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Has a No. 16 seed ever beaten a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament?

The upset of all upsets took 33 years, and for one school it remains the signature moment in their sports history.

2023 update: History has happened again! The No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights upset the No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers 63-58 to advance to the second round.

We’re finally to March. Over the next two weeks, we will see every team battle it out in their conference tournament trying to get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and for teams who are likely already in, trying to boost their resume for a higher seed. Below we take a look at the history of the 1 vs 16 seed matchup.

No. 16 seeds are 1-143 all-time. According to, there have only been 15 games between 1 and 16 seeds decided by 10 points or less. Besides the biggest upset in college basketball, the last close game between a 16 seed and 1 seed was in 2014 where Arizona beat Weber State 68-59. However, in 2018, the UMBC Retrievers shocked the world in their blowout win over the number one overall seed Virginia Cavaliers.

No. 16 UMBC 74, No. 1 Virginia 54

This game remains unforgettable to me because UMBC is in my hometown. They were led by Jairus Lyles, who was tremendous in the postseason that year. Lyles hit a game winning three-pointer with less then 10 seconds left to take down Vermont in the America East conference championship.

Heading into the first round, nobody thought UMBC had a shot and why would they? A 16 seed had never beaten a 1 seed in history and the fact that it was against the number one overall seed made it even tougher. The Retrievers were scared at all however. From tip-off until the clock hit zero, they dominated Virginia. Beating the 1 seed was a major upset itself, but winning in dominant fashion by a score of 74-54 is insane.

And if you think it’s unlikely that the No. 1 overall seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament won’t fall in the first 40 minutes, you can be well compensated at DraftKings Sportsbook. DK is offering a promotion where you can have the Gonzaga Bulldogs at even money to beat the No. 16 seed Georgia State Panthers in the first round this year.