It had been 11 years since a 15th-seeded team won in the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament, and then it happened twice in less than three hours.
Lehigh University pulled off one of the biggest upsets in tournament history, defeating four-time national champion Duke University. That shocker came after another No. 15 seed, Norfolk State, beat No. 2 Missouri.
Lehigh (27-7), which never had won in four previous NCAA appearances, triumphed 75-70 against Duke, which has 96 NCAA wins and a national championship as recently as 2010.
“The game has taken me to incredible highs and the game will take you to incredible lows,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a televised interview. “Today is one of those incredible lows.”
Four No. 2 seeds had lost their opening game at the tournament since 1985, most recently in 2001 when Hampton defeated Iowa State.
Yesterday, Virginia-based Norfolk State ousted Missouri 86-84 in the West Regional and then Lehigh, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, defeated the Blue Devils (27-7) in the South Regional.
Missouri was a 20 1/2-point favorite in Las Vegas odds, while Duke was favored by 12 points.
The Lehigh upset occurred in Greensboro, North Carolina, about an hour away from Duke’s campus in Durham. Duke had been a perfect 12-0 in NCAA tournament games in Greensboro and 32-4 in tournament games in the state of North Carolina.
C.J. McCollum, the Patriot League player of the year, had 30 points to lead Lehigh.
“I told our guys we really needed to suspend disbelief,” said Lehigh coach Brett Reed. “We had confidence and belief in ourselves.”
Norfolk State (26-9) got 26 points and 14 rebounds from Kyle O’Quinn in its defeat of Missouri.
“I feel good,” Norfolk State coach Anthony Evans said in a televised interview. “They played hard, they did what we asked them to do.”
The third round begins today with three Big East conference and three Big Ten conference teams in action.
Syracuse (32-2), a Big East team and one of the four regional No. 1 seeds, plays Kansas State in the East Regional. No. 2 seed Ohio State of the Big Ten faces Gonzaga in another East Regional matchup, while No. 4 seed Wisconsin of the Big Ten takes on No. 5 Vanderbilt in another game in that regional.
In the South Regional, top seed Kentucky (33-2) plays Iowa State, fourth-seeded Indiana of the Big Ten plays Virginia Commonwealth and No. 3 Baylor meets Colorado.
In the West Regional, Big East tournament champion Louisville plays New Mexico and Marquette of the Big East goes against Murray State.
The teams that won yesterday play their third-round games tomorrow. Lehigh faces Xavier and Norfolk State plays Florida.
Michigan State, the top seed in the West Regional, defeated Long Island University yesterday and moved on to play Saint Louis. Cincinnati will meet Florida State in the East Regional.
All teams in the Midwest Regional were in action yesterday, setting up third-round games tomorrow between top-seeded North Carolina and Creighton; South Florida and Ohio, which upset fourth-seeded Michigan; third-seeded Georgetown and North Carolina State, and Purdue and No. 2 seed Kansas.
The NCAA tournament concludes April 2 in New Orleans.