College Basketball: 25 Biggest Upsets to Come Before March Madness

Matt OveringContributor IIIDecember 19, 2011

College Basketball: 25 Biggest Upsets to Come Before March Madness

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    No team has made it through the college basketball season undefeated since St. Joseph's did it in the 2003-2004 season. Before that, it was UNLV in the 1990-1991 season. 

    What does that mean?

    Upsets are bound to happen. Undefeated seasons are few and far between, so we can expect top teams to lose.

    So far this year, we have seen two No. 1 teams fall. North Carolina fell to UNLV on November 26th, and Kentucky lost to Indiana December 10th. Syracuse passed its first test as the No. 1 team in the nation, beating North Carolina State 88-72. 

    Predicting upsets can be difficult. Very few people expected UNLV and Indiana to pull off their huge upsets, although one could have thought those games could go either way.

    So, when will another top-ranked team fall? What other ranked teams will lose to seemingly inferior opponents?

    Here are the 25 biggest upsets to watch out for during the rest of the regular season. Games will be placed chronologically.

Long Beach State vs. Xavier, Dec. 21

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    Long Beach State and Xavier will travel to Honolulu for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The 49ers of Long Beach State have played a very rough slate thus far this year, as four of their first nine games were against opponents ranked in the top 10.

    Xavier has a much longer travel time for this game compared to the California squad, which will definitely work against them.

    Chris Mack's coaching skill will be put to the test in a game very far from home, against a team that has already proven they can knock off a top-10 team.

Memphis at Georgetown, Dec. 21

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    This will be the second time Memphis and Georgetown meet, and this time, roles are reversed: The Hoyas are ranked and the Tigers are not.

    Roles will be switched, and the outcome will as well. Memphis has started this season off slow, and they need to prove they belong in the top 25. This game will provide them that opportunity, as well as a chance to avenge a 91-88 overtime loss to Georgetown at the Maui Invitational.

Mississippi State vs. Baylor, Dec. 28

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    Baylor has a great chance of being the first team not named Kansas to win the Big 12 since 2004. 

    However, I think this Baylor team has yet to prove themselves this year. A close win at BYU was nice, but BYU is nowhere near their talent level, or Mississippi State.

    Mississippi State is a very good team and will provide Baylor with a rough wake-up call before conference play.

Ohio State at Indiana, Dec. 31

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    Could lightning strike in the same place twice?

    Assembly Hall was home to the best buzzer-beating shot of the season on December 10, where Indiana shocked Kentucky into its first loss of the year.

    That was definitely a big home win, but a win against Ohio State on New Year's Eve would be the best way to ring in the New Year in Bloomington. 

Creighton at Wichita State, Dec. 31

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    Creighton and Doug McDermott are one of the best mid-majors this year. Creighton leads the nation in assists as a team and is top five in scoring. They are a great squad.

    However, I don't think they will finish the season with only one loss. 

    A game at Wichita State will be a very tough road test early in conference play for the Bluejays, and that is where I see Creighton slipping up.

Connecticut at Seton Hall, Jan. 3

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    Seton Hall, much like Creighton, is one of college basketball's best-kept secrets, anchored by seniors Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore.

    Connecticut is a great team, but I don't think they will be able to make it through the Big East conference schedule unscathed. 

    Seton Hall has the potential to upset teams in the Big East much like St. John's did last year, and I fully expect them to deliver.

Marquette at Syracuse, Jan. 7

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    This will be where Syracuse falls for the first time. 

    Marquette is one of those Big East teams that could win it all or could disappoint and fall on their face in the first round. They can score with the best of them and also play a half-court game, as shown in their win over Wisconsin. 

    Syracuse will be coming off two road games in the six days before this game, giving Marquette an edge for this upset.

Kansas at Oklahoma, Jan. 7

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    The Oklahoma basketball program has seen better days.

    However, they have the size to stay in the game with Kansas, and Steven Pledger is a solid scoring threat for the Sooners. 

    Kansas will be coming off an emotional game against rival Kansas State and will be susceptible to an upset.

Murray State vs Someone from the OVC

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    If anyone has a shot to go undefeated this year, it is Murray State. As the opening slide states, however, I do not think Murray State will go undefeated. 

    I'm not sure who the Racers could lose to in the Ohio Valley Conference. A win at Memphis was the toughest test they will face all season.

    This team is experienced, talented and poised to make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Duke at Maryland, Jan. 25

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    Maryland has been known to have one of the rowdiest student sections in the nation. 

    Couple that with the fact that this game means more to Maryland than it does for Duke, and you have an upset. 

    Maryland sports a good team as well. Guard Pe'Shon Howard will be back and will provide stability to Maryland's backcourt.

Harvard at Yale, Jan. 27

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    While this may not seem like a "big" upset, it may dash the hopes of Harvard making the Big Dance without an Ivy League championship, which could be very important.

    This rivalry speaks for itself and should be a great game to watch. Yale is sporting an above-average team, and Harvard has been a very pleasant surprise thus far.

Louisville at Seton Hall, Jan. 28

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    Seton Hall with another top-10 upset?

    You bet.

    The last two times Seton Hall has played Louisville at home, they have won. Seton Hall matches up well with Louisville and should score another upset on January 28.

Missouri at Texas, Jan. 30

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    Missouri is another upstart team in the Big 12, and for good reason. Marcus Denmon and Kim English are part of a very deep backcourt for the Tigers.

    Unfortunately, I don't think Missouri will be consistent throughout their conference games. A slip up at Texas will be one of few for a great Mizzou team.

Pittsburgh at West Virginia, Jan. 30

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    This may not be the best team Bob Huggins has coached, but they have experience.

    Kevin Jones is potentially a first-team All-Big East player, and Pittsburgh has shown that they are vulnerable to upsets.

    All these signs point to the Mountaineers being able to pull off the upset at home.

Ohio State at Wisconsin, Feb. 4

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    When Ohio State was the top-ranked team in the nation last year, it was Wisconsin that dethroned them, and it could happen again this year.

    I can't say whether or not Ohio State will be the No. 1 team in the nation on February 4, but I can say Wisconsin will give them a run for their money when they meet.

Xavier at Memphis, Feb. 4

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    Boy, does Xavier need Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, and Dez Wells. 

    Xavier will no doubt rebound from their December 18 meeting with Oral Roberts and continue their trek to a high seed in the NCAA tournament. When they travel to Memphis, however, they should expect a very close, high-scoring game.

    Both teams can score in bunches, and because Memphis is at home, I give them the slight advantage.

Syracuse at St. John's, Feb. 4

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    Some picked St. John's to have an upstart year in 2011-2012, but they have disappointed.

    They have not had their coach, Steve Lavin, on the sideline for a majority of the year, and their play has been uninspiring.

    However, a victory over Syracuse would be a staple win for an otherwise underwhelming year for the Red Storm.

Virginia at North Carolina, Feb. 11

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    Virginia winning AT North Carolina?

    Believe it.

    Virginia is the third-best team in the ACC, and North Carolina will be coming off a monumental game against Duke three days prior to this game.

    The Cavaliers are