Most Absurd Moments in the History of March Madness: Check Out These Unbelievable Plays

The NCAA’s March Madness tournament is filled with unexpected moments, and it’s without a doubt one of the most entertaining tournaments to watch. Roughly once every other year a No. 8 or No. 9 seed snuffs out the top seed in the region. Cinderella teams breaking brackets also break ratings records (and hearts) among fans.

This is why some plays make it in the history of March Madness. I handpicked 10 notable moments you should know about, and should absolutely rewatch before you stream March Madness this year.

Why Are There So Many Upsets During March Madness?

As with any competitive sport, each team seeks a victory and its shining moment. With players from all over the country pushing forward through the 68-team bracket, underdogs sometimes prove to be a real challenge for the powerhouses favored to win. 

The upsets became a phenomenon of their own. Whenever a low-seed team defeats a higher seed, viewers take notice. Fans examine brackets and look for or even bet on the next Cinderella team. Double-digit teams breaking brackets causes the biggest uproar.

The biggest upset in March Madness’ history happened just recently, in 2018. That’s when a No. 16 seed competed against a No. 1 and came out on the winning side. The entire game is a pleasure to watch.

Everyone loves seeing the unexpected, and March Madness doesn’t disappoint in terms of upsets. An upset is when the winning team was seeded at least two lines better than the losing team. By this metric, we saw between 10 and 16 upsets in 28 of the last 36 seasons. This makes for an annual average of about 12.4 upsets

That seems like a high number of upsets, so let’s see why it might be. Teams are seeded based on their records, but are sometimes favored also because of their coach’s reputation… which can skew the brackets. 

This can artificially boost some players’ ego, and push other teams with a lower seed to challenge themselves and play better. High-seeded teams might also not take lower-seed teams seriously, and not compete as strongly as they would against their bracketed peers. 

A second big part of upsets might just be rooted in human psychology. An overly anxious coach or leader might cause the team to start up tense and overly cautious. This can impact performance.

Lastly, upsets might not even be the product of a Cinderella story, but may also stem from the fact that underdogs are overlooked. Teams playing in smaller conferences don’t have as much visibility regardless of their talent and training. 

No matter the root cause for upsets, one thing’s clear — they make for an entertaining night. And it’s moments like these making March Madness worth watching. Let’s see 10 such moments, and what made them iconic.

10 Greatest March Madness Moments Ever

#10 – Indiana Hoosiers Break an Undefeated Record (1976)

The Indiana Hoosiers hadn’t won an NCAA men’s basketball title since the 1950s, which made the team’s 1976 victory margin all the more impressive. Led by head coach Bob Knight, the team went on to finish the year with 32-0. They were the last team to be undefeated National Champions.

#9 – Best Father-Son Moment (2015)

Ron Hunter, the Georgia State head coach, had to sit this one down (literally) because of a torn achilles tendon. He led his No. 14 seed team from a wheelchair, and his son, R.J. Hunter played on the team. When young Hunter hit a game-winning three-pointer with seconds left in the first round, his dad couldn’t contain his excitement and fell off the chair

#8 – The Biggest Blowout (1963)

Blowouts, where one team completely overpowers its opponent, may take away the competitiveness out of the game, but they still make for an entertaining match. And Loyola really set the standard for blowouts with their 111-42 victory margin. Down 41 at the half, opponent Tennessee Tech shot an unfathomable 18-of-82 for the night. The 69-point gap went down in NCAA history, and has yet to be topped. Loyola would go on to the finals, where they beat the Cincinnati Bearcats 60-58.

#7 – The Greatest Upset in History (2018)

Upsets occur every year but it wasn’t until 2018 that something historic happened. We witnessed a No. 16 seed defeat a No. 1 seed for the first time ever. University of Maryland from Baltimore County (UMBC) topped Virginia 74-54. UMBC wasn’t even the team with the highest likelihood of pulling off an upset that year – they were the underdogs of underdogs.

#6 – Texas Western’s Historic Lineup (1966)

You might know Texas Western now as the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). In 1966, it was the first team to feature a full team of black players. Amid backlash, Texas Western defeated the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats 72-65. After the 1966 Championship, college teams throughout the South began recruiting young black players, which ended years of segregation.

#5 – Jordan’s Game Winner (1982)

Michael Jordan is a widely recognized figure nowadays, but back in 1982 he was a brilliantly gifted freshman at the forefront of the matchup between North Carolina and Georgetown. In the last 15 seconds of the game, then 19-year-old Jordan hit the shot giving North Carolina its first title since the 1950s.

#4 – Laettner Nails the Buzzer Beater (1992)

In 1992, Duke was pushing hard to win its second straight championship but Kentucky had other plans. Both teams played exceptionally, which caused the lead to change 17 times and led to 16 ties. This also took the game into overtime. The breath-catching match came to an end when Laettner nailed the buzzer beater for the 104-103 victory. It’s widely regarded as the OG of winning shots

#3 – Jenkins’ Winning Shot (2016)

Not falling behind Laettner’s OG winning shot, Kris Jenkins also made history during the NCAA title games. He sinked a game-winning buzzer beater, and led Villanova over North Carolina. Scoring 77-74 for Villanova, it’s been called the best game-winning shot in tournament history by the NCAA.

