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Biggest Upsets In NCAA History

Biggest Upsets In NCAA History
Everyone knows about Wake Forest, Virginia, Ohio State, and USC. The nation's top men's tennis teams are the favorites and ready for action as the round of 16 at the NCAA Division I Tennis Championships is set to begin next week. But what about some of the lower seeded teams lurking off in the distance? Could this be the year a No. 8-, 9- or even 10-seeded team gets hot at just the right time to win college tennis' ultimate prize? 

There's no better time than now to look at some of the past top upsets at the NCAA Men's Championships.

2005: No. 7 UCLA upset No. 1 Baylor 4-3 (Championship Match)
In 2005, UCLA snapped Baylor's 57-match winning streak, the second longest in NCAA history to win head coach Billy Martin's first NCAA title with a come-from-behind classic 4-3 win against the Bears at College Station, Texas, after being down 0-3 in the match. 

With the match tied a 3-3, UCLA's No. 3 singles player, Kris Kwinta, clinched the win for the Bruins, registering a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Baylor's Lars Poerschke.

The seventh-seeded UCLA team registered wins over the No. 1, 2, and 3 teams in the nation over the previous three days in the improbable run to the title. 

2004: UCLA upset Illinois (Semifinals)
Just one year before in 2004, the Bruins pulled off another epic upset as they ended Illinois' run of 64 straight victories with a 4-2 win in the NCAA semifinals but came out flat in the final match, falling to Baylor 4-0.

2002: No. 11 USC upset No. 1 Georgia (Championship Match)
In legendary USC coach Dick Leach's final year, the No. 11-seeded Trojans upset No. 3 Illinois in the quarterfinals, No. 2 Tennessee in the semifinals, and No. 1 Georgia in the championship match. And that was all after barely escaping No. 6 Baylor 4-3 in the round of 16.

1974 & 1983: Stanford 
Stanford has been no stranger to NCAA Championship matches, especially when coach Dick Gould was leading the Cardinal. Gould, who is now Stanford's director of tennis, recently spoke to us about the Cardinal's top NCAA upsets and said there were two years that stand out for him: his 1974 team after losing his top two players at the end of the season and 1983 with five freshmen in the top seven. 

"Those are the years that stand out most," said Gould, who coached from 1966 to 2004 and marked his 50th year with Stanford tennis in 2016. "John Whitlinger of course led us in 1974, helping us win the team title and he also won the singles and doubles titles.

The defending champs in 1974, Gould said he thought the chances for a repeat were slim to none after defending NCAA singles and doubles champion Alex Mayer left the team after Ojai and Amateur Clay Court winner Pat DuPre was sidelined for the postseason by a wrist injury. But Stanford got a huge lift from Chico Hagey. He dominated in the NCAAs, losing serve just once over the seven rounds.

Before Stanford and Gould had yet to win any titles, the Cardinal were on the other side of the upset in 1972. Trinity College of Texas -- led by Brian Gottfried and Dick Stockton -- beat a powerful Stanford team in the final in the first year Athens, GA, hosted the event. 

Led by underclassmen Scott Davis, Jim Grabb, John Letts, Eric Rosenfeld, and Dan Goldie, Stanford beat SMU in the championship match in 1983.

Having lost to UCLA three times during the regular season, Stanford came up against a powerhouse and unbeaten Bruins team in 1996 that was led by Justin Gimelstob.

But led by four All-Americans -- Paul Goldstein, Jeff Salzenstein, Jim Thomas, and Ryan Wolters -- Stanford overcame several match points to upset Georgia in the semifinals, setting up a rematch with Pac-12 rival UCLA in Athens with the Cardinal coming out on top 4-1. 

Despite the victory, Stanford still finished No. 2 in the national rankings to UCLA, which many observers felt was unfair after the Bruins had just suffered a championship loss to the Cardinal. Because of the uproar in the postseason rankings, a rule was instituted that the NCAA champion would from this point on be automatically named the postseason No. 1 team.

2009: USC
Upsets abounded during Peter Smtih's first NCAA team title in 2009 as the Trojans returned to the site of their 2002 title: College Station, Texas. The No. 8-seeded Trojans beat Stanford and then upset No. 1 Virginia in the quarterfinals with a 4-0 blanking. Next up was a 4-1 win over Texas in semifinal in front of a Longhorn-heavy crowd to move into the title match. Up against No. 3 seed Ohio State, USC found magic once again for one final upset to hoist the championship trophy.

In the Oh-So-Close department, you have to rank the Bobby Reynolds-led Vanderbilt team right up there. In 2003, the Commodores got hot at the right time and advanced all the way to the final, only to fall 4-3 to a powerhouse, Amer Delic-led Illinois team in the championship match. 

We'll know shortly whether or not another upset will be added to the books. Check back for coverage of both the men's and women's NCAA tournaments here.

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