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March 19, 2014

Memorable upsets from past NCAA tournament opening weekends

This year's NCAA Tournament promises its share of surprises before the dust clears and the field of 68 is pared down to the Sweet 16. Here is a look back at some memorable upsets from the first weekend of past NCAA Tournaments.

No. 14 Cleveland State over No. 3 Indiana (1986)

Making their first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Vikings used their quickness and trapping full-court defense to stun an Indiana team whose core players -- Steve Alford, Daryl Thomas and Ricky Callaway -- would go on to win the national title the following year.

No. 15 Coppin State over No. 2 South Carolina (1997)

Neither the Eagles nor their conference (the Mideastern Athletic Conference) had ever won an NCAA Tournament game before 1997. But Coppin State, a 30-point underdog to the Gamecocks -- who that season were widely considered a legitimate Final Four threat -- took the lead with six minutes to play and pulled away for comfortable win.

No. 15 Santa Clara over No. 2 Arizona (1993)

Arizona rolled into the 1993 NCAA Tournament ranked fifth in the nation, but Santa Clara, led by a point guard named Steve Nash, survived a second-half run of 25 straight points by the Wildcats to pull off one of the biggest shockers in tournament history.

No. 15 Richmond over No. 2 Syracuse (1991)

Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, only seven No. 15 seeds have knocked off a No. 2 seed in the first round. The first to do it was Richmond, which jumped out to an early 10-point lead and never trailed against the Orangemen.

No. 9 Northern Iowa over No. 1 Kansas (2010)

The Jayhawks cruised into a second-round matchup against the Panthers as the tournament's top overall seed, but Northern Iowa led for all but 47 seconds in its first-ever win over a No. 1 team. Guard Ali Farokhmanesh's 3-pointer with 35 seconds left ended a furious Kansas rally and booked Northern Iowa's first trip to the Sweet 16.

No. 13 Valparaiso over No. 4 Mississippi (1998)

The play was known as "Pacer." Trailing by two with 2.5 seconds left, the Crusaders inbounded the ball from the far end of the court, with the long pass going to Bill Jenkins, who tapped the ball to Bryce Drew, whose 23-footer swished through the net and gave Valparaiso its first-ever NCAA Tournament win.

No. 14 Weber State over No. 3 North Carolina (1999)

This was the game which gave Weber State guard Harold ("The Show") Arceneaux his 15 minutes of fame. The Wildcats guard scored 36 points and the Tar Heels lost in the first round of the tournament for the first time since 1978.

No. 10 Davidson over No. 2 Georgetown (2008)

In one of the more memorable individual performances in recent tournament history, sophomore guard Stephen Curry scored 25 points in the second half against the Hoyas to give the 2008 tournament its undisputed Cinderella. The Wildcats would go on to knock off Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual national champion Kansas in the Midwest Regional final.

No. 9 Boston College over No. 1 North Carolina

North Carolina was coming off a national championship and was the top-ranked team in the tournament in 1994, but that didn't matter to the Eagles, who trailed only twice en route to its biggest win on a run to the Elite Eight.

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast over No. 2 Georgetown (2013)

In only its second year of postseason eligibility as a Division I program, Florida Gulf Coast astounded the college basketball world not so much by knocking off the second-seeded Hoyas, but by how they did it. The Eagles' 78-68 win was punctuated with a dunk by forward Chase Fieler off a pass from Brett Comer which brought the crowd to its feet. FGCU would go on to become the first No. 15 seed ever to make the Sweet 16.

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