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Biggest upsets in sports history

The upset against which all other sports upsets are measured, the Miracle on Ice carries even more weight thanks to the political connotations (even if it lacked any real political impact). Not only were the Soviets the dominant force in hockey during this stretch of the 20th Century, their players were far more skilled and experienced than the college kids that made up Team USA. The Americans went 4 0 1 in first round play, a big surprise in itself, while the Soviets steam rolled to the semifinal match up. The rest, of course, is well known. still had to scrape out a 4 2 come from behind win over Finland just 36 hours later to claim the gold medal.

Photo: Uncredited, Associated Press

The Miracle on Ice: Team USA beats the USSR, 1980 Winter.

USSR defeats USA men’s basketball team, 1972 Summer Olympics

Not only was this one of the biggest upsets in sports history, it was also one of the most controversial. Team USA had never lost a game in the Olympics up to that point, 63 0 overall. The Americans led 50 49 with three seconds left when the Soviets inbounded the ball but were then awarded a timeout and three seconds on the clock. On the next play, Team USA deflected an inbound pass out of bounds and thought they had won. But the officials including the then president of FIBA said the clock had not properly been reset and gave the Soviets another chance which they took advantage of, clinching an improbable 51 50 win that many Team USA supporters still dispute to this day.

USSR defeats USA men’s basketball team, 1972 Summer Olympics

Rulon Gardner defeats Aleksandr Karelin at the 2000 Summer Olympics

Russian wrestler Aleksandr Karelin had won gold medals at three straight Olympics 1988, 1992, 1996 before he was upset by American Rulon Gardner in 2000. After squeaking out a 1 0 lead after the first two rounds, Gardner clung to that lead throughout the overtime period, securing the gold medal and knocking off one of the most dominant athletes in the sport.

Photo: KATSUMI KASAHARA, Associated Press

Rulon Gardner defeats Aleksandr Karelin at the 2000 Summer.

Texas Western defeats Kentucky for 1966 NCAA mens basketball title

Defeating Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky team was tough enough. But there was also a cultural element to the match up: it pitted Tex West’s all black lineup against Rupp’s all white lineup, something of a symbolic battle of the ongoing Civil Rights movement. Though they were heavy underdogs, Tex West pulled off the 72 65 upset, knocking off the legendary Wildcats and also jumpstarting integration in the NCAA.

Photo: Associated Press

Texas Western defeats Kentucky for 1966 NCAA mens basketball. State topples Houston in the 1983 NCAA men’s basketball title game

Houston was supposed to cruise to a championship, led by Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, dubbed Phi Slamma Jamma. But Jim Valvano’s No. State Wolfpack rolled through higher seeded teams UNLV, Virginia, and Georgia on the way to an improbable Championship Game appearance. Matching Houston’s aggressiveness and keeping the game close, the Wolfpack brought home the title with one of the most memorable endings in sports history. When Dereck Whittenburg’s desperation shot fell just short of the rim, teammate Lorenzo Charles dunked home the winning shot as time expired, sending the team, and their legendary coach, into a joyful delirium. State topples Houston in the 1983 NCAA men’s basketball title.

The Georgetown Hoyas, the defending NCAA men’s basketball champion at the 1985 tournament, figured they’d have an easy time knocking off that year’s Cinderella, Villanova, in the final. But eighth seeded Villanova had already upset No. 1 seed Michigan, No. 5 seed Maryland, No. 2 seed North Carolina en route to the Final Four where they then knocked off No. 2 Memphis State. The Wildcats had the hot hand in shooting and stuck close to Patrick Ewing and Georgetown, managing to hold on for a 66 64 upset. They are still the lowest seed to ever win the men’s tournament.Articles Connexes: