Gregorian Chants

Jayhawks hope to avoid joining history of No. 2 seeds losing to 15s

Georgetown players and personnel reacted on the bench in the final minutes in the round of 64 against Florida Gulf Coast on March 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. Florida Gulf Coast won 78-68.
Georgetown players and personnel reacted on the bench in the final minutes in the round of 64 against Florida Gulf Coast on March 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. Florida Gulf Coast won 78-68. The Associated Press

Since the NCAA began seeding the entire tournament field in 1979, No. 1 seeds are 120-0 — still perhaps the closest thing to a sure thing in all of sports. Number 2 seeds have a lopsided advantage, too, going 113-7.

But those seven victories by No. 15 seeds, including three since 2011, at least make plausible the idea of the upset.

As second-seeded Kansas prepares to take on No. 15 New Mexico State Friday in Omaha, here’s a glance back at the moments KU will try to avert:

▪ 2013: Florida Gulf Coast 78, Georgetown 68

The last word: “They couldn’t match our energy,” FGCU’s Bernard Thompson said. “We just kept the pressure up. We wanted to keep attacking them until they cracked. And they cracked.”

▪ 2012: Lehigh 75, Duke 70

The last word: “I don’t think a lot of these big schools, they don’t really expect the smaller guys to come out and come out swinging,” Lehigh’s Jordan Hamilton said.

▪ 2012: Norfolk State 86, Missouri 84

The last word: “Because you don’t see them on TV, the guys don’t know their players,” MU coach Frank Haith said. “You worry they don’t understand that, hey, these guys are pretty darn good. And you get in an NCAA Tournament on a neutral court (in Omaha), the fans cheer for the underdog, and that’s what happens.”

▪ 2001: Hampton 58, Iowa State 57

The last word: “It’s just devastating to go out like this,” guard Kantrail Horton said

▪ 1997: Coppin State 78, South Carolina 65

The last word: “We didn’t even know it was South Carolina out there,” Coppin’s Reggie Welch said. “We kept on getting confidence, and before you knew it, we were up. We took it five minutes at a time — there’s five minutes, there’s five more.’’

▪ 1993: Santa Clara 64, Arizona 61

The last word: The team “didn’t panic,” Santa Clara coach Dick Davey said. “I did, but they didn’t.”

▪ 1991: Richmond 73, Syracuse 69

The last word: “The reason a 15 beats a 2 is because during that time frame, they played better basketball,” former Richmond coach Dick Tarrant told the Newark Star-Ledger in 2012. “The better basketball team is obviously the No. 2. But during that 40-minute time frame, the team that plays the better basketball wins.”

Go here for more coverage of the NCAA Tournament.

To reach Vahe Gregorian, call 816-234-4868 or send email to vgregorian@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @vgregorian. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

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