- 2004: #10 Nevada vs #7 Michigan St (72-66 1st Rnd)
It had been nearly 20 years since Nevada was last in the NCAA tournament and they were still in search of their first tournament win. The Wolf Pack finished first in the WAC, won their conference tournament and had won 10 of their last 11 games. Michigan St was coming off an Elite 8 appearance the year before and was ranked 3rd in the preseason. After falling out of the rankings entirely (went 0-9 against ranked teams), the Spartans finished the season strong winning 10 of 13. Michigan St led 27-13 midway through the first half but Nevada trimmed it to 43-34 at half. With nearly seven minutes left in the game the Spartans were in front at 63-56 but the Wolf Pack fought back and took the lead 65-63 with a little less than 3 minutes left to play. Nevada closed the game by going 7-8 from the free-throw line and would win to play another game. The Wolf Pack then advanced to the Sweet 16 after beating #2 Gonzaga by 19 (91-72). They would lose to eventual runner-up Georgia Tech in the Regional Semifinal. An impressive run by this Nevada team would set the stage as they would make the NCAA tournament the next 3 years in a row led by all-time leading scorer in Wolf Pack history Nick Fazekas (2,462 points).
- 2005: #12 UW-Milwaukee vs #5 Alabama (83-73 1st Rnd)
The Panthers, led by head coach Bruce Pearl, were one of the hottest teams in the nation winning 17 of their last 18 games and entered the tournament with a 9 game winning streak. It was only the 2nd appearance in school history for UW-Milwaukee who nearly knocked off Notre Dame two years earlier, losing 70-69 in the first round. The Crimson Tide, who were ranked in the top 25 all season, were making their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament and were coming off an Elite 8 run the year before. The Panthers did not play like a lesser or intimidated team and led by as many as 17 points in the first half. Outstanding shooting by UW-Milwaukee (FG% .520 & 3 Pt% .571) and tenacious defense (Alabama committed 19 turnovers) sealed the victory. The Panthers followed up their first win ever in the NCAA tournament with another by beating #4 Boston College 83-75. Bruce Pearl’s squad would then lose to eventual national runner-up Illinois in the Regional Semifinal. It would be Pearl’s last year coaching at UW-Milwaukee as he would become the head coach at Tennessee and bring that program to prominence during his tenure there.