|MASSIVE UPSET WEEK AS 18 OF TOP 25 LOSE
February 1, 2011
Mike, SCS.com Staff Writer
It was once again quite a week in NCAA Basketball. Jimmer Fredette’s 43 point effort on Wednesday night handed San Diego State its first loss of the year. Ohio State staved off a late Northwestern rally to remain unbeaten. While number one survived, the week still saw one upset after another. Syracuse fell to 18-4 after an 18-0 start while UCF fell for the sixth straight game after a 14-0 beginning to the season. Still a week of upsets saw no change at the top of the poll as Ohio State remains the lone undefeated team.
1. Big East Leaders Fall Biggest Victim to Upset Week
No one conference was hit harder by the upsets that were this week than the Big East. On Monday, Notre Dame went into Pittsburgh and knocked off the then-second-ranked Panthers 56-51. Tuesday saw Syracuse suffer an embarrassing 22-point-home-loss to Seton Hall to drop its third game in a row. The Orange made it four by losing at Marquette on Saturday. Seventh-ranked Villanova continued the trend of teams falling as the Wildcats were beat by 15 at Providence on Wednesday.
The weekend was not much different for the Big East as both Connecticut and Villanova were upset at home by ranked teams in addition to the aforementioned Syracuse loss to Marquette. Connecticut lost to Louisville in double-overtime as guard Kemba Walker had his desperation heave rim out. Villanova met similar fate as a last ditch three-point-attempt went awry as the Wildcats lost to the Hoyas of Georgetown 69-66. All said, four of the seven ranked teams in the Big East were beat this week while Syracuse and Villanova each lost twice.
2. Ohio State Survives Closest Scare, Nation’s Only Undefeated Team
Ohio State was no stranger to living on the edge as it entered Tuesday’s match-up with Purdue winning five of its previous six games by five points or less. The Buckeyes however were far too much for 12th-ranked Purdue as the Buckeyes cruised to a 87-64 win. The win was quite impressive, but on Saturday night, the Buckeyes found all they could handle as Ohio State visited Evanston, Indiana to meet a scrappy Northwestern team. Ohio State led by just two at halftime, but extended its lead to 13 in the second half. Northwestern used a 21-7 run to take a 55-54 lead with just under four minutes to play. Ohio State was once again resilient however as Jon Diebler calmly knocked down his first and only three of the night to put Ohio State back ahead. With the game tied at 57, freshman Jared Sullinger was hacked in the act of shooting with just 3.5 seconds to play. After missing badly on his first free throw, Sullinger swished the second to give Ohio State a one-point-lead. As Drew Crawford’s half-court-heave went wide, the Buckeyes secured their 22nd win with still no losses. Top-ranked Ohio State is now the nation’s only remaining undefeated team.
3. BYU Follows Big Time Win with Road Loss
BYU’s Jimmer Fredette was once again a man among boys on Wednesday night as the senior poured in 43 points against a San Diego State team that came in undefeated. BYU trailed by a point and the half, but Fredette stole the show in the second half as the Cougars handed the Aztecs their first loss 71-58. Saturday was a different story however for the Cougars as BYU fell at New Mexico 86-77. Fredette scored 32 points, dished out seven assists and recorded three steals, but that was not enough. New Mexico had five players score in double-figures as guard Tony Snell hit one big three-pointer after another down the stretch to spark the Lobos. The loss for BYU snapped a 10-game-winning-streak.
4. One of Year’s Best Finishes in Game Between Two of Country’s Worst Teams
Manhattan and Marist entered Sunday’s match-up with a combined record of 7-36. Manhattan trailed 59-57 with just seconds to play; on the last play of the game, Manhattan’s Michael Alvarado banked home a half-court shot to give the Jaspers a one-point-victory.
5. Duke Blown Out at Madison Square Garden
Against an 11-8 St. John’s team, Duke was outmatched, outmuscled and most certainly outplayed. Third-ranked Duke was outscored 50-30 in the paint as the Blue Devils continued to struggle inside. St. John’s had five players in double-figures scoring while only Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler cracked double-digits for Duke. Smith and Singler combined for 52 of the Blue Devils’ 78 points as Duke shot just five-for-26 from three-point-land. The 93-78 loss was the worst for Duke against an unranked opponent in more than five years. With the defeat, Duke fell to 19-2 with both losses coming away from Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke will visit Maryland on Wednesday; Duke struggled for much of the game in its first meeting against the Terrapins before pulling out the victory. The Blue Devils’ interior will once again be tested as Maryland’s Jordan Williams is averaging better than 17 points and just shy of 12 rebounds per game.
