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Mike Lopresti | | February 11, 2022

What 6 shocking top-10 upsets in 6 days means for men's college basketball

Illinois and Providence make moves in the top 10 of Power 36 college basketball rankings

Six days. Six Associated Press top-10 teams taken out by unranked opponents. Six more reasons why the college basketball season can remind you of a pileup on the freeway, especially the closer it gets to March.

 A look back at Upset Week, and what it might mean:

Saturday . . .

What happened

No. 3 UCLA came from 11 points back and had possessions to win at the end of the first two overtimes, but finally ran out of chances and lost 87-84 in three overtimes at Arizona State.

Why it happened

The Bruins shot only 37 percent, including 5-for-22 on 3-pointers. There may have been some hangover from losing a tough Pac-12 showdown game two days earlier at Arizona.

What Mick Cronin said

“It’s a great responsibility when you play at UCLA and you’re coming off a Final Four. Teams can’t wait to play you. Fans can’t wait to see you. We weren’t ready for that this week.”

What it meant

The loss dropped UCLA out of the top-10 and two games off Arizona’s pace in the conference. It also continued a curious outside shooting slump for the Bruins, who over a three-game stretch hit only 18.5 percent of their 3-point attempts. That was improved somewhat two days later in a win at Stanford, but there’s another test coming Saturday at USC.

MORE: Arizona State edges out No. 3 UCLA in three overtimes and more from a wild Saturday

Monday . . .

What happened

Virginia barged into Cameron Indoor Stadium and stunned No. 7 Duke 69-68 on Reece Beekman’s 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left.

Why it happened

The Blue Devils were outscored 52-28 in the paint and 20-2 in points off turnovers. Also, some wear might have been showing after three consecutive ACC road games, including the high-octane 20-point romp over North Carolina only 48 hours earlier.

What Mike Krzyzewski said

“We’ve got to be hungry after we’ve eaten. We had a big meal (the rout in Chapel Hill), but we have to be hungry again, and I thought they were hungrier than we were tonight.”

What it meant

Just another night in the unsettled ACC, where six teams were within 1.5 games of the top as of Friday, and Duke and Notre Dame were ahead by a nose. The Blue Devils are talented but not invulnerable; this was the second conference loss at home. Their four defeats this season have come by a combined nine points, and they led in the final two minutes of all four.

MORE: Duke falls in Monday night thriller

Tuesday . . .

What happened

Before a fiery home crowd, Arkansas knocked off No. 1 Auburn 80-76 in overtime, snapping the Tigers’ winning streak at 19. The Auburn players added a little fervor to the audience when they danced on the Razorback court logo before the game. But the Hogs had the last tango and the last laugh, beating a top-ranked opponent for the first time in 38 years.

Why it happened

You’d think outrebounding Arkansas 60-42, including grabbing 24 at the offensive end, would have gotten the Tigers through. But not when they shot 37.5 percent, committed 19 turnovers and were outscored 26-8 from the free throw line, where they missed nine of their 17 attempts.

What Bruce Pearl said

“We understand we have a price on our head. It’s very difficult on the road. We worked really hard to put ourselves in this position. It was tough.”

What it meant

Auburn had never been No. 1 and the Tigers have learned just how much that tag creates a fully aroused opponent and crowd at every stop. “There won’t be a better crowd than that in the next 50 years,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. Auburn escaped its previous two road games by two points at Georgia and one at Missouri. Those are currently the 14th and 12th place teams in the conference. And now that’s surging Kentucky in the Tigers’ SEC rearview mirror, now only one game back.

DOWN GOES NO. 1: Arkansas stuns No. 1 Auburn

Wednesday . . .

What happened

A double dip of top-10 upsets. SMU rallied from 15 points behind in the second half to beat No. 6 Houston 85-83 and Oklahoma rode 30 points from Omoja Gibson to a 70-55 victory over No. 9 Texas Tech.

Why it happened

SMU had its way against Houston’s prized defense. The Cougars came in allowing only 56.6 points a game and a nation-low 36.1 field goal percentage. The Mustangs went for 85 points and shot 46.4 percent.

Texas Tech suffered from the 3-point line, going 2-for-17. Gibson was 8-for-11 by himself.  The Red Raiders were steamrolled the second half 45-25.

What the coaches said

“We’ve got a bullseye on our backs and it’s not going to go away. But you know what? I’d rather have a bullseye on my back than not,” said Houston’s Kelvin Sampson.

“I thought we lost some of our poise and teamwork in the second half, so that was disappointing for me,” said Texas Tech’s Mark Adams. “I would rather this happen now than in March. We’ll learn and move on.”

What it meant

Houston has done well to keep rolling through several injuries, but the Cougars’ lack of depth might cost them against heavy competition. Three players went at least 37 minutes at SMU. Since Houston has played only one ranked opponent — losing by a point to Alabama — that question is still to be resolved.

The grueling tempo of Texas Tech’s schedule was probably certain to set up some off nights.  The Red Raiders have already played eight ranked opponents, beating five of them including Kansas and Baylor, and also lost a close game to Providence before the poll voters understood how good the Friars were.

TOP-10 STUNNERS: SMU shocks No. 6 Houston, Oklahoma takes down No. 9 Texas Tech

Thursday . . .

What happened

Michigan flattened No. 3 Purdue 82-58 in Ann Arbor. It was a rare humbling for the Boilermakers, whose three previous defeats were by a combined 10 points.

Why it happened

Purdue’s glowing stats meant nothing to the Wolverines. The Boilermakers came in leading the nation in rebound margin, and Michigan outboarded them by 10. Purdue was fourth in the nation in scoring, and managed only 58 points, 26 below its average. The Boilermakers were third in the nation in 3-point shooting, but went 4-for-18. Meanwhile, Michigan was 12-for-21. Purdue also had twice as many turnovers, but only five assists. Need we go on?

What coach Matt Painter said

“We obviously have a good team but I told them in the locker room, 'you’ve got to take inventory as an individual player but we’ve also got to take inventory collectively. We’ve had breakdowns defensively, but our offense saves us. So now if you don’t play well offensively and you don’t play well defensively and you face a team that shoots like they did, you’re in trouble.’”

What it means

Purdue might have made a case for a return to No. 1, but never mind that. The Boilermakers often look like a Final Four team, but as Painter noted, their defensive lapses have been persistent and can’t always be hidden by their massive scoring might, especially on the unforgiving Big Ten trail. Purdue is now a half-step behind Illinois and Wisconsin for the league lead and still has trips to the Badgers and Michigan State.

BOILER BLOWOUT: Michigan smokes No. 3 Purdue

But one upset loss doesn’t kill their plans. Not for any of the above. UCLA won at Stanford three days after the lost weekend in the state of Arizona, and Duke rebounded to win by 18 at Clemson on Thursday. As UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. said of moving on to the next game after the Arizona State defeat, “It’s the beauty of basketball. We’ve got another one.”

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