Friday, February 5, 2016

2015-16 College Basketball: The Season of Upsets

Justin Fischetti
Staff Writer

On the night of Feb. 2, the 11th ranked Providence Friars faced off against a mediocre DePaul Blue Demons squad. Providence went into the game in the midst of an impressive run in the Big East with road wins against Georgetown and then-4th ranked Villanova as well as a home win against then-18th ranked Butler; its only blemish came in a tight home game against then-7th ranked Xavier. Meanwhile, DePaul entered the game with just 1 win; a tight one against an unimpressive Marquette team, in nine Big East games played overall. Even though the game was played at DePaul, an easy Providence win was expected.
 Except things didn’t go as planned.
 DePaul, aided by a near 50% shooting performance, managed to pull off a stunning 79-72 upset win over Providence and their star Kris Dunn.
 However, given how the season has gone so far for Division 1 College Basketball, the end result of the game might not be quite as shocking as it normally would be.
 This season is on track to be known as the season of upsets. Teams ranked in the top 25 best of the country have been losing to unranked teams so frequently that it no longer seems a huge surprise when one occurs. While most years feature teams that cruise through the regular season to become a solid pick to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, this year it is seemingly impossible to predict which teams will reach the Final Four in the tournament and even difficult to determine which teams will be a top seed for the tourney.
The upsets started on opening day, when then-17th ranked Wisconsin was stunned at home by Western Illinois, who was projected to finish last in the Summit League.
Countless upsets followed afterward.
 As of the start of February, teams ranked in the top 5 have lost a combined 24 games, 13 of those losses coming against unranked opponents. This is the most losses by the country’s best teams at this point in the season in college basketball history. A top ranked team has lost 5 times so far this season; the most at this point since 1949. Top 5 teams have lost so frequently that the latest 1st-ranked team that lost - Oklahoma against Iowa State on Jan. 19th - didn’t even fall from the number one spot in the poll the next week.

 Other surprises this season include Duke’s fall out of the top 25; the first time this has happened since 2007. Some schools have disappointed so far this season such as Kentucky, California, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Utah, while other schools such as Iowa, Xavier, Miami Florida, South Carolina, and Texas A&M have exceeded expectations. With how the regular season has gone so far, we could be looking forward to quite a bit of madness in March.

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