAA Tournament since 2006 while Gonzaga has reached every tournament since 1999, making it to at least the Round of 32 every year since 2009.

The win sets Gonzaga up for a second round game against No. 3 Utah. The Utes dropped No. 14 Fresno State 80-69 in the first round. The game will feature a great battle of big men, as Sabonis and Utah’s Jakob Poeltl figure to see a lot of each other.

South Region, First round:  No. 11 Wichita State drops No. 6 Arizona, 65-55

No. 11 Wichita State’s effort wasn’t picturesque, but it handily defeated No. 6 Arizona Thursday night.

Fred VanVleet led the Shockers with 16 points. Ron Baker and Markis McDuffie were right behind him, scoring 13 and 10, respectively. Kadeem Allen was Arizona’s leading scorer with 11, while Gabe York and Allonzo Trier each had 10 for the Wildcats.

While the rankings tell us that the upset is significant, the biggest stunner here was Arizona’s weak offensive output. The Wildcats had averaged better than 81 points per game throughout the season, scoring 82 or more in three straight. It was apparent early on that that was not to be on Thursday night, as the Shockers held their opponents to only 19 first half points.

This is the first year that the Wildcats have failed to make at least the Sweet 16 since 2009. Wichita State advances to the Round of 32 for the fourth straight season.

The Shockers win gives them a second round date with No.3 Miami, which handled No. 14 Buffalo 79-72 earlier in the day.

Midwest Region, First round:  No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock stuns No. 5 Purdue, 85-83 (Double OT)

No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock pulled of the second major upset of the day, as they mounted a stunning comeback to beat No. 5 Purdue in double-overtime in the first round of the Midwest Region.

This was the second 12 vs. 5 upset on Thurdsay, but was significantly different from Yale’s upset over Baylor. The Bulldogs led that one throughout, with the Bears mounting a late charge to make it close.

There’s no way that Purdue should have lost this game. The Trojans were great in this game, especially at the end, but it’s fair to say that the Boilermakers just choked this game away.

Josh Hagins was the hero for Arkansas-Little Rock, as he hit a huge three to send the game to its first overtime.

Hagins was the game’s leading scorer, recording a career high 31 points for the Trojans, backing it up with seven rebounds, six assists, and five steals. Vince Edwards led Purdue with 24 points and 13 rebounds. A.J. Hammons also had a double-double for the Boilermakers, scoring 16 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

The Trojans move on to face No. 4 Iowa State in the second round. The Cyclones defeated Iona 94-81 earlier on Thursday.

The 12 seeds are now two-for-two against the 5 seeds in 2016. No. 12 Chattanooga is just getting underway against No. 5 Indiana, while No. 12 San Diego State will play No. 5 Maryland on Friday.

West Region, First round:  No. 12 Yale takes down No. 5 Baylor, 79-75

It seems as though the 12 vs. 5 games produce some big upsets annually, and 2016 did not disappoint. In front of a Yale-friendly crowd in Providence, R.I., the Bulldogs defeated the Bears.

Sophomore Makai Mason led the way for the Bulldogs, scoring a season-high 31 points for Yale in the upset victory. Taurean Prince was Baylor’s top scorer with 28 points.

The difference in the game was at the free-throw line, both in terms of volume and efficiency. Yale made 22 of 29 (75.9%) of their free throws, while Baylor was only 9 for 15 (60%) from the charity stripe. Mason was the best Bulldog from the line, making all 11 of his free throw attempts for Yale.

The Bulldogs led the game throughout, as the Bears had to come back from being down 64-51 with seven minutes left to make the game close.

Yale will now take on No. 4 Duke, who struggled in a 93-85 victory over No. 13 UNC-Wilmington. The game will be a rematch from a November contest, when the Bull Devils defeated the Bulldogs 80-61 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.