Which NCAA Tournament had the most upsets?


David is back to conquer Goliath…time and time again.

Every March, fans around the country try to guess what low-seeded team will make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Will an 11-seed make another deep run to the Final Four? Which 12 or 15-seed will deliver a stunning first-round win? 

In especially lucky years, fans are treated to multiple Cinderella stories as underdogs navigate the bracket against some of the biggest teams in the country. 

The magic of March tends to convince us we’re witnessing the greatest tournament to date, but what really is the most upset-friendly tournament? Here’s a look at some of the NCAA Tournaments with the most upsets.

What is an upset?

While it’s easy to overlook teams from mid-majors and small conferences, the reality is that so often, the margin between teams of nearby seeds is so negligible.

The NCAA website defines an upset as a win by a team of at least five seeds or fewer than their opponent. So that 10-seed win over a 7-seed, while exciting, doesn’t make the list of upsets.

What is the record for upsets in a single March Madness tournament?

Twelve different men’s tournaments can claim at least 10 upsets. Half of those came in the last decade, including the last two tournaments that saw a record 14 upsets. 

If history is any indication, the 2023 tournament could easily crack the top 10. 

Here are the 10 tournaments with the most upsets:

T-1. 2021 - 14 upsets
T-1. 2020 - 14 upsets
T-3. 1985 - 13 upsets
T-3. 2014 - 13 upsets
5. 1986 - 12 upsets
T-6. 2002 - 11 upsets
T-6. 2006- 11 upsets
T-6. 2011 - 11 upsets
T-6. 2013 - 11 upsets
T-6. 2018 - 11 upsets

How many upsets have there been in the 2023 NCAA Tournament?

One day down and the men’s tournament has already seen two double-digit upsets. 

The complete list of upsets for the 2023 men’s Tournament is:

First round

  • No. 11 Pitt def. No. 6 Iowa State 41-59
  • No. 13 Furman def. No. 4 Virginia 68-67
  • No. 15 Princeton def. No. 2 Arizona State 59-55
  • No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson def. No. 1 Purdue 63-58

Second round

  • No. 8 Arkansas def. No. 1 Kansas 72-71
  • No. 15 Princeton def. No. 7 Missouri 78-63
  • No. 7 Michigan State def. No. 2 Marquette 69-60
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