Eastern Illinois pulled off the biggest upset in men's college basketball in decades on Wednesday as it stunned Iowa in Iowa City, 92-83. The win for the Panthers, who were 31.5-point underdogs at Caesars Sportsbook, marked the largest upset by the spread in at least three decades, according to ESPN. Previous 30+ plus point underdogs in college basketball before Eastern Illinois' win in that span were 0-558.
Even more remarkable an achievement for Eastern Illinois was the way in which it pulled off the unlikely and near-impossible. Not only was it a massive underdog, but it fell behind 18-4 just six minutes into the action, which made the uphill climb to an upset all the more improbable. By halftime, though, Iowa's lead was just six points before EIU outscored the Hawkeyes on their home court 55-38 in the second half.
"We struggled on offense at the beginning of the second half," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said after the game. "They went on a 9-2 run, and I thought they got comfortable with their offense. We started going a little too much one-on-one, had only two assists in the second half. . . They run their stuff really well, and they play really hard. They compete."
The win marked Eastern Illinois' fourth in program history over a Power Five opponent and its first since taking down Missouri nearly six years ago to the day on Dec. 16, 2016. Its only other wins over a Power Five opponent came in 1987 and 1974 against Wisconsin and Ole Miss, respectively.
Thst winning locker room feeling pic.twitter.com/Cav5V5xg2R— Eastern Illinois Athletics (@EIU_Panthers) December 21, 2022
Eastern Illinois made 11 dunks in the second half and went 21-of-27 shooting from the field (including 4-of-8 from 3) to power it to victory. Iowa, in the second half, went ice cold shooting the rock, finishing 2-of-17 from 3-point range in the final frame.
Iowa was without leading scorer and rebounder Kris Murray and key rotation piece Connor McCaffery, both of whom are nursing injuries. But against an EIU team that ranks in the bottom 15 of 363 teams at KenPom, it still goes down as a horrific loss for Iowa -- and a massive win, conversely, for EIU and second-year coach Marty Simmons.
"Marty is a terrific coach. He's had a year to kind of put some pieces together, some transfers, good freshman class, got some guys back," McCaffery said. "They run their stuff really well. I think you can talk about what we didn't do, what we should have done, but that takes away from your opponent."