Upsets Abound Early in 2007-’08 Season

by Matthew Stevens | November 11th, 2007

MILWAUKEE – As the 11th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles take the floor for warm-ups, I couldn’t help but wonder if these highly-touted recruits were truly worried about a school with five initials.

With eight minutes left in the game and IUPUI only down one (55-54), the answer was a clear “no.”

It’s just ridiculous to assume they don’t have televisions and even with a cable blowout, can’t you these players receiving hundreds of text massages of major upset scores?

dude, Gardner Webb just beat Kentucky!’
‘where the hell is Gardner Webb’
‘Isn’t that where we just ate five burgers 4 $5?’
‘that’s George Webb’

Marquette did hold on to win 76-68 but that’s simply not the point. They are significantly better than IUPUI, aren’t they?

Maybe not. “This is a good win versus what I think will be an NCAA Tournament team,” Marquette head coach Tom Crean said in post-game. “I know they’re good.” Let me get this straight–a team that has been Division I for just 10 years is a measuring stick for a Top 15 team? What a different world we live in.

“My first thought was that the gap between the power conferences and everyone else is minuscule,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said.

When Michigan State and Ohio State lose at home to Division II schools, they automatically have an instant public relations excuse. Two words: exhibition game. “One, it’s exhibition games. You have to remember that,” Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried said. “I’m sure they were trying to play everybody and play odd combinations maybe that normally wouldn’t play together. So it happens in those type of games”

Logic would state that coaches (no matter how credible they are) can talk until they lose their voice about how good this school with a direction, numerous initials, or from the middle of nowhere is but yet a team from the newly-named Summit League can still be eight points from a monumental upset.

“I told our kids they just played the best team on its schedule and if they play like that all year we’ll be in good shape,” IUPUI head coach Ron Hunter said in the post-game press conference.

The best motivator is what you see. “We talked about it a little,” Marquette forward Lazar Hayward said in post-game. “We didn’t want to be one of those teams (that’s” plastered all over ESPN.” So far the entire country has seen the Gardner Webb upset. We’ve all had time to digest it and coaches have tried to make sure that doesn’t happen to their teams anytime soon. They’ve heard about Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin losing the opening game of his own tournament to Belmont (to be fair to the players and coaches of the Bears, they were a 2007 NCAA Tournament team). The Bearcats rebounded strong by defeating Western Carolina by two the next night.

The premiere of Southern Cal’s O.J. Mayo was a Hollywood flop as the 22nd-ranked Trojans lost convincingly to Mercer 96-81. “We need to come out and respect our opponent and play hard. We came out nonchalantly,” Mayo said in the post-game press conference.

So far, four BCS-conference schools have already lost home games to inferior basketball teams (Kentucky, USC, Cincinnati, and Georgia Tech to UNC-Greensboro).

“At the beginning of every season there seems to be some scores that surprise everyone, and (the Gardner Webb upset), along with a couple of others, fits that mold,” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. “Our players were certainly aware when Grand Valley State and Findlay won on Big Ten courts in the last couple of weeks,” Weber said. “It’s a message we share with our players all the time.”

The word is out and the shocking losses keep coming. While fans still see these scores and highlights of these upsets and use words like preposterous, silly and absurd, we in the media have a term for this: “trend.”

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