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WVUPros.com Top Ten Sports Upsets of All Time

Thursday night the West Virginia basketball team will try to pull off an upset for the ages as they take on the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. If somehow WVU can do what many analysts are saying is impossible, and beat Kentucky Thursday night, it would go down as one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history. In honor of West Virginia attempting to make underdog history we put together our own list of the top ten upsets in sports history.
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1980 US Hockey Team

#10 – The Cincinnati Reds 1990 World Series Championship –  In 1990 the Reds swept the heavily favored A’s  four games to none in one of the most lopsided World Series in history.  The juggernaut A’s featured studs such as Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Dave Stewart and no one gave the Reds much of a chance. The Reds took game 1, 7-0 and set the tone for the unlikely sweep which stunned the baseball world.

#9 – “Upset defeats Man-O-War –  How could we leave off the namesake of the phrase “upset”.  In 1919 Whitney’s Upset beat the legendary Man-O-War in the Sanford Stakes in a neck and neck finish.  The 100 to 1 longshot’s victory was the only defeat of Man-O War’s illustrious career and gave birth to the term “upset”.

#8 – Rulon Gardner’s 2000 Gold Medal Victory –    In the 200o Summer Olympics U.S.A.’s Rulon Gardner won the Gold medal by defeating Russia’s Alexander Kerelin.  Prior to the 2000 Olympics Gardner had never finished better than 5th in an international competition. Kerelin however had not lost an international match in 15 years and was un-scored upon in the previous ten years.  Gardner pulled off the dramatic upset by gaining a 1-0 decision over Kerelin and taking home gold.

#7 – NC State beats Houston in the 1983 NCAA Final – Jim Valvano’s  North Carolina Wolfpack took down a Houston Cougars team full of future NBA stars.  The Cougars featured NBA household names such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler but still fell to Valvano’s scrappy NC State squad 54-52.  The image of Jimmy Valvano sprinting onto the court at the end of the game to celebrate with his players in one of the most memorable images in college basketball history.

#6 – Appalachian State Takes Down Mighty Michigan –  On September 1st 2007, The Appalachian State Mountaineers traveled to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines in the Big House. For the 5th ranked Wolverines Appalachian State was supposed to be nothing more than an early season FCS level tune up game.  The 27 point underdog Mountaineers left the 100,000 plus crowd in stunned disbelief as they came away with a 34-32 victory. Some would say Michigan football still has not recovered.

#5 – Villanova Defeats Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA Final –  In 1985 Villanova made an unlikely run to the NCAA Finals as an 8 seed. There they met the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament the #1 seeded Georgetown Hoyas. Villanova would turn in one of the most impressive shooting performances (78%) in finals history and go on to beat the Hoyas 66-64.

#4 – The Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III – Joe Namath’s bold prediction that the New York Jets would beat the Colts became legend in Super Bowl III as the Jets beat the Colts 16-7. The win changed the NFL forever and paved the way for what the Super Bowl would eventually evolve into.

#3 – The New York Giants Super Bowl –  The Giants entered the game as 12 point underdogs against the previously undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.  In a game full of iconic plays the Giants won in come from behind fashion 17-14. The Giants victory ended the Patriots bid for an undefeated season and gave the Giants their third Super Bowl title.

#2 – James “Buster” Douglas Knocks Out Mike Tyson – In 1990 Mike Tyson was the undisputed Heavyweight champion of the world and was plowing through the heavyweight division like a wrecking ball.  Tyson was seen as unstoppable and the fight with Buster Douglas was viewed as nothing more than a small speed bump in Tyson’s career.  Douglas was installed as a 42 to 1 underdog for the bout.  In the tenth round Buster Douglas was the first heavyweight to knockdown Mike Tyson and then became the first to ultimately knock Tyson out. Like Michigan, Tyson also never recovered from the loss and was never the same Mike Tyson he had been prior to the Douglas fight.

#1 – The U.S. Hockey Team Beats the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics – “The Miracle on Ice” was just that, as a group of college kids defeated the Soviet Union 4-3 in the most shocking upset in sports history. The Soviet Union were considered far and away the most dominant and elite hockey team in international competition. They were the overwhelming favorite to skate to their fifth gold medal in the previous five Olympics. The Soviet Union had already man handled the United States in an exhibition match 10-3 just prior to the start of the Olympic games. Its hard to draw comparisons on what a David vs. Goliath match up this was but imagine a group of FBS college players beating the New England Patriots. That is why the “Miracle on Ice” tops our list.  Can the Mountaineers join our list? They will certainly need an effort like those in our countdown put forth to get the job done.

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