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The Colonial Athletic Association: The NCAA Tournament’s Giant Slayer 1

Posted on March 06, 2010 by Dean Hybl
The 1991 NCAA Tournament win by Richmond over Syracuse marked the first time a 15 seed had ever defeated a number two seed.

The 1991 NCAA Tournament win by Richmond over Syracuse marked the first time a 15 seed had ever defeated a number two seed.

When the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament begins later this month there will be lots of talk about Cinderella’s and which previously unknown teams from obscure conferences will shatter the Final Four dreams of schools from top-tier leagues.

For more than a quarter century, schools from one mid-level conference have set the standard for crashing the dance during March Madness.

Based in the mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) has created an impressive resume of NCAA Tournament upsets.

Even before the league officially formed in 1985, some of its original members were harassing the “big boys” during the NCAA Tournament.

Between 1981 and 1983, James Madison University (as a member of the CAA predecessor the ECAC South), made three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and each season knocked off a big conference opponent. Their victims were all marquee programs in West Virginia, Ohio State and Georgetown.

JMU also nearly pulled off what would have gone down as one of the biggest upsets in tournament history as they gave eventual National Champion North Carolina all they could handle during the second round of the 1982 NCAA Tournament. UNC needed a controversial charge call on JMU in the final minute to pull out a 52-50 victory.

The University of Richmond (a member of the ECAC South and then a CAA member from 1985-2001) is now known as the only team in NCAA Tournament history to win games as a 12, 13, 14 and 15 seed, however, in 1984 they were a national unknown when head coach Dick Tarrant led the Spiders into the tournament. Read the rest of this entry →

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