What does weekend of upsets really mean?

November, 16, 2009

Despite a weekend full of upsets, I'd say we know exactly what we knew Friday morning. Namely, Connecticut is in a league of its own, Stanford is pretty darn good and anyone who assures you they know what's going on after that is delusional.

No. 16 Texas A&M beats No. 6 Duke. No. 9 Tennessee beats No. 4 Baylor. Georgia beats No. 8 Oklahoma. Oklahoma State beats No. 19 Georgia Tech. Upsets all (and that was just Sunday afternoon) by the definition of the word. But only upsets because it looks a little unseemly if there's a 300-way tie for No. 3 in the preseason polls.

Duke returned a lot of people from a team that was good but not great last season, so most of us projected they would be better. Texas A&M lost three key players from a Sweet 16 team, so most of us projected they would take a step back.

One game doesn't prove anything, but Texas A&M's 95-77 victory is a reminder that we weren't working with proven facts to begin with and we need to at least be open to continually revising our hypotheses.

Duke can have a nice season and maybe even contend for the ACC title, but it's not going to do anything on the scale by which that program come to measure itself until it figures out how to hit some shots. And if that sounds overly simplistic, consider the Blue Devils have missed 405 shots in their last 10 games, dating back to last season. To miss 40 shots a game and still be successful, you had better be either the best defensive team in the nation or the most up-tempo offense in the nation. Duke isn't either right now.

Meanwhile, reports of Texas A&M's demise without Takia Starks, Danielle Gant and La Toya Micheaux are greatly exaggerated. Another year out from knee surgery, Sydney Colon is going to be a fantastic point guard, whether she routinely throws up double-doubles (17 points and 10 assists) like she did against the Blue Devils. And while one heralded Lone Star State newcomer struggled in Knoxville, Texas A&M junior-college transfer Danielle Adams looked ready for action with 23 points and no turnovers.

Sometimes change doesn't guarantee regression, and sometimes continuity doesn't guarantee improvement.

Other notable results, MVC edition

Illinois State 61, UCLA 55: Even without Kristi Cirone, perhaps it will be business as usual in Normal, Ill., this season (granted, the Redbirds actually won this on a neutral court at the University of Iowa). Cirone, the three-time Missouri Valley player of the year, has moved on to the professional ranks, but Illinois State coach Robin Pingeton's system benefited from having Cirone in it more than it was built around her. Four Redbirds scored in double figures and they won despite Maggie Krick and Ashleen Bracey -- two of their best scoring threats -- shooting a combined 6-for-21. Sunday's loss to Iowa notwithstanding, a great opening weekend.

Indiana State 77, Kansas State 73: Another eyebrow-raising win for the MVC, which some (all right, me) thought might be in for a down season. A season preview in the Terre Haute Tribune Star last week had the Sycamores sounding like a confident bunch every team sounds optimistic this time of year. But 37 points from senior guard Kelsey Luna, who was the team's only double-digit scorer last season before she missed the final month-plus with a torn ACL, will go a long way toward backing up confidence.

What's on tap

Monday: New Hampshire at Maryland is the only game involving a ranked team, but there are a number of other interesting pairings. The best of the bunch might be Marist traveling to West Virginia for the second round of the WNIT. Marist's Rachele Fitz got off to the kind of start to suggest she's focused in her final season, hitting 12 of 15 shots for 30 points and adding nine rebounds and four assists against NC A&T. But West Virginia's backcourt of Sarah Miles and Liz Repella will test the Red Foxes.

Other good games: South Carolina at Charlotte, Western Kentucky at Ball State, Marquette at Michigan.

Tuesday: A busy schedule is highlighted on the team front by Connecticut and Texas playing in San Antonio (ESPN2, 9:30 p.m. ET) and on the individual front by Elena Delle Donne's Delaware career beginning on the road at St. Francis. But beyond those headliners, Florida's visit to Florida State is notable beyond its intrastate import. The Gators won on the road in Tallahassee last season, but only two starters from that game -- Sharielle Smith and Steffi Sorensen -- started the Gators' opener this season against Stetson.

Other good games: Louisville at Hartford, Auburn at Temple, Tennessee at Texas Tech, Minnesota at Utah.

Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.



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