College Basketball: The 10 Most Shocking Blowouts so Far This Season
The college basketball season traditionally starts with powerhouse programs taking on tiny, under-matched schools in an effort to get teams ready for the tough season ahead.
Blowouts are expected and encouraged in the first few weeks of basketball season.
When conference games start, though, routs are few and far between. Every night poses a new challenge and every team plays hard in order to score a hard-fought upset or escape with an important win.
But every once in a while, one team has a hot hand or a school does not show up to play, resulting in embarrassingly one-sided losses.
This season has been full of them.
Undefeated teams have been shocked by unranked opponents, national championship contenders have been run off the floor and even at the beginning of the season when the games are supposed to be easy, some defeats have gone the wrong way.
So what have been the most shocking blowouts of this basketball season? Let’s take a look.
Florida State over North Carolina
Image from AP Photo/Gerry Broome
The North Carolina Tar Heels began the season as the consensus No. 1 team in the country. The team was returning all its starters from last season’s run to the Elite Eight and was poised for a national championship.
Some losses, such as a narrow upset by the UNLV Rebels and a loss in a game for the ages against the Kentucky Wildcats, were expected.
But being completely blown out by an unranked team? That was definitely not expected.
The Florida State Seminoles were supposed to be the third-best team in the ACC, but a few too many early season losses caused most to forget about the Seminoles and write them off completely.
Florida State absolutely mauled North Carolina, beating the Tar Heels 90-57. The Tar Heels never led in the game and the Seminoles outscored them in the second half 54-29.
Florida State held the vaunted North Carolina offense to just 37 percent shooting and 19 percent from deep.
Even the best teams have off nights every now and then, but a team that began the season as an odds-on favorite to win it all should absolutely not lose by 33 points to an unranked opponent.
Now it is North Carolina, not Florida State that people are questioning.
Oral Roberts over Xavier
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The Xavier Musketeers were ranked ninth in the country. Point guard Tu Holloway was being mentioned in National Player of the Year discussions. The team was expected to make some noise in March.
But then, in the annual rivalry game between Xavier and the Cincinnati Bearcats, a brawl erupted, resulting in the suspensions of eight players overall and four Musketeers.
The question on everyone’s mind was how would each team respond. Would Xavier survive without Holloway and integral guard Mark Lyons?
Clearly, the answer was no.
In the Musketeers' first game after the “incident,” the team was embarrassed, losing 64-42 to the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.
Xavier managed just 19 points in the first half and their leading scorer for the game finished with just 11 points.
Things did not get better for the Musketeers thereafter. Even though Holloway was suspended for just one game, Xavier went on to lose five of their next six, including their no-show against Oral Roberts.
The team has completely dropped out of the rankings and is just fifth in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Ohio State over Duke
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The Ohio State Buckeyes versus the Duke Blue Devils was supposed to pit two Top Five teams against one another in a hard-fought battle for supremacy.
Instead, it felt like Ohio State was playing yet another lowly mid-major squad from the Horizon League.
The Buckeyes completely dominated Duke, winning the game 85-63 and showing that their team would be just as good this year as they were the year before.
The Blue Devils spotted Ohio State an 11-0 lead and could never regain momentum in losing just their second game ever against a Big Ten opponent.
The Buckeyes trumped Duke in every statistical category.
The team shot almost 60 percent from the field, including 57 percent from three. Compared to Duke’s meager 47 percent from the floor and 20 percent from deep, it is not hard to see just how badly the Blue Devils were beaten.
Four of Ohio State’s five starters scored over 15 points, while Duke had just two players accomplish that feat. No other Blue Devil had more than seven.
In what was supposed to be a tight and exciting game, Ohio State simply put their foot on the gas and Duke could not catch up.
Notre Dame over Syracuse
The Syracuse Orange were 20-0 on the season, the unanimous No. 1 ranked team and playing as well as anyone in the country.
The unranked and 12-8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish would not appear to pose much of a challenge to the mighty Orange.
But they did. And then some.
Notre Dame beat Syracuse 67-58 in a game that, until the final five minutes of regulation, was not that close.
The Irish were up by 18 in the first half and outrebounded the Orange 37-24.
Syracuse is clearly one of the best teams in college basketball. It has at least eight players that could be starting, great three-point shooters and veteran leadership.
And up until their game against the Fighting Irish, Syracuse was steamrolling every Big East opponent it faced, rarely allowing a game to be in doubt after halftime.
This time, the Orange were on the opposite side. Syracuse just seemed a step slow and out of sync the entire night.
Despite their record and a fairly disappointing season to that point, the Irish simply outplayed Syracuse.
Seton Hall over UConn
The Connecticut Huskies were the defending national champions. The team was ranked eighth in the country and had a 12-2 record.
The Seton Hall Pirates have traditionally been a walk-over team for the rest of the Big East, languishing at the bottom of the standings year after year.
Connecticut had not lost to Seton Hall since 2001. Until this year.
The Pirates won a remarkably one-sided game 75-63 against the Huskies, closing the first half on a 16-3 run and never letting up after that.
Seniors Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore had simply endured too much losing to roll over against another conference opponent.
Seton Hall forced 13 Connecticut turnovers and held star Shabazz Napier to just six points on 2-of-12 shooting.
Things did not get much better for the Huskies after their loss to the Pirates. Connecticut went on to lose four of their next six games and are currently on a three-game losing streak.
