College Basketball

NCAA Tournament: The History of No. 14 Seeds Over No. 3 Seeds

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14-seeds offer a good balance of probability and unpredictability. They are often teams from mid-major conferences that have proven themselves during the regular season and have earned their spot in the tournament but are still underdogs compared to the more established power conference teams. This makes them a tempting pick for bracket enthusiasts looking for upsets but not wanting to go too far out on a limb. It’s a delicate balance that makes predicting the outcome of these matchups both challenging and exciting. Let’s take a look at some 14-seeds that have pulled it off.

No. 14 Seeds vs. No. 3 Seeds All-Time Stats

  • 22-126: Record for 14 seeds vs. No. 3 seeds
  • 14.9 percent: Overall winning percentage for 14 seeds since 1985
  • 14: Largest margin of victory for a 14 seed; Ohio over Georgetown (97-83) and Stephen F. Austin over West Virginia (70-56)
  • 1: Smallest margin of victory for a 14 seed; seven times, first by Austin Peay over Illinois (68-67)
  • 2: Buzzer-beater wins for 14 seeds: Northern Iowa vs. Missouri (1990), Northwestern State vs. Iowa (2006)
  • 2: 14 seeds to win at least two games: Cleveland State (1986) and Chattanooga (1997)

2023 NCAA Tournament No.14 Seeds vs. No. 3 Seeds

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The History of No. 14 vs No. 3

The 1986 NCAA Tournament will be remembered as one of the wildest in college basketball history. While it’s best known for featuring the first-ever double-digit seed to reach the Final Four – an impressive feat accomplished by 11th-seeded LSU – it also saw two No. 14 seeds pull off shocking upsets. Cleveland State toppled Indiana, while Arkansas Little Rock sent Notre Dame packing, much to fans’ surprise everywhere. It was only the second year of the 64-team field, and in the inaugural year, none of the No. 14 seeds came within nine points of a No. 3 seed. However, the 1986 tournament kicked off a streak of No. 14 seeds winning at least one game that lasted until 1993, and since then, these upsets have occurred regularly. While the seven-year stretch with a No. 14 seed winning at least one game is the longest on record, it’s far from the only such streak in the history of March Madness.

Year Winner Loser Score
1986 Cleveland State Indiana 83-79
1986 Arkansas Little-Rock Notre Dame 90-83
1987 Austin Peay Illinois 68-67
1988 Murray State NC State 78-75
1989 Siena Stanford 80-78
1990 Northern Iowa Missouri 74-71
1991 Xavier Nebraska 89-84
1992 ETSU Arizona 87-80
1995 Old Dominion Villanova 89-81
1995 Weber State Michigan State 79-72
1997 Chattanooga Georgia 73-70
1998 Richmond South Carolina 62-61
1999 Weber State North Carolina 76-74
2005 Bucknell Kansas 64-63
2006 Northwestern State Iowa 64-63
2010 Ohio Georgetown 97-83
2013 Harvard New Mexico 68-62
2014 Mercer Duke 78-71
2015 UAB Iowa State 60-59
2015 Georgia State Baylor 57-56
2016 Stephen F. Austin West Virginia 70-56
2021 Abilene Christian Texas 53-52

Some Memorable No. 14 Over No. 3 Upsets

No. 14 Ohio 97, No. 3 Georgetown 83 – March 19, 2010

In a stunning upset during the 2010 NCAA Tournament, the 14th-seeded Ohio Bobcats, representing the Mid-American Conference, dominated the third-seeded Georgetown Hoyas with a final score of 97-83. The Hoyas, who had played four grueling games just the week before in the physical Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, appeared sluggish and worn out on defense, allowing 48 points in the first half alone. Despite efforts to mount a comeback after falling behind 66-49 early in the second half, the Hoyas could not make enough stops on the perimeter, ultimately sealing their defeat and adding them to this list of fallen Goliaths.

NCAA Tournament: The History of No. 14 Seeds Over No. 3 Seeds


No. 14 East Tennessee State 87, No. 3 Arizona 80 – March 20, 1992

In front of a mostly-ETSU crowd of 12,725 at the Omni, the Buccaneers pulled off an impressive upset, becoming the eighth No. 14 seed in NCAA Tournament history to win a first-round game with an 87-80 victory over the No. 3 seeded Wildcats. The Bucs exuded confidence and even cockiness, having lost in the first round for three straight years. They spoke all week about their desire to play a second game and drew strength from their preseason NIT loss to Arizona the previous year. The Bucs turned that confidence into success, showcasing their quickness and brilliant three-point shooting by sinking 13 out of 25 attempts from beyond the arc (52%). Arizona would go on to win the national title just two years later in 1994.

NCAA Tournament: The History of No. 14 Seeds Over No. 3 Seeds

After four seasons of professional baseball in the San Diego Padres system, Colin was featured as a freelance sports writer in numerous publications. He enjoys handicapping and writing about sports wagering while covering the MLB, NBA, NFL, PGA, and multiple college sports. Colin attended and played baseball at St. John's University in Queens, NY. He enjoys traveling with his wife, Ana, and two sons, Enzo and Wes.

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