#2 – Magic vs. Bird Rivalry (1979)

The 1979 tournament launched this legendary rivalry which had people glued to their seats. Magic Johnson’s Spartans faced the undefeated Indiana State led by Larry Bird, and won the title. This Michigan State-Indiana State match is the highest-rated basketball game on US television among college and pro tournaments alike.

#1 – Underdog Takes Down Iconic Phi Slamma Jamma (1983)

North Carolina wasn’t favored in the game against the University of Houston’s famed Phi Slama Jama team. Challenging the team of future Hall-of-Famers Drexler and Olajuwon, NC took the win in the final seconds. The best yet? Coach Jim Valvano was caught on camera running around and desperately looking for someone to celebrate with. 

Can You Watch March Madness with CyberGhost VPN?

If you’re somewhere with a restrictive Wi-Fi network like a student dorm, you might not be able to watch March Madness. This is because most public Wi-Fi networks have bandwidth restrictions in place to prevent overcrowding and congestion, so they block data-heavy activities and sites, like streaming platforms, by default. This will prevent you from catching up on your favorite underdogs. 

If you’re traveling abroad, you’ll find yourself in a similar spot. The NCAA tournaments aren’t that popular outside North America, so you might not find the matches readily available to watch. 

Connect to CyberGhost’s VPN servers and you’ll never miss a minute of the action-packed matches! Our fast VPN servers ensure you won’t deal with lag, buffering, or freezing as you watch the best teams fight their way up the ladder. Take the matches with you on your phone, or cozy up next to your PC. You’ll always have the best March Madness games at your fingertips!

CyberGhost VPN is compatible with all platforms streaming the NCAA men’s tournament online, like:

Whether you want to catch up on the scores while you’re on the go, or the games keep you glued to the big screen, CyberGhost VPN has you covered. We have VPN apps for all major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire Stick, and even Smart TVs

Stream March Madness online worry-free with CyberGhost VPN. Try us out risk-free with our 45-day money-back guarantee

Don’t Miss Out on the Bracket Busting

The NCAA is full of ups and downs, and watching NBA-caliber young athletes compete with such fervor is an unique experience. This year, we’re looking at a good roster

March 14 & 15First FourDayton, OHUD Arena
March 16 & 18First/Second RoundsBirmingham, ALLegacy Arena
March 16 & 18First/Second RoundsDes Moines, IAWells Fargo Arena
March 16 & 18First/Second RoundsOrlando, FLAmway Center
March 16 & 18First/Second RoundsSacramento, CAGolden 1 Center
March 17 & 19First/Second RoundsAlbany, NYMVP Arena
March 17 & 19First/Second RoundsColumbus, OHNationwide Arena
March 17 & 19First/Second RoundsDenver, COBall Arena
March 17 & 19First/Second RoundsGreensboro, NCGreensboro Coliseum
March 23 & 25West RegionalLas Vegas, NVT-Mobile Arena
March 23 & 25East RegionalNew York, NYMadison Square Garden
March 24 & 26Midwest RegionalKansas City, MOT-Mobile Center
March 24 & 26South RegionalLouisville, KYKFC Yum! Center
April 1 & 3Final FourHouston, TXNRG Stadium

Mark the date, and don’t miss out on your favorite team!

If you’re traveling abroad or living somewhere with restrictive Wi-Fi like a student dorm, you might be able to stream March Madness. Use CyberGhost VPN to regain access to March Madness platforms including fuboTV, Sling TV, Hulu, and others. Our fast VPN servers ensure you’ll never miss a scene!


What is the greatest upset in NCAA basketball history?

The greatest upset in NCAA basketball history took place in 2018. That’s when the University of Maryland from Baltimore County (UMBC), a No. 16 seed competed against the Virginia Cavaliers, a No. 1 seed, and came out victorious.

What is the biggest blowout in March Madness history?

If we’re talking blowouts, Loyola from Illinois comes to mind. On March 11 1963, Loyola played against Tennessee Tech and won 111-42. This 69-point gap went down in history, and hasn’t been topped since. It’s moments like these that keep entire US states glued to the screen.

How many times has a 16 beat a 1 in March Madness?

Only once. The University of Maryland from Baltimore County (UMBC) is the only No. 16 seed to ever beat a No. 1 seed. They made history in the first round in 2018. UMBC is the first team to achieve this feat since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The complete game is available for free on YouTube, and it’s definitely worth your time.

Can you stream March Madness with CyberGhost VPN?

Yes, CyberGhost VPN is a perfect choice for streaming March Madness. We have streaming-optimized servers perfect for all major streaming platforms featuring the tournament, like fuboTV, DirecTV, Hulu, or Sling TV. With VPN servers in 11 US cities, you’ll easily catch up with your favorite teams even if you’re traveling abroad. Our VPN servers give you fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth so you can enjoy buffer-free and UHD streams with no issues. Try CyberGhost VPN risk-free with our 45-day money-back guarantee.

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