OT: The Greatest Upsets in Sports

Submitted by stephenrjking on March 17th, 2018 at 12:46 AM

We just witnessed sports history.

UMBC, a 16 seed, just beat Virginia, a 1 seed. We've all seen the stats since then: this is the first 16 seed to win in 136 tries. The remarkable 135-0 streak was one of the great streaks in sports.

And it makes this one of the great upsets of all time. This is a delight for every sports fan in the country tonight. I believe this is, easily, the upset of the century, in any sport.

What are others that rank with this? I can think of two that even rate, one of which is higher. What are upsets that approach this internationally, or in unusual sports?

We've seen history. Where does it rank?



March 17th, 2018 at 8:28 AM ^

Without a doubt 1980 is the biggest upset. That Russian team was the greatest hockey team of all time. They never lost. They beat the US 10-1 a week before the games. They toyed with everyone. Yet somehow a bunch of 22 year olds that had only been playing together a short time defeated them. If you witnessed it you would know how monumental it was.

UMBC is definately my number 2 tied with Douglas over Tyson and Chaminade over Virginia.


March 17th, 2018 at 12:59 AM ^

Chaminade over Ralph Samson is on the list but that was a preseason game in Hawaii.

Its a different beast (season v single game) but Leicester City winning the Premier League two years ago has to rank as the most implausible sports result ever.

South Bend Wolverine

March 17th, 2018 at 1:07 AM ^

Leicester City stands alone in terms of ridiculously unlikely achievements.  Anything can happen in a single game, but to win a title in the toughest league that utilizes the most balanced, upset-proof system for determining a champion possible as a 5,000-1 underdog is beyond insane.

In terms of single-game results, though, this has got to be up there.


March 18th, 2018 at 12:40 AM ^

At tip you could only get 19:1. Earlier in the week you could get 40:1.

The biggest single-game upset I can think of on a big stage is the US beating England in the 1950 World Cup. The US didn't have full-time professional players; supposedly you could get 500:1 on the match in England. I doubt you can find odds like that nowadays on any single contest no matter how big the mismatch.

BOX House

March 17th, 2018 at 1:01 AM ^

1992: District 5, coached by Gordon Bombay, performing community service for DUI, upsets the Hawks to win the MN peewee championship. District 5 later shocked the world by defeating Iceland for the Junior Goodwill Games championship as team USA.


March 17th, 2018 at 1:06 AM ^

I don't even think this is the biggest upset in Virginia basketball history. The Chaminade loss really cannot be beat: UVa was top ranked and lost to an NAIA team from a tiny school.

It's notable for being the first 1-16 upset, the only one that hadn't happened yet. But UMBC isn't terrible, they were a 2 seed in their conference tournament and obviously won it. Their record is 25-10.

Virginia was the top overall seed which means something, but they were unranked to start the year for a reason. Also, as Ace said on the last podcast, they were pretty ripe for an upset along the way because they slow the game down so much, weird things can happen in small samples. UMBC made a bunch of 3s and built an insurmountable lead, which UVA could not overcome.

Not to take away, the terriers amazing.


March 17th, 2018 at 1:34 AM ^

The UVA - Chaminade loss was essentially a "pre-season" game, held in Hawaii.  There was no focus.

The UMBC loss was an end of season loss when UVA was in tournamenrt form.  They were just coming off an ACC regular season championship and an ACC tournament championship.

And it was a blowout.





March 17th, 2018 at 1:45 AM ^

huge upset, yes.  One that really mattered in the long run - no.  Virginia would be back up to #2 in the nation a couple weeks later and a #1 seed in the tournament in March.  

Couple other things people forget:

1.  Virginia only played Chaminade because they were flying back from playing a few games in Japan.  They used that game as a stopover and an opportunity to spend a few days around Christmas in sunny Hawaii (which was surely warmer than Charlottesville, Virginia.  e.g, it was a mini-vacation).

2.  Chaminade was NAIA, but they were legimately good too.  They would beat three OTHER top 20 teams over the next 2 seasons: Louisville twice and SMU (top 5 at the time) once.


March 17th, 2018 at 1:12 AM ^

US Hockey Gold. I really don’t think I will see anything quite like it again, either of them.

Cavaet, emotion level depends on your age I was 10 and 22 when these events happened.


March 17th, 2018 at 2:18 AM ^

The gold was somewhat anticlimactic, actually.  The structure that year was weird.  However, the US/USSR game was not the final game the US played.  They had to go back out and beat Finland to win the gold, which they did.  A loss or draw would have given them the silver or bronze.


Chitown Kev

March 17th, 2018 at 1:22 AM ^

is that the tourney existed before the expansion to 64 teams...

You want a wild ride of upsets...try the 1979 East Regional...yes, the year that MSU and Magic won it...the two lowest seeds from the East region made it to the regional finaL...granted, Penn was a known quantity in those days that already had a decent NCAA tourney history...