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History of 2 vs. 15 seeds in the NCAA Tournament

We go over how often the 15-seed has upset the 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Oral Roberts Golden Eagles guard Max Abmas celebrates with forward Kevin Obanor after gaining possession on a jump ball against Ohio State Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell during the second half in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Mackey Arena. Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: Saint Peter’s upset Kentucky in the first round with an 85-79 win. It is the first time John Calipari has lost a first round game as the head coach at Kentucky.

The first one was famously the Syracuse Orange falling to the Richmond Spiders in 1991, but since the occasional but delightful 15 seed vs. 2 seed upset in the NCAA Tournament has led to great theater. Below we take a look at the history of the 2 vs 15 seed matchup:

History of 2 vs. 15 seed matchup in NCAA Tournament

According to NCAA.com, since the NCAA Tournament field expanded back in 1985, 15 seeds have a 9-135 record against 2 seeds. Since the 2012 NCAA Tournament, we have seen five 2 seeds pull off the big upset. Most recently in 2021 Oral Roberts took down Ohio State where Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor stole the show. That was the first 2 seed over 15 seed upset since 2016.

A big 15 seed over 2 seed upset that almost all college basketball fans should remember is Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown back in 2013. Head coach Andy Enfield led the Eagles to a major upset over the Hoyas and caught the eyes of basketball fans across the country. Fans were calling Florida Gulf Coast “Dunk City” as the Eagles were throwing down some crazy athleticism in the NCAA Tournament.

Here are the 2-15 matchups in the 2022 NCAA Tournament:

West: No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Cal State Fullerton
South: No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 15 Delaware
East: No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 St. Peter’s
Midwest: No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State

There’s a slim chance we see a miracle in any March Madness tourney, and Duke and Nova have a history of faltering early in the tournament. Back in 2012, Duke lost to CJ McCollum and Lehigh in the first round of the tourney as a 2-seed. But Villanova historically only does poorly in the first round as a lower seed, not when they’re this big a favorite.

It might be tough to find a 15 vs. 2 shocker on this year’s feed. But if it were to happen the oddsmakers think it will come at the expense of Villanova, who are the smallest favorite of the No. 2 seeds at 15.5 points at DraftKings Sportsbook.