Has A 15-Seeded Team Ever Made The Elite 8 In March Madness?
The first NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament took place in 1939 and included eight teams. By 1985, the tournament had expanded to include 64 teams that competed across the nation. Today, 68 teams compete annually in the biggest basketball tournament of the year, which is known across America as “March Madness.”
In tournament history, a Number 15 seed has knocked off the Number Two seed on 10 occasions. However, only three Number 15 seeds have followed up their initial upsets by winning their second-round games. In 2022, Saint Peter’s University made history by becoming the only 15-seed to ever make the Elite Eight, winning their games in the First Round, the Second Round, and the Sweet 16. Read on to learn about Saint Peter’s magnificent run below.
No. 15 Saint Peter’s vs. No. 2 Kentucky (2022, First Round)
Saint Peter’s earned an automatic bid to the 2022 NCAA Tournament after winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament over Monmouth. With a record of 20-11, the Peacocks were selected to play the second-seeded Kentucky Wildcats in the First Round. Entering the game, Kentucky was led by eventual Wooden Award winner Oscar Tshiebwe, who was averaging 17.4 points and 15.1 rebounds, and Kentucky was selected as an 18-point favorite for the first-round matchup.
In a shocking upset, Saint Peter’s knocked off Kentucky 85-79 in overtime at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Even after a 30-point and 16-rebound performance from Oscar Tshiebwe, the Peacocks kept the game close, as sophomore guard Darryl Banks III scored 27 points. Off the bench, Doug Edert also quickly garnered national attention and headlines for his passionate 20-point performance. With their incredible, unexpected win, the Peacocks were off to the Second Round.
No. 15 Saint Peter’s vs. No. 7 Murray State (2022, Second Round)
After defeating Kentucky, and under the guidance of coach Shaheen Halloway, Saint Peter’s knocked off seventh-seeded Murray State in the Second Round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. After entering the game as an eight-point underdog, the Peacocks jumped out to a 32-27 halftime lead and held on to win by a final score of 70-60. With a balanced offensive attack and terrific free throw shooting, Saint Peter’s shocked the nation again and became only the third Number 15 seed to ever reach the Sweet 16.
No. 15 Saint Peter’s vs. No. 3 Purdue (2022, Sweet 16)
In the Sweet 16, Saint Peter’s victory over the Purdue Boilermakers made history for several reasons. After the 67-64 victory in the Wells Fargo Center, Saint Peter’s became the first 15-seed to reach the Elite Eight, and the first team to win two NCAA Tournament games as a double-digit underdog. Facing off against Jaden Ivey, a future NBA Lottery selection, the Peacocks’ defense forced 14 turnovers and held Purdue to 23% shooting from three-point range.
No. 15 Saint Peter’s vs. No. 8 North Carolina (2022, Elite Eight)
Every Cinderella story comes to an end, either in ultimate victory or crushing defeat. For the first Number 15 seed to make the Elite Eight, a magnificent run ended in a 69-49 defeat to the North Carolina Tar Heels. Though the loss was devastating to Saint Peter’s, they would live on as the first Number 15 seed to ever have reached the March Madness quarterfinals.
Shortly following the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament, many players and coaches within the Saint Peter’s program sought out new schools and challenges. First, Shaheen Halloway accepted a role as the head coach at his alma mater, Seton Hall, and he took his entire coaching staff with him. Further, several Saint Peter’s players quickly opted to transfer colleges, with Seton Hall, La Salle, Bryant, St. Bonaventure, Southern Illinois, and Missouri State on the list of newly-selected schools.
Has a 15-seed ever made the Elite Eight in March Madness?
Yes, the Saint Peter’s Peacocks reached the Elite Eight as a Number 15 seed during the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Previously, a Number 15 seed had only advanced as far as the Sweet 16, a miraculous feat achieved by Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 and Oral Roberts in 2021. On their journey to the Elite Eight, Saint Peter’s defeated Kentucky, Murray State, and Purdue before eventually losing to North Carolina.