- Eamonn Brennan, College Basketball Reporter
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When even the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks are eliminating the reigning Super Bowl Champs in the first round of the playoffs, you know it's been a crazy day.
Such was the case in college hoops Saturday, too. When you play 139 games in one day, there are always going to be wild finishes, unexpected results and upsets. But this was something else entirely. Seven ranked teams lost to unranked teams. To wit:
(There was also a genuine thriller, UConn's 82-81 overtime win at Texas. My postgame analysis on that classic can be found here.)
Colorado 89, No. 8 Missouri 76. It's never easy to win on the road, sure, and you can argue that Colorado is the perfect team (great guards, no big men) to match up with Missouri's guard-heavy style, but considering Mizzou's consistently impressive play to date -- and Colorado's blowout loss to Harvard, among other questionable results -- this still counts as a major upset. Alec Burks played like the future NBA lottery pick he's slated to be, scoring a career-high 36 points on 12-of-19 from the field, 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line.
West Virginia 65, No. 13 Georgetown 59. According to the AP recap at that link, Bob Huggins has begun giving his players pop quizzes before games, making them come up to the chalkboard and diagram plays to test whether or not they've been paying attention. Apparently, they have. Either that or Georgetown's guards, who played phenomenally in the Hoyas' nonconference schedule, continued their shooting woes from outside. Georgetown's offense is pretty simple: Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark get open looks and make them. At least, that was the case when Georgetown was stacking up nonconference wins against tough opponents (ODU, Missouri, and so on) during November and December. The Big East has been less kind, and Georgetown is now 1-3 in the league with a questionable home loss on its résumé.
Penn State 66, No. 19 Michigan State 62. I'm not sure this was a court-storm-worthy effort from Penn State (not that it stopped Nittany Lions fans from basking in the moment), but it certainly fits the day's upset-heavy theme. Penn State guard Talor Battle, who struggled from the field all day, sealed the win with a leaning jumper that put Penn State up by three with 18 seconds remaining. The loss does even greater damage to Michigan State, which was already looking shaky and is now a long shot to win the Big Ten and an even longer shot to get a favorable NCAA tournament seed in March.
Oklahoma State 76, No. 17 Kansas State 62. I'm not sure this counts as an upset. After all, Kansas State is still missing forward Curtis Kelly due to suspension, and the Wildcats have struggled to score throughout ... well, now that I think about it, pretty much the entire year. But you get the point: The Wildcats are still in a major swoon, one of those will-they-figure-it-out-in-time rough patches that every program has to confront from time to time. The problem for K-State is that the time to figure this stuff out -- whether we're talking about the team's offense, Jacob Pullen's adjustment to the point guard spot or intangible stuff like leadership -- is starting to run out.
Georgia 77, No. 11 Kentucky 70. No offense to the AP -- I'm a huge fan, guys! -- but the use of the word "stun" in the aforelinked headline is a little bit questionable. Georgia, in addition to being at home, is also a pretty good team. The Bulldogs' only two losses this season came in double overtime to Notre Dame and by seven points to Temple all the way back in November at the Old Spice Classic. Otherwise, this Bulldogs squad has been playing just fine, thanks. Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie remain underrated; Thompkins scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Leslie put on his trademark dunk show on the way to his 15-and-eight afternoon. Good win for Georgia, but this one is probably about as much of an upset as Kansas State-Oklahoma State. Which is to say, not much of an upset at all.
Houston 76, No. 18 UCF 71. It was only a matter of time until UCF -- which came into Saturday having won their last two games (over Princeton and Marshall) in sketchy fashion -- lost. Still, few would have predicted this game being the one that cost the Knights their undefeated record. Without the second-half run that put them within striking distance of the Cougars late, this could have been much worse; Houston led by as many as 17 in the first half. Marcus Jordan, who has become a star in UCF's undefeated run, went 3-for-9 from the field and ended up with 10 points.
South Carolina 83, No. 24 Vanderbilt 75. Vandy has been one of the best 10 or 20 defensive teams in the nation thus far this season, but you wouldn't have known it today. South Carolina had four players reach double figures in scoring, including freshman point guard Bruce Ellington, who probably deserves to be considered among the 10 or so best newcomers in the nation. Ellington had 24 points, seven boards and four assists in the win. It's hard to say whether this is a genuine upset on the Michigan State-Penn State side of the spectrum, or just another case of a good team succumbing to a conference opponent on the road i.e. Kentucky and Kansas State, but either way, it's a big win for the Gamecocks.
Arkansas 68, Tennessee 65. This is nothing new with the Volunteers, of course. Tennessee seems uniquely capable of beating ranked teams but uniquely unable of getting up for games so-so opponents. Tennessee's last game? A blowout of No. 22 Memphis. Arkansas' last game? A 33-point loss at Texas. Yes, Bruce Pearl was sitting out the first game of his SEC-mandated eight-game league suspension. Still, there's no reason why Tennessee should lose to Arkansas. UT is now 3-0 against ranked teams and 7-5 against unranked teams. Another baffling chapter in the already mind-blowing 2010-11 Vols' story.
When even the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks are eliminating the reigning Super Bowl Champs in the first round of the playoffs, you know it's been a crazy day.Such was the case in college hoops Saturday, too.