Can Grand Canyon Capture First NCAA Tournament Win In School History?

Can Grand Canyon Capture First NCAA Tournament Win In School History?
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

The Grand Canyon University Lopes have a shot at history when they battle a one-time March Cinderella-turned-juggernaut in a 3-14 matchup Thursday.

The Lopes square off against Gonzaga in Denver, looking to pull off the program’s first win in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

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Thursday’s showdown is GCU’s second-ever tournament game, coming two years after it fell to Iowa in the opening round, 86-74.

The Bryce Drew-coached club will have its hands full, as Arizona betting apps oddsmakers currently have the Lopes at +950 and +15.5 against the Bulldogs., your home to all things Arizona sports betting, wanted to see how big of an upset it would be if GCU does knock off Gonzaga.

Biggest First Round Upsets In NCAA History

  • 2012: Norfolk State (+21) over Missouri 
  • 2018: UMBC (+20.5) over UVA 
  • 1997: Coppin State (+19) over South Carolina 
  • 2022: St. Peter’s (+18) over Kentucky 
  • 2001: Hampton (+17.5) over Iowa State 
  • 2016: Middle Tennessee State (+16.5) over Michigan State 
  • 2021: Oral Roberts (+16.5) over Ohio State 
  • 1999: Weber State (+15) over UNC 
  • 2010: Ohio (+14) over Georgetown 
  • 2015: UAB (+14) over Iowa State 
  • 2005: Bucknell (+13) over Kansas

Odds courtesy of BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona.

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Where A GCU Win Would Rank Historically

The current 15.5-point spread in Thursday’s GCU-Gonzaga showdown would be the seventh largest upset since 1997, sandwiched between Oral Roberts beating Ohio State in 2021 and Weber State slaying UNC in 1999.

The win would rank just behind last year’s 15-2 upset of St. Peter’s stunning Kentucky, where the Peacocks entered as an 18-point underdog, but ahead of a trio of 14-3 upsets, in Ohio over Georgetown, UAB over Iowa State and Bucknell over Kansas.

It also would serve as an about-face for Gonzaga, which went from the belle of the ball by knocking off seventh-seeded Minnesota, second seed Stanford, and Florida to reach the Elite Eight as a 10 seed in 1999 to becoming one of the top programs in the country.

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How GCU Got Here

The 24-11 Lopes made their second tournament, thanks to a strong surge down the stretch that included three wins in as many days to capture the WAC Tournament title over Southern Utah.

They finished the regular season ranked sixth on the conference leaderboard, going 10-7 in league play, but won nine of their final 10 games to enter the Big Dance on a high note.

GCU earned wins over Montana State, Northern Iowa, Wyoming and Pepperdine during the non-conference slate and gave Nevada, Wichita State, Loyola Marymount and North Texas all they could handle in early season losses.

Now, the Lopes will hope the hot shooting touch sophomore guard Rayshon Harrison showed down the stretch (averaging 21 points per game on 49.8% shooting) will withstand the relentless defense the Bulldogs will throw at him in downtown Denver on Thursday.



Christopher Boan is the lead writer at after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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