6. Alabama, Nebraska Enhancing Tournament Resume
The Alabama Crimson Tide have a two game advantage in the loss column in conference play in the SEC West. Alabama also has the best overall conference record in the SEC period. Last week, the Tide got their signature win by beating Kentucky in Tuscaloosa. Alabama struggled mightily in the non-conference, but the Crimson Tide are 5-1 since beginning conference play. Alabama looks to be the team-to-beat in a SEC West that nobody seems to want to win. Alabama has won eight of nine overall and currently have a RPI of 41. The Crimson Tide’s JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell have been two of the SEC’s best players since conference play began.
Nebraska has not made the NCAA Tournament since 1998 and have never won a game in the tournament. The Cornhuskers took a big step toward making the big dance on Saturday as Nebraska pulled out a 57-48 win over 13th-ranked Texas A&M. The win was the first major victory that the Cornhuskers can hang their hat on. Nebraska was competitive, but came up short last week losing to both Missouri and Kansas. The Huskers are currently 3-3 in conference play and have a RPI of 40. The remaining schedule is tough, but an 8-8 record would almost solidify its first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 13 years.
7. Syracuse Losing Streak hits Four
The Orange of Syracuse started the year by winning their first 18 games; since then, 0-4. On Tuesday night, the Orange took what was by far their most embarrassing loss. At home against a Seton Hall team that had an 8-12 overall record, Syracuse lost by 22 at home. Syracuse followed the loss with a six-point-loss at Marquette. During its four-game-losing-streak, Syracuse is giving up an average of better than 80 points-per-game. The Orange did not allow a single opponent to hit 80 in their first 18 games.
8. Michigan Finally Gets its Upset
Michigan has been oh, so close to beating some of the nation’s elites, but prior to last Thursday, the Wolverines had nothing to show for it. Michigan had previously lost to Minnesota by five, Ohio State by four, Syracuse by three and to Kansas in overtime. On the road against in-state-rival Michigan State, the Wolverines edged out a 61-57 victory. Forward Zack Novak didn’t make a single field goal inside the three-point-arc, but finished with 19 points to lead Michigan. Guard Darius Morris added 17 points to go along with eight assists as Michigan recorded its first win over the Spartans in four years and its first in East Lansing since 1997.
9. Bubble Bursting for Kansas State
Kansas State began the season ranked third in the polls, but if today were Selection Sunday, the Wildcats would be on the outside looking in. After a 9-1 start, Kansas State has lost seven of its last 12 games. The Wildcats are just 2-5 in Big XII play and only Iowa State has a worse record in conference. At Kansas on Saturday, the Wildcats lost by 24 as they allowed Kansas to shoot 62 percent from the field while shooting just 34 percent. The good news for K-State is that there is still time. Kansas, Missouri and Texas all remain on the schedule, but the Wildcats should be the favorite in every other remaining game. The Wildcats do not currently have a win over a team ranked in the top 25 and Washington State is Kansas State’s lone win against a team with a RPI currently inside of 50.
10. 18 Ranked Teams Lose
18 of the nation’s 25 ranked teams lost at least once prior to the new poll being released on Monday. To be brief, here’s the ranked teams that fell: Pittsburgh (at home), Duke (by a lot), San Diego State (its first), Connecticut (in double-overtime), Villanova (twice), BYU, Syracuse (twice), Texas A&M, Purdue (by a bunch), Missouri, Wisconsin, Washington (to its arch-rival), Minnesota (it wasn’t an upset), Illinois, Vanderbilt (at home), Florida, St. Mary’s (first in conference). If we judge by the AP Poll rather than the ESPN/USA Today Coach’s Poll, Florida State and Michigan State also lost. That’s just the kind of week it was.
Syracuse and Connecticut will try to break recent slumps as the two square off in Storrs on Wednesday. Michigan will try to pull off another upset at top-ranked Ohio State. Florida and Kentucky will battle for SEC East supremacy. The number one Buckeyes will have another weekend test at Minnesota. There doesn’t appear to be nearly as many upsets in the works, but after last week, who really knows?