The Biggest March Madness Busts of the Past 35 Years
Every college basketball team starts the season with the same goal in mind—to win the national championship.
Of course, for some, the possibility is more realistic than others. Those teams often tend to roll through the regular season with only a few losses (if any). Many will win their respective conference titles and enter the NCAA Tournament as one of the higher-seeded teams.
For those teams, the expectations they began the season with will have blossomed into an apparent reality. They took care of business all season and earned their spot in the Dance. They just had to continue to take care of business to take their rightful place in college basketball history.
However, for some, their ‘rightful’ place became one no one wants after an early exit to a team no one has ever heard of.
As much as we love our champions, an argument could be made that we love our Tournament busts even more. Accolades and highlights are great and all but eventually lose their appeal. But talking trash about a team of superstars that fail to live up to the hype can go on forever.
March Madness has seen more than a few teams do just that. The following are only a few of some of the bigger busts in Tournament history:
The Biggest March Madness Busts Come in All Shapes and Sizes
2018 Virginia Cavaliers: Any discussion of tournament busts has to begin with the ’18 Cavaliers. Not only were the 31-3 Cavaliers the No. 1 seed in the South, but they
were the No. 1 seed in the Tournament and expected to win it all.
Instead, they made history by becoming the first No. 1 seed in tournament history to lose to a 16-seed.
2005 Connecticut Huskies: A talented UConn team entered the Tournament as a 2-seed with expectations that they would be in the mix down the road as the Madness progressed. Instead, they were ousted early in the second round to 10-seed North Carolina State.
2005 Syracuse Orange: After going on a great run to win the Big East Tournament, the Orange entered the Tournament with legitimate national title aspirations. Instead, they fell to 13-seed Vermont in the first round… From the Parking Lot!
2010 Kansas Jayhawks: Any time a team enters the Tournament as the No. 1 seed overall, the expectations are going to be high. They are certainly going to include more than a second-round exit to a 9-seeded team as the Jayhawks suffered in ’10.
1997 South Carolina Gamecocks: A case could be made that every 2-seed that lost in the opening round deserves to be on this list. But rather than create separate entries to talk about all of them (Michigan State in ‘16, Georgetown in ’13, Duke and Missouri in ’12, Iowa State in ’01, Arizona in ’93, and Syracuse in ’91), the Gamecocks will represent the group since they lost by the most significant margin (13 points to Coppin State, 78-65).
1994 North Carolina Tar Heels: With the talent, the Tar Heels had on the ’94 squad, they were expected to at least make it to their 14th consecutive Sweet Sixteen. But 9-seed Boston College had other ideas and took them down in the second round (75-72).
2004 Kentucky Wildcats: As the No. 1 seed overall, the Wildcats were expected to make a deep run with their talented roster. They looked the part with a 20-point win in the opening round, but then fell to 9-seed UAB in the second.
1985 Georgetown Hoyas: It may seem a little crazy to include a team that played in the Finals on this list. The uber-talented Hoyas led by Patrick Ewing were expected to make it two national titles in a row. But, instead, they made history by falling to an 8-seed (Villanova) in the title game.