A year of upsets

The 2010-2011 year in sports has been a rough one for some, a miracle for others, mainly because of the amount of upsets that have occurred in the NFL, NCAA, NBA and most recently, the NHL.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of upsets, even when I’m cheering for the dominant team. It gives me a sense of hope that in the future, when my underdog team is down, a comeback is possible. As a result, I would like to personally rank what I believe were the top five upsets in 2011.

5.) Saints vs. Seahawks in the NFC wild card playoff game

During last year’s Superbowl, I wasn’t ashamed to say that I was rooting for the Saints. They were the clear underdogs during that game, and came off with a clean win giving them the Superbowl XLIV title. It seemed like they were the heroes, winning for “Katrina” “The people” and whatever else they could milk out of it. So when it came down to them playing the (8-9) Seahawks, it was expected that their track record of (11-6) and their confidence from last season would barely make it a game. Well, as we all know it was quite the contrary. With a 34-20 lead coming into the fourth, many were expecting Brees to whip up another one of his comeback plays. Instead, their fans were left with a mix of anticipation and disappointment as the clock winded down, leading to a final scored of 41-36, Seahawks.

4.) Game 7, Vancouver Canucks vs. Boston Bruins

Although I didn’t get around to watching this game, I heard all about it hours after the game via Twitter, explosive texts, Facebook posts, you name it. It was another one of those games that defined one’s patriotism despite whether or not they were hockey fans.

The game wasn’t portrayed as the Bruins vs. the Canucks, it was America vs. Canada, the one country that always seems to beat us at hockey (and with good reason). Although the final game will be remembered as the one upset, it can really be appreciated as five upsets (out of the seven). The final game seem to seal the deal by blowing the Canucks out of the water with a 4-0 final score. To put that in perspective, the Canucks scored a total of four goals during the last five games. What’s more, is that the Bruins finally regained their title, after a long 39 years.

3.) Game Six, Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks

The much anticipated NBA final game only made it to Game Six, but it was one that should never of had the outcome that it did. It very well may be remembered as the game when the Heat lost, rather than when the Mavericks won. The dynamic trio of Lebron, Wade, and Bosh had many believing that the Heat would sweep the Mavericks, but in the early games of the finals, it was projected otherwise. Although the last game itself may have no been an upset, American can agree that few people truly believed the Mavericks would come out on top.

It became more and more difficult for non-Miami residents to root for the Heat as controversy swarmed their mocking of Dirk Nowitzki, who was on fire during the fourth quarter of Game Six. Regardless, many still believed that Lebron would come around. As his fourth-quarter contributions began to dwindle to nothing, the Heat did nothing to counter that pattern, putting the Mavericks at a ten point lead to finish 105-95.

2.) NCAA March Madness Second Round Butler vs. Pittsburgh

Not a lot of people would agree with me on this one, as the entire NCAA bracket was a mess this year. Arguably, every other game was an upset in some way, shape or form. But I can’t help but believe that the entire bracket was messed up because of Butler.

No one saw a win from them, that’s pretty obvious, but what truly made this game shocking was Matt Howard’s free throw with 0.8 seconds left. Again, not a whole lot of people predicted #11 Butler to win by a single point over #1 Pittsburgh. Even more shocking is knowing that they would eventually make it to the final championship game versus UCONN, of all teams. Yes, it’s hard to classify which upset was more upsetting during March Madness, but you can at least be assured that the game between Butler and Pittsburgh (or at least the last second of it) is one that many people probably will continue to reference for the next century or so.

1.) Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

I don’t even need to reference when or where this happened. This game reminds me of when Osama Bin Laden was finally shot. Twitter chaos ensued, thousands rushed the field, and many fail to remember what happened later that night.

Yes, it was that mid-October win between #18 Wisconsin and #1 Ohio State that I can honestly classify as the biggest upset of 2011. It was the first time since 1981 that the Badgers had beaten a #1 ranked football team. It felt like a Championship game to many–and to this day that game is marked as a bigger deal than the Badgers making it to the Rose Bowl. Many saw the upset coming, with the Badgers securing a 21-3 lead in the half. But with 11:38 left in the fourth, only three points separated the Badgers from a win over the Buckeyes, with a score of 21-18. With another touchdown a field goal to secure the deal, the Badgers walked away with a final score of 31-18, and a moment in history that no Wisconsinite can ever afford to forget.

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