The team’s no-show against Seton Hall was clearly just a preview of things to come.
Providence over Louisville
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After opening the season 12-0, the Louisville Cardinals suffered back-to-back losses to the Georgetown Hoyas and the Kentucky Wildcats.
The team then split their next two games, beating the St. John’s Red Storm and losing to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in double overtime.
The Cardinals hoped to get back on track with games against the Providence Friars and the DePaul Blue Demons, the worst two teams in the Big East Conference.
Unfortunately for Louisville, Providence had other plans. The Friars jumped on Louisville from the start and led 43-25 at halftime.
Providence rode hot shooting and good defense to a 90-59 dismantling of the Cardinals.
Two Friars players—Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts—scored 27 points each, highlighting a balanced attack in which four players scored in double figures and point guard Vincent Council finished with 14 assists.
For a team with as much early season success as Louisville had, losing by over 30 points to an unranked and under-marched opponent is unacceptable.
Louisville was ranked as highly as fourth in the polls, but is barely holding on to their spot in the Top 25 now.
Cleveland State over Vanderbilt
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The Vanderbilt Commodores were enjoying the team’s highest preseason ranking since 1965, coming into their second game of the season against the Cleveland State Vikings ranked seventh overall.
When the night was over, the Commodores lofty ranking had all but disappeared.
Cleveland State never trailed in the game and led by 13 at halftime before winning 71-58.
The Vikings stole the ball 15 times and forced 21 Vanderbilt turnovers. Cleveland State also held the Commodores to 35 percent shooting and allowed star Jeffrey Taylor just nine points to go along with six turnovers.
Vanderbilt was billed as one of the best teams in the country, a senior-led squad with Final Four aspirations.
Cleveland State won the Horizon league last year but lost their best player, Norris Cole, to the NBA Draft.
It would be hard to blame someone if they got the two teams confused. The Commodores were completely outplayed all game, were sloppy with the ball and made bad decisions.
Vanderbilt has been in and out of the Top 25 since the loss to Cleveland State, but has not yet asserted themselves as the elite team they were predicted to be at the beginning of the season.
Kansas over Baylor
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The Kansas Jayhawks have traditionally ruled the Big 12 Conference, winning the title for the past seven years.
But this season, the Baylor Bears won their first 17 games of the season and seemed poised to dethrone Kansas.
When the two teams met for the first time this season, the matchup was supposed to give the initial indication of whether or not Baylor could jump Kansas and become the best team in the conference.
After the game was over, there was no question that the Jayhawks were still the Big 12 kings.
Kansas routed the Bears, winning 92-74.
With Baylor leading 27-22, the Jayhawks went on a 17-2 run to end the half and never looked back. The Bears did not get closer than 14 points the rest of the game.
Kansas swarmed Baylor on both ends of the floor, playing suffocating defense while hitting 57 percent of their shots and going 6-of-11 from three-point range.
The Bears seemed incapable of coming together and making any kind of run, especially with the Kansas fans cheering and Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor dominating.
Many questions about not just the Big 12 title, but a national title as well, were answered in the Jayhawks’ rout, but expect them all to be raised again the next time these two teams meet.
Kansas State over Missouri
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The Missouri Tigers were 14-0, one of the last undefeated teams in college basketball. The team’s matchup with the also undefeated Baylor Bears loomed in two weeks.
So maybe the Tigers forgot about their game against the Kansas State Wildcats.
Not a team to scoff at, Kansas State was 11-2 and out to prove that the Big 12 was not just a three team race.
That they did in their blowout victory over Missouri. Kansas State won 75-59, coming out strong from the opening tip and not letting up until the game was over.
The Wildcats led by 19 at halftime and used a pressure defense to keep the Tigers out of sync for the entire game.
Kansas State forced 14 Missouri turnovers and out-rebounded the Tigers 36-22.
Missouri came into the game averaging 86.2 points per game, leading the conference in scoring by an impressive margin.
But the Wildcats were having none of it. They completely shut down the Tigers’ offense, using their defense to boost the team on a night when Kansas State had just two players score more than 10 points.
Missouri undoubtedly learned a lesson in this game—never look ahead to big games and forget about the ones right in front of you.
Colorado State over San Diego State
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The San Diego State Aztecs were 18-2 on the season and ranked No. 12 in the country. The team was coming off of a win against the UNLV Rebels a few weeks before and seemed poised to win the conference.
The Aztecs only two losses on the season had come to the Baylor Bears (by just 10 points) and the No. 22 Creighton Blue Jays by two.
But then they ran into the Colorado State Rams. The Rams were just 2-2 in the Mountain West Conference, winning one game in overtime and the other by a mere nine points.
Yet, Colorado State pulled off the unthinkable. The team did not just beat the Aztecs, they dismantled them completely.
The Rams won 77-60, setting a conference record by hitting all 23 of their free throw attempts.
Colorado State frustrated San Diego State from the start of the game, limiting the Aztecs to 14 percent three point shooting. The Rams played a tough man-to-man defense that clamped down on San Diego State’s shooters all night.
In a conference like the Mountain West, there are bound to be a few upsets. Usually however, the top two or three teams separate themselves early and make it through conference play relatively unscathed.
This season, however, San Diego State learned the hard way that no matter the conference, any team can be blown out on any night.