College Basketball: The 10 Biggest Upsets of the Season So Far

Ari Kramer@Ari_KramerSenior Analyst IIJanuary 11, 2011

College Basketball: The 10 Biggest Upsets of the Season So Far

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Impartial fans almost always find themselves rooting for the underdog.

    When you think about it, it's a weird tendency. Why do we pull for a team of inferior players instead of the team of All-Americans? Why is the story of David and Goliath so famous?

    Maybe we can relate to the underdog because most of us are like the Northern Iowas—or, as some of us would hate to admit, the Alcorn States—of real life. Many of us here in Bleacher Report's college basketball community want to become the next Andy Katz, but are the chances of accomplishing that goal any greater than N.J.I.T cutting down the nets in April? 

    Regardless, almost all of us root for the underdog—at least when they're not playing our favorite team.

    Without further ado, here are the 10 biggest upsets of the 2010-11 season thus far.

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Nov. 27: Richmond 65, Purdue 54

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Richmond is a very good team that probably will hear its name called on Selection Sunday. However, Purdue was No. 10 in the nation and the overwhelming favorite when it got caught in the Spiders web in November.

    Richmond led from the 15:19 mark in the first half and never relinquished control of the game afterwards. When Purdue's John Hart buried a three to cut the Boilermakers deficit to five with about seven minutes left, Kevin Anderson, who led the Spiders with 28 points, responded with a trey of his own to regain the momentum for good.

Dec. 5: USC 73, Texas 56

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    USC, one of those afterthoughts in the weak Pac-10, never trailed No. 19 Texas, who had beaten Illinois and lost by two to Pitt.

    Nikola Vucevic led USC's seven-man rotation with 24 points, and the Trojans defense held the Longhorns to 32.1 percent shooting from the floor. USC also out-rebounded Texas 33-27.

Dec. 14: Oakland 89, Tennessee 82

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Tennessee had just beaten No. 3 Pitt on the road to collect its seventh consecutive win to start the season. After winning in one of the toughest environments in college basketball, how could the Vols even worry about losing at home to Oakland?

    The Grizzlies entered the game at 5-5, but four of the five losses were against Big East or Big Ten schools. In its previous tilt, Oakland nearly upset Michigan State.

    Clearly, the Grizzlies' .500 record wasn't an accurate reflection of their talent as a team, but the Vols might have been overconfident.

    The game remained close for most of the first half until a pair of Brian Williams' foul shots broke a 31-31 tie and began a 19-8 Tennessee run to end the period.

    Early in the second half, Oakland found itself down by 13 points and eventually trailed 76-68 with 6:58 remaining. The Grizzlies then went on a five-minute, 13-0 run to take a 81-76 lead with two minutes left on the clock. 

    Larry Wright's three-pointer with 40 seconds left put Oakland up 85-79 and practically sealed the upset.

    Oakland dropped 50 points on Tennessee in the second half.

Dec. 14: Drexel 52, Louisville 46

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    If you hate slow-paced, low-scoring games, you would not have enjoyed this one.

    By all accounts, Drexel controlled the tempo, effectively slowing down Louisville and forcing difficult shots late in the shot clock. The Cardinals only attempted 47 field goals, 13 below their season average, and only converted 15 of them for points. From the charity stripe, both teams shot a paltry 48 percent.

    Sound ugly? It was. More so if you're a Louisville fan.

    Drexel out-rebounded Rick Pitino's team 45-25 and grabbed 13 offensive boards, and the Cardinals rarely capitalized on any of the Dragons' 22 turnovers.

    Although Drexel started the season 8-1, Louisville is clearly much better than the Dragons, who have lost three of their last five games.

Dec. 15: UC-Santa Barbara 68, UNLV 62

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    After suffering its first loss of the season at Louisville, UNLV hoped to rebound with a win over Santa Barbara. Unfortunately for the Runnin' Rebels, the Gauchos traveled to Las Vegas with upset aspirations, James Nunnally, Orlando Johnson and a motivated defense.

