Incredible Upsets Headlined by Unlikely Heroes in March Madness


Courtesy of Patrick Smith from Getty Images

Saint Peter’s sensation Doug Edert

*Editor’s Note: While the following article isn’t really true to the April Fools theme Matt Rudella claimed he might throw hands if the EICs didn’t let him write this piece this week.


Yup, you guessed it. We have had ourselves another March Madness Tournament filled with complete chaos, and seemingly every consensus Final Four team lost before they even made it to the Sweet 16. We saw this happen with teams like No. 1 seed Baylor University and No. 2 seed Auburn University losing in the Round of 32. We also saw odds on favorite Gonzaga University lose to the University of Arkansas in the Sweet 16. A Sweet 16 appearance isn’t too shabby, but an exit that early for Gonzaga was very disappointing considering they were picked to win it all in a staggering 27 percent of ESPN Brackets, and had tons of hype going into the tournament with the dynamic duo of Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren. 

The second-best favorite, University of Arizona, also had a shockingly miserable finish to their season after losing to University of Houston in the Sweet 16, and barely scraped by Texas Christian University in the Round of 32 thanks to a last-second-pointer by all-American guard Bennedict Mathurin. The bracket started with your typical 512, 611 upsets with No. 12 seeds New Mexico State University and the University of Richmond and No. 11 seeds University of Michigan, the University of Notre Dame, and Iowa State University all winning. This doesn’t exactly blow anyone’s socks off, as a No. 12 seed has won about 35 percent of the time going into the tourney, and a No. 11 seed has upset a six seed in every tournament since 2005. Nothing to report about, right? 

Well … not so fast. We saw one of the greatest upsets in the history of March Madness with No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s University beating No. 2 seed University of Kentucky. Kentucky looked poised for another big run in the tournament, with a deep, veteran group littered with future NBA draft picks. They were picked to go to the final four by ESPN’s lead March Madness analyst Joe Lunardi and in 31 percent of ESPN brackets. But a small, gritty team from Jersey City had other ideas and beat Kentucky 85–79 in the first round. You could make the case that this is the biggest upset in March Madness history, or at least on paper. Kentucky spends $18.3 million on its basketball program, while Saint Peter’s spends just $1.6 million. This is the biggest difference in expenditures in an upset since it began being tracked in 2007. The crazy numbers don’t stop there. Saint Peter’s undergraduate enrollment is just under 2,200 students and only 852 men. For context, Oberlin has over 2,900 students.  

Saint Peter’s Point Guard Doug Edert became America’s hero after scoring 20 points off the bench for the Peacocks while looking like your average frat guy. Social media bought into the juice quickly, and wasted no time hyping them up for a potential run in the tournament. Saint Peter’s did just that. 

College Fourth-year football player Matt Siff was a huge fan of the Saint Peter’s team. 

“They had such a strong passion and love for the game, you could see it in their eyes and the way they played, that they wanted to win so badly.” Siff said. 

They went on to beat Murray State University 70–60 in the second round, making them the second No. 15 seed to make the Sweet 16, along with the magical Oral Roberts University squad from last year. But just when you thought they didn’t have any magic left, the Peacocks somehow pulled out another improbable win against a loaded Purdue University team after being down at halftime. They traded blows for much of the second half and closed the game out with some clutch free throws by, you guessed it, Doug Edert. To put in perspective how unlikely this run was, if you bet $100 on each Saint Peter’s win, you would’ve won a total of $2,275. It’s safe to say Vegas got burned on these odds, as 82 percent of the dollars wagered were on Saint Peter’s in their Purdue win. 

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and the magic ended in an ugly fashion in the Elite Eight with a blowout to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Even though it didn’t end with the unlikely Saint Peter’s championship we all wanted, we still have to appreciate the jolt of cheers and excitement that Saint Peter’s brought, and how a tiny school in Jersey City, that no one had heard of two weeks ago, had all of us rallying around a TV and cheering for every basket like we’ve been diehard fans our entire lives. 

“They really proved why March is the best sports month of the year, and truly anything is possible,” Siff said. 

Even though we knew their run would ruin our brackets, it didn’t matter because everyone likes to see David take down Goliath, to see a team of five stars lose to a team of underlooked but talented players who have had to scrap for every opportunity. It doesn’t matter if you have millions and millions in funding or little to none, at the end of the day you have to play on the same court, and March shows us that anybody can be beaten on any given day. 

Saint Peter’s Head Coach Shaheen Holloway said it best, “I’ve got guys from New Jersey and New York City, you think we’re scared of anything? You think we’re worried about guys trying to muscle us and tough us out? We do that. That’s who we are.” 

This kind of attitude led by Coach Holloway is why they were so successful in the tournament. They realized that seeding, or the hype of blue-blood talent and regular season accolades means nothing once the game starts. You have to earn your keep every game you play, and Saint Peter’s did exactly that.