Lowest Scoring March Madness Game Ever

The NCAA Tournament is a wild time of year. March Madness brings all sorts of drama including upsets and the chaos we have grown to love. Now, there are also some games that aren’t too exciting. There are college basketball games where teams can’t buy a bucket or are milking the clock. Here’s a look at the lowest-scoring March Madness games.

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1941 North Carolina vs Pittsburgh

The fewest points in an NCAA Tournament game happened back in 1941. Pittsburgh beat North Carolina by a final score of 26-20 in the 1941 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The total of 46 points stands today as the lowest-scoring NCAA Tournament game in history.

Was it a bad shooting night? There were a lot of low-scoring games in the 1941 March Madness Tournament because the shot clock had not been added. The championship game in 1941 was a 39-34 win by Wisconsin over Washington State. The shot clock was added to college basketball in 1985.

Other Lowest-Scoring NCAA Tournament Games

There have been plenty of low-scoring games in March Madness history. The lowest-scoring game in 1941 had just 46 total points. In 1940, Duquense beat Western Kentucky 30-29 for a total of 59 points. In 1941, Wisconsin beat Pittsburgh 36-30 in the Final Four. The Badgers ended up winning the National Championship that year.

The fourth-lowest-scoring game ever belongs to Indiana and Duquense. Indiana won 39-30 in the 1940 tourney. It’s easy to see how games without a shot clock rank as the lowest-scoring games of all time in tournament history.

Rounding out the top five lowest-scoring games in March Madness, USC beat Colorado 38-32 in the 1940 tournament. Everything changed when the shot-clock era took over in 1985.

Missouri State beat Wisconsin 43-32 in the 1999 NCAA Tournament. It’s the fewest points scored in the history of the shot-clock era in the NCAA Tournament. There were just 33 points scored in the first half. The second half was a little better as the game ended with 75 total points.

In 2007, UCLA and Indiana also had 33 points in the first half of a tournament game. The score was just 20-13. UCLA ended up winning the matchup 54-49 and the Bruins made it all the way to the Final Four.

Highest Scoring NCAA Basketball Games

On the other side, the NCAA Tournament hasn’t gone without some high-scoring affairs. The all-time highest in the history of the tournament belongs to Loyola Marymount’s 149-115 win over defending champion Michigan in 1990. 

The game was a 65-58 score at halftime. Loyola Marymount led by seven at the end of the first half before running away with 84 points in the second half for the 149-115 victory. It remains the highest-scoring game in the tournament since 1939. Loyola made an insane 21 three-point field goals. They also went 30 of 36 from the free-throw line.

That game was 30 points more than the next highest which also belongs to Loyola Marymount. Loyola Marymount beat Wyoming 119-115 in the 1988 First Round. The squad also holds the number three position when they were beaten 131-101 by UNLV in the Elite Eight in 1990.

Lowest Scoring March Madness Game FAQs

What is the lowest-scoring NCAA March Madness game?

The lowest-scoring game took place in 1941 between Pittsburgh and North Carolina. Pitt won by a score of 26-20 for a total of 46 points. Pittsburgh and UNC still hold the record for the fewest points scored in a tournament game in history.

How many teams make the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament?

There are 68 teams in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. 32 teams receive automatic bids while 36 teams receive an at-large bid.

When was the first NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament?

The NCAA Tournament began all the way back in 1939. Oregon won the first National Championship by a score of 46-33 over the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Why were so few points scored in the early years of the NCAA Tournament?

The modern game fans are used to is mostly because of the shot clock. It was introduced in 1985. Before that, there were teams who would hold the ball for minutes at a time before taking a shot.

written by

Sam hails from Grandville, Michigan. He has a rich sports background, including playing baseball at Central Michigan before covering high school sports and working with the Orlando Magic. He earned his broadcasting/journalism degree from Central Michigan University and was a member of the 2010 MAC Championship baseball team. Sam developed his expertise while working with Betsperts, Bleacher Nation, and 4for4 in various areas such as writing, social media, betting research, and business development. He's a big fan of the NBA, NFL, and MLB, highly interested in data and statistics.

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