Is Grand Canyon poised to secure their first NCAA Tournament victory in school history?

Can Grand Canyon Capture First NCAA Tournament Win In School History?
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The Grand Canyon University Lopes will have an opportunity to create history when they take on a former March Cinderella team now turned powerhouse in a 3-14 matchup on Thursday.

The Lopes are set to take on Gonzaga in Denver, aiming to secure their first-ever win in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

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GCU is set to play their second tournament game on Thursday, marking two years since their loss to Iowa 86-74 in the opening round.

Coach Bryce Drew’s team will have a difficult task ahead as they take on Arizona, with the Lopes being considered underdogs with odds of +950 and a 15.5-point spread against the Bulldogs.

Yengols.com, the top choice for Arizona sports betting, wanted to see how big of an upset it would be if GCU were to beat Gonzaga.

Most Shocking First Round Upsets in NCAA History

  • Despite being 21-point underdogs in 2012, Norfolk State pulled off a surprising victory over Missouri.
  • UMBC entered the 2018 matchup against UVA as the clear underdog, facing a 20.5 point spread.
  • In 1997, Coppin State was the clear underdog facing South Carolina with a 19-point spread.
  • In 2022, it is forecasted that St. Peter’s will defeat Kentucky by a margin of 18 points.
  • In 2001, Hampton has a 17.5-point advantage over Iowa State.
  • In 2016, Middle Tennessee State was predicted to win by 16.5 points against Michigan State.
  • Oral Roberts is expected to win by 16.5 points against Ohio State in 2021.
  • In 1999, Weber State was expected to win by a 15-point margin against UNC.
  • In 2010, Ohio was predicted to win by a margin of 14 points against Georgetown.
  • In 2015, UAB was the clear underdog, facing a 14-point spread against Iowa State.
  • In 2005, Bucknell was expected to win by 13 points against Kansas.

BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona offers the odds.

Historically, where would a GCU win rank?

Thursday’s GCU-Gonzaga matchup has a 15.5-point spread, which is poised to become the seventh largest upset since 1997, sandwiched between Oral Roberts’ defeat of Ohio State in 2021 and Weber State’s triumph over UNC in 1999.

The victory would rank as the second most impressive win, just behind last year’s stunning 15-2 upset of St. Peter’s over Kentucky, in which St. Peter’s was an 18-point underdog. It would also outshine a trio of 14-3 upsets, including Ohio’s victory over Georgetown, UAB’s win against Iowa State, and Bucknell’s defeat of Kansas.

This would represent a major transformation for Gonzaga, as they went from a 10 seed in 1999 to making it to the Elite Eight by defeating seventh-seeded Minnesota, second seed Stanford, and Florida. Since then, Gonzaga has solidified its position as one of the premier programs in the nation.

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How GCU Got Here

The 24-11 Lopes clinched their second tournament spot with a strong finish to the season, winning three consecutive games to capture the WAC Tournament title against Southern Utah.

Finishing the regular season in sixth place on the conference standings, they held a 10-7 record in league play. Nonetheless, they gained momentum by winning nine of their last 10 games as they entered the Big Dance.

In the non-conference schedule, GCU notched wins against Montana State, Northern Iowa, Wyoming, and Pepperdine. They also faced tough competition in losses to Nevada, Wichita State, Loyola Marymount, and North Texas.

The Lopes are relying on the impressive shooting abilities of sophomore guard Rayshon Harrison, who averaged 21 points per game on 49.8% shooting in the later part of the season. They are optimistic that his strong performance will continue against the formidable defense of the Bulldogs in their upcoming game in downtown Denver on Thursday.

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Author

Peterson Christopher

For more than seven years, Peterson Christopher has been reporting on sports and sports betting in Arizona. He has worked for ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly, and the Green Valley News before becoming the lead writer at yengols.com.

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