    Santa Barbara controlled the entire game with the exception of the final four minutes of the first period, when UNLV used a 12-0 run to finish the half in a 30-30 tie. The Gauchos led for almost every tick of the second half, and Nunnally drained six foul shots down the stretch to secure UCSB's victory.

    Nunnally scored 23 points, Johnson, who is averaging 18.6 points per game, struggled from the floor but grabbed 15 boards and the Gauchos defense held the Runnin' Rebels to 29 percent field goal shooting.

Dec. 17: Charlotte 49, Tennessee 48

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Just three days after being stunned by Oakland, Tennessee found itself in another tight game with a team worse than the Grizzlies.

    Charlotte kept the game close and refused to roll over every time Tennessee extended its lead, which was at six with just over two minutes to play.

    In the final two minutes, the 49ers held the Vols scoreless and forced two turnovers. Phil Jones' layup with 7.4 ticks left put Charlotte ahead, and Cameron Tatum's three in response didn't fall.

Dec. 18: Illinois-Chicago 57, Illinois 54

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    Mike Tisdale and the Fighting Illini had trouble holding onto the ball in their three-point loss to UIC.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    On December 18, the Fighting Illini headed to Chicago's United Center as winners of 10 of their last 11 games to take on the inferior Flames of Illinois-Chicago, who sported a 5-6 record.

    Much to Illinois' surprise, UIC led by as many as eight points in the first stanza, and the game was tied at halftime. Illinois had struggled to take care of the ball, turning the rock over nine times in the first half and allowing UIC to stay in the game.

    The Flames opened the second half on a 10-2 run, but the Fighting Illini responded with a 19-3 spurt of their own to take a 49-41 lead with 7:32 remaining. In most upset bids, this is where the underdog succumbs. However, a 12-5 run over the next six-and-a-half minutes left UIC down one point with 52 seconds left on the clock.

    The Flames' Robo Kreps missed a layup with 26 ticks remaining, and Illinois had a chance to put the game's fate in its own hands by corralling the board. However, Darrin Williams tipped in the miss to put UIC up by one!

    Illinois couldn't capitalize on three opportunities to regain the lead, and the Flames held on to upset No. 12 Illinois, 57-54.

Dec. 20: Jacksonville 71, Florida 68 OT

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Jacksonville will compete with Belmont and Lipscomb for the Atlantic Sun championship, but the Dolphins were clearly a huge underdog when they traveled to Gainesville to take on the No. 20 Florida Gators. 

    Neither team led by more than three in the first half, but Jacksonville held a two-point advantage at halftime. The second half began in a similar back-and-forth pattern until Florida opened a seven-point lead with 6:58 remaining. However, Jacksonville responded with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 56.

    Florida had the ball with a two-point lead and 50 seconds left, but Chandler Parsons turned the ball over with 24 ticks on the clock. Aryon Hardy tied the game with a dunk a few seconds later, and Erving Walker's potential game-winner didn't find the bottom of the net.

    In overtime, the teams traded small leads, and Jacksonville's Keith McDougald sank four clutch foul shots in the final minute to lock up the win.

Jan. 8: Colorado 89, Missouri 76

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    There's no such thing as a "gimme" conference road game.

    No. 9 Missouri couldn't handle Alec Burks' hot hand and Colorado's superior rebounding in Boulder, losing on the road by 13 points.

    Colorado definitely has potential down the road if Burks stays in school, but the Buffaloes are definitely not on the same level as the Tigers, who have beaten Illinois and lost in overtime to Georgetown. 

Jan. 8: Houston 76, UCF 71

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    Photo Credit: SBNation Houston

    Houston is no longer a C-USA contender, but the Cougars never trailed the previously undefeated Knights and staved off a second half comeback after leading by 15 at halftime. 

    The Cougars forced 16 turnovers and held UCF to 39.2 percent field goal shooting.