Upsets That Went Unnoticed, Until Now!

by Matthew Stevens | December 7th, 2007

Night after night college basketball fans think they’ve heard nothing but consistent coverage of monumental upsets. Well, not exactly. In fact, quite the opposite. Several BCS-conference schools have gotten a pass for pitiful losses either because of other newsworthy items that day or lack of overall knowledge.

This is why I’m here. At least I think this is why I will scold the schools that embarrassed themselves and give the smaller school it’s place on the highest stage that, well, I can provide.

In particular order, here is my list of college basketball upsets in November that didn’t make the majority of radars:

November 10 – Mercer 96 @ USC 81
OK, so yes I called this the flop otherwise known as O.J. Mayo’s debut to college basketball so it may not have been underplayed at the time, but when talking about how to rate the Trojans now, you better believe it is. Put it this way, Mercer dominated this game more than even the margin of victory would represent and then proceeded to go winless the rest of November. The Bears are now 2-5 and we’re just supposed to forget they handed it to the Trojans by 15 and scored nearly 100?

In a related story, you remember the week-long love-fest for the Atlantic Sun Conference as it pulled at least three upsets in the first week (also Gardner Webb over Kentucky and Belmont over Cincinnati)? Well, there’s 31 conferences in college basketball with NCAA Tournament automatic bids, and the A-Sun is ranked 30th in the latest RPI. Get ready for another play-in game folks.

November 18 – New Orleans 65 @ North Carolina State 63
T.J. Worley picked up a loose ball and banked in a three-pointer with 1.7 seconds left as the Privateers beat then-ranked No. 22 North Carolina State. This was the quote of the UNO winning coach Joe Pasternack: “Our guys have been through so much–our seniors have endured hurricanes, three coaching changes.”

The last two head coaches of the Privateers have left for assistant coaching gigs. That’s not only a statement about your program but a portrait of how bad the situation is sill for that school in general. Good for them.

November 20 – St. Mary’s (CA) 99, Oregon 87
Come March, I hope my editor David Mihm and I don’t have to have a serious argument over how high St. Mary’s should be seeded in the NCAA Tournament. At first I chalked this up to a version of west coast bias, which basically means that if it happens when half the country in asleep, we as fans assume it didn’t happen (kind of like Las Vegas behavior).

However, most of the coverage used the phrase “this isn’t an upset.” Really?! Look, I understand the Gaels are very good, but Oregon was considered by some to be a Final Four sleeper and the same prediction was not used for head coach Randy Bennett’s St. Mary’s squad.

November 21 – Chaminade 74, Princeton 70
Look, I understand that Princeton is an Ivy League school and yes, the Tigers were really overmatched in Maui. However, you still must beat the D-II host every time and when you don’t, it’s embarrassing. No question about it.

November 22 – George Mason 87, Kansas State 77
It’s official: I feel bad for George Mason. Is this what it comes to, that because of the team’s historical, improbable and incredible Final Four run in 2006 that anything it does after that is lessened? For the sake of Jim Larranaga and his kids I certainly hope not.

Kansas State is in a BCS conference, the Wildcats are an NCAA Tournament bubble team, and they have a 2008 NBA Draft Lottery pick in Michael Beasley. Despite all that, the Patriots beat them by double-digits on a neutral floor. Just because George Mason will never again have a season like 2005-2006 doesn’t lessen or cheapen what the Patriots do in the coming years following. This not getting its proper play nationally was a Thanksgiving Day tragedy.

November 24 – North Carolina A&T 96 @ DePaul 93

Rey Meyer officially rolled over in his grave over this one. DePaul should never (let me repeat that for Blue Demons head coach Jerry Wainright), never lose to NC A&T at All State Arena. The Aggies got 40 points from 5-foot-11 guard Steven Rush off the bench in 33 minutes. “I kept telling people once Steven Rush gets going, look out,’’ said N.C. A&T head coach Jerry Eaves. “Steve’s a shooter. Shooters go through slumps. But you let him keep shooting because he’s too good a shooter to stay in a slump. I wasn’t worried about Steve struggling with his shot.”

Rush came into the game shooting 8-of-42 from beyond the arc and shocked the Blue Demons by making 10 of 17 from three-point range.

November 27 – December 1: Louisiana-Monroe wins the Hawkeye Classic.
Everybody knows Iowa and Rice aren’t any good this season, but do you think ULM had any clue it could win this event when it signed up for it this off-season? I’m thinking no, but more to the point the Warhawks had to beat Iowa in the first round to even get to the final against a winless Rice team.

Here’s why this shocked everyone who looked at this result: ULM came into this event after losing by 29 to Kansas, 18 to Michigan State, and by 24 to Ole Miss. At 1-4, the Warhawks weren’t really riding high on momentum for an upset against the host Hawkeyes. Iowa had also never lost in the first round of this event.

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