Three Top 10 upsets happened during the first weekend of the 2020 men’s college basketball season. Villanova (No. 3), Virginia (No. 4), and Kentucky (No. 10) fell to unranked opponents, including two mid-major schools. However, Virginia fell the hardest from their defeat.
After Three Top 10 Upsets this Weekend, Virginia Loss was the Hardest
College basketball athletes, coaching staffs, students, and basketball fans had an unusual March earlier this year. There were no raucous crowds warming the seats and weighing down the concrete platforms of neutral sites. There were no chants and cheers resonating to the rafters. No, there was just silence. It was eerily quiet in stadiums, on campuses and streets, and throughout society.
This past weekend reminded fans of what they missed but also satisfied their need for thrilling drama. Three Top 10 upsets took place: Virginia Tech defeated No. 3 Villanova, San Francisco topped No. 4 Virginia, and No. 10 Kentucky fell to Richmond.
So What, It’s Early
Yes, it’s early, but when athletic boards and college committees wake to uncertainty each morning, every game counts more than ever. This does not necessarily matter to just Power 5 teams. Schools like Virginia Tech, San Francisco, and Richmond are attempting to build their resumes come NCAA Tournament time. Non-conference victories are a boost, and when mid-majors pull off major upsets, their respective conferences benefit tremendously as well.
Powerhouse programs may affect their tournament seeding or take a blow to their confidence after a devastating loss. For example, in 2019, then-No. 1 Kentucky lost at home to 25-point underdog Evansville. Not only did they waste $90,000 to host the Aces, but they also failed to return to the top, finishing the shortened season at No. 8 in the Associated Press rankings.
However, these schools bounce back. Kentucky still finished first in the SEC last season and pulled off quality wins against ranked opponents. No one can forget when UMBC stunned Virginia in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The Retrievers became the first No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed. How did the Cavaliers respond? They won the National Championship in 2019—college basketball’s last title awarded.
Yet, Virginia is in a somewhat familiar spot. Their loss was the hardest to take over the weekend.
San Francisco 61 Virginia 60
San Francisco was hot from the arc, draining 13 three-pointers in the contest. They shot 46 percent from long distance in comparison to Virginia’s 25 percent from a measly 12 attempts. Even though the stats would promote a more lopsided contest, the Cavaliers had plenty of chances to win the game. Most notably, prized transfer Sam Hauser had a good look at a three-pointer as time expired. The career 44.5 percent three-point shooter bounced it off the rim, solidifying the Dons’ stunning victory just days into the college basketball season.
With top teams such as Gonzaga and Baylor (Saturday is going to be fun) looking like they’re already in mid-season form, Virginia should be concerned. They did not play well and blew their chances to win. San Francisco had nine more assists than Virginia and four more offensive rebounds. They also turned the ball over less and shot better from the field.
San Francisco is a solid West Coast Conference squad, and this was a big victory for the Dons after a bad loss to UMass-Lowell. Virginia is a school with big expectations. If this matchup was played another nine times, the Cavaliers would win them. It was an ugly loss for the Cavaliers, but give the Dons credit where deserved. The game helped San Francisco’s bubble case, but creates a slew of questions for Virginia. Luckily, the Cavaliers have time to bounce back, and they will have to. Virginia dropped 11 spots to No. 15 in the latest AP Top 25 rankings.
The Two Wildcats
Villanova lost to Virginia Tech 81-73 in overtime on Saturday night. The Hokies are a perennial bubble team but were slotted to finish 11th in the preseason ACC rankings. The conference is loaded and the team is undervalued. They’ve started the season 3-0, and are now ranked No. 16 in the AP Top 25 this week. Jay Wright and his squad shouldn’t dwell on this hard-fought overtime defeat, even though they fell to No. 12 in the rankings. The Wildcats beat two Power 5 non-conference opponents leading up to their first loss. They also have two games to regroup before a big weekend matchup against No. 19 Texas.
The other Wildcats should not have anything to worry about either. Kentucky lost to Richmond 76-64 on Sunday afternoon. The Spiders are a good team and should be in the NCAA Tournament this year. They are picked to win the Atlantic-10, and also received 40 votes to enter the preseason AP Top 25—where they debut at No. 19 this week. Kentucky fell unexpectedly to No. 20 after the loss, but expect the Wildcats to be well-oiled and prepared to make a run in March.
Virginia hosts Saint Francis (PA) on Tuesday afternoon.
Villanova faces the University of Hartford on Tuesday afternoon.
Kentucky meets Kansas Tuesday night for a much-anticipated matchup in the Champions Classic.
This is what basketball fans not only wanted but needed. They need Kentucky vs. Kansas. They need the upsets—albeit early. They just need the bounce of the ball against the hardwood to assure that the thrill of college basketball is back, and back with a vengeance.
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