MUNCIE, Ind. -- Well, here it is, the last Boubacar of 2007, coming at the beginning of the final broken week of the 2007-08 season. No Boubacar tomorrow, but there will be a few special treats posted here, including our annual New Year's essay. You'll want to stay tuned for that. For now, here are a bunch of weekend upsets to enjoy. Dayton.
We talk a lot about upsets, and we get all sorts of excited mid-major teams beating ACC, Big East and SEC squads. Most of those, admittedly, are wins over money-bloated squads with too many underclassmen, imploding coaching situations, or rampant attitude issues. We'll take those, sure, but then there are the giant, man-sized upsets, the ones over nationally ranked teams by a lot of points. Like Saturday's 80-55
win by Dayton over Pittsburgh, for instance. I can personally vouch for the fact that the Panthers are very good, having seen them three times at the start of the year. They have the power to grind just about any team down, whether they have Levance Fields
on the floor or not.
But on Saturday at UD Arena, it was the Flyers doing the damage. In a nearly reverse score from last year's 84-54
Pitt buggywhipping, UD held the Panthers to 30 percent shooting and 32 rebounds. Brian Roberts got all the SportsCenter
love for his 31 points, but the real reason for this trouncing was the solid performances from two completely unexpected sophomore sources, 6-10 sophomore Kurt Huelsman
(12 points, 8 rebounds) and double-doubling guard Marcus Johnson
, who turned in easily the best game of his short career, putting up 15 and 11. Chris Wright, the Flyers' freshman phenom and second-leading scorer, was a complete non-factor, scoring four virtually invisible points and sitting a lot with fouls.
If the Flyers really are this deep, watch out. We've sort of cooled on Xavier after a bad week in the woods over Christmastime, but right now, at this moment, Dayton is the best team in the Atlantic 14, with Flint Hills Islander Shootout champions URI a clear and present second. Saint Joe's is right up there too, with a nice 74-68
win over suddenly injury-plagued Siena this weekend. League play is going to be incredibly hott. Tennessee State.
OVC fans have known about Bruce Price
for a while, the hot-shooting guard who was the freshman of the year in 2004, then battled knee problems and tested the NBA draft waters this past summer. He'll play professionally somewhere, but there's realistically too many of him in the Association right now. Now casual fans have a peg for him, as he's the guy who helped TSU beat Illinois 60-58
on Sunday. On the Big Ten Network, too! The Ilini outrebounded the Tigers 37-21, but lost just about every other battle and trailed pretty much wire to wire, allowing Price to score his 17 points and lead TSU to victory. San Diego.
Everyone knows about the UK upset by now, but we come at this story from the San Diego side. Even though USD is 7-8 on the season, the fact that they beat Kentucky 81-72
isn't that much of a shock. They've basically played a WAC-Mountain West schedule, playing only four games against traditionally lower-RPI conferences. And since Saint Mary's is really the only team in the WCC with at-large hopes, why not toughen yourself up in November and December for the conference season?
So while a lot of people are making jokes about how the Butt-Backwards State Chipmunks could probably beat Kentucky at this point, know this: San Diego's actually a pretty okay team. They have a great one-two junior punch in Gyno Pomare (Saturday's double-doubler with 13 points and 12 rebounds) and Brandon Johnson (16.9 ppg, including 27 vs. Kentucky), and have one of the more exciting coaching prospects in ex-Gonzaga assistant Bill Grier. They'll win their share of WCC games. I don't think it's going to far to say that the Toreros might be bid material in 2009. Winthrop.
The defending Big South champs beat Miami (Fla.) 76-70
, handing the hoop Hurricanes their first loss of the year. Hard to get a read on the Eagles under new head coach Randy Peele; they get up for the big games (they've beaten Miami and Georgia Tech, coming tantalizingly close against Baylor and Mississippi), but can't seem to show up against the likes of Mount Saint Mary's.
They have enough experience on the squad to get that worked out before conference play, but it's interesting to see how far this program has come. This time last year, Winthrop was the team that couldn't win the "big one" against the big-time programs. Winthrop has three wins against ACC teams in the past decade (in 11 tries), and two of those wins have come in the last six weeks. (Can you name the other one?) Herb Pope.
There's self-destructive, and then there's Herb Pope. Just last week, he was on the verge of being the Curt Flood of college basketball, earning an injunction against a repressive NCAA Clearinghouse system that takes its sweet time making decisions on eligibility. Now, he's just another idiot who doesn't know that booze and heavy machinery
should be mutually exclusive.
Now, the 6-9 freshman's college eligibility lawsuit is moot, the Aggies' chances to win the WAC again seem much dimmer as the suspensions keep piling up, and city-kid stereotypes are confirmed anew for simple minds. Somewhere in Sacramento, Reggie Theus is worrying about Ron Artest's bone chips, and that suddenly seems like a relatively pleasant problem to have. Upsets in general.
We're running out of nonconference games on the 2007-08 schedule, and therefore won't have many more opportunities to enjoy mid-major over major upsets until March. From here until there, most of what we do here will shift back to conference races, regional rivalries and matchups that we're familiar with from years of wintertime home-and-homes. And that's fine with us.
But unless there's some late topplings this afternoon, we'll leave 2007 with 120
total upsets. For those just joining us, we consider any victory by the lower 21 leagues (and independents) over the Big Six conferences (Big Ten, Big East, Pac-10, SEC, ACC and Big XII) as well as Mountain West and C-USA, two leagues with average athletic budgets too high to be considered "mid-anything." The Atlantic 14 Conference is only credited with an upset if it's over the Big Six, because they're on the same level as the money leagues but tend to do it with skimpier finances.
Last season, there were 129 such wins total
, so we have a very good chance of matching or beating that by April. There were 115
at the end of 2006, the last one being a North Carolina A&T win over SMU
on Dec. 30. SMU was victimized again on 12/30/2007 by Stephen F. Austin, 61-58
In other minor upsets, Boise State showed why it's going to be a WAC force by taking down a highly regarded (yet ultimately overrated) BYU squad, 73-70
. Wisconsin-Milwaukee beat mid-major punching bag Wyoming 80-66
, Lipscomb topped Marshall in one last A-Sun surprise in 2007, 72-62
. Montana State of the Big Sky, a very improved team from last year, beat Pac-10 two-time mid-major loser Oregon State 60-59
. Maybe it's for those two to switch conferences.Do you have a nomination for Wednesday's Boubacar?
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