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Joe Boozell | | February 19, 2019

The 5 most impressive wins of the college basketball season — so far

Duke tops Andy Katz's Power 36

There are plenty of ways you can measure an impressive win. Usually, the victories that jump off the page take place on the road, against opponents that are supposedly better than you.

Most, but not all, of the five wins below fit that criteria. Point differential also played a role; some teams that weren't supposed to win demolished their talented opponents.

Here are five of the most impressive college basketball wins of 2018-19 to date.

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Nov. 14: Michigan def. Villanova, 73-46

The rematch of last year's national championship game wasn't supposed to go that way. Villanova's early-season struggles are well-documented, but we had no reason to think Michigan would manhandle the Wildcats on the road.

It seemed like it would be tight. Villanova and Michigan both lost key pieces but were clearly talented, and the Wildcats were playing at home. But the Wolverines just suffocated them. Villanova shot 38 percent from 2, 20 percent from 3, and committed a whopping 21 turnovers.

The Wildcats scuffled for the next month or so after this, but the win has actually aged well for the Wolverines. Villanova is in prime position to win the Big East once again, so Michigan's 27-point beatdown should be celebrated.

Jan. 5: New Mexico def. Nevada, 85-58

The only home win on this list. Nevada was 14-0 coming into this game, and the undefeated regular season chatter was heating up. The Wolf Pack haven't lost since, and New Mexico was just 7-6 going into that game. The Lobos are now 5-8 in conference.

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But they destroyed Nevada by 27 points in one of the most head-scratching outcomes of the season. New Mexico wouldn't have made this article if it beat by Nevada by, say, three. But this was a total domination of an undefeated juggernaut. And it's not as if the Lobos have been lighting other teams up on their home floor.

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It was by far the Wolf Pack's worst offensive performance of the season. It's the only game they haven't cracked 60. Credit New Mexico for that wildly impressive night.

Jan. 12: Louisville def. North Carolina, 83-62

These teams were trending in opposite directions coming into this game. Louisville had lost two of three, including an uncompetitive loss to Kentucky and a setback against Pitt. North Carolina, meanwhile, had won four straight. The Tar Heels seemed primed to beat the Cardinals at the Dean Dome.

But Louisville worked UNC, winning by 21 on the road. The Tar Heels finished just 3-of-22 from 3-point range, while the Cards went 11-for-26 from deep. That's your game, right there. Strangely enough, North Carolina would avenge the loss on Feb. 2, beating Louisville in their own gym. But a 21-point trouncing when it felt like the Cardinals were still trying to find themselves remains one of the most unlikely results of the conference slate.

Jan. 14: Syracuse def. Duke, 95-91

We know all the caveats here. Cam Reddish didn't play in this game. Tre Jones notched four steals... in six minutes. Jones had to leave this one early due to a shoulder injury.

But this was Duke's only home loss of the season, and the fact that it came to Syracuse is surprising. The Blue Devils still had Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. And the Orange hadn't inspired much confidence to that point.

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Tyus Battle was remarkable in this game, scoring 32 points, and Elijah Hughes chipped in 20. Syracuse has been solid since then — the Orange are 8-4 in a tough ACC. Duke, on the other hand, hasn't lost. Consider that a wake up call.

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Duke and Syracuse will square off on Saturday at the Carrier Dome. The Blue Devils will be at full strength, and motivated. That's a scary thought for the Orange, but the previous win remains incredible.

Feb. 12: LSU def. Kentucky, 73-71

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Coming into this game, it looked like Kentucky might not lose the rest of the regular season. The Wildcats had won 10 in a row and 13 of 14. And some of the schools they beat were heavy-hitters: North Carolina, Louisville and Kansas, to name a few.

LSU also had a ton of momentum, but beating Kentucky at Rupp Arena is unlikely for any team. Well, the Tigers did it. It was an ugly game, as neither team made 30 percent of its 3s. But LSU prevailed, and considering Kentucky's decisive win over Tennessee in it next game, it looks all the more impressive.

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