Top 10 Biggest Upsets in the History of Basketball



Basketball is a fast and furious game, in which momentum often changes in an instant. Thrills and spills are guaranteed, and this short list of upsets are just a small sample of the many memorable games that have rocked this sport over the years.

This list is proof positive that it’s never really over until it is truly over, and complete turnarounds are possible at any point of play.


1982: Chaminade Silverswords Beat Virginia Cavaliers

The Silverswords went on to achieve one of the most awesome upsets in college basketball history when they secured a victory of 77 – 72 win over the top-ranked Cavaliers in 1982. The Cavs featured Ralph Sampson, a player twice voted national college player of the year.

1983: North Carolina State Wolfpack Overcome Houston Cougars

Lorenzo Charles dunked an airball three point shot home and gave his Wolfpack an iconic triumph; by the final score was 54 – 52.

villanova basketball jay wright

1985: Villanova Overpower Georgetown

#8 seeded Villanova was somehow able to shoot a hard-to-believe 78.6% for the game and beat the top-seeded Georgetown Hoyas 66–64. Dwayne McClain fell to his knees and thrust his fist into the sky as time ticked away. The Wildcats remain the lowest seed ever to win the national title. 

1994: Denver Nuggets Overwhelm the Seattle Supersonics

The #8 seed Denver Nuggets, driven by Dikembe Mutombo, defeated the #1 seed Supersonics by a final score of 110–93 in the series’ decisive final game. It was the first time an #8 upset a #1 in NBA postseason history. 

1997: Coppin State Eagles Conquer South Carolina Gamecocks

The Eagles were +30 underdogs, but Danny Singletary’s 22 points powered a 78-65 winner.

Had sports betting sites been as widely available then as they are now, this game would have seen punters who had put their money on the underdog laughing all the way to the bank.


2004: Detroit Pistons Crush Los Angeles Lakers

Chauncey Billups, point guard, took home the NBA Finals MVP award, as Detroit upset Kobe and company. 

2007: Golden State Warriors Rout Dallas Mavericks

Baron Davis, suffering through an injury to his hamstring, somehow managed to score 20 points during the 6th game, bestowing the first playoff win in 16 seasons on the Warriors.

2008: Harvard Trounce Stanford

Harvard nabbed the win with a closing score that stood at 71–67. Suzie Miller was responsible for the game winning shot. 

2012: Norfolk Spartans Thrash Missouri Tigers

Norfolk State Spartans forward Kyle O’Quinn was deservedly proud of his team’s vanquishing of the number 2-seeded Missouri Tigers; by a final score of 86–84.

2017: Mississippi State Bulldogs Beat University of Connecticut Huskies

Standing at 5 foot 5, Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Morgan William powered her team to victory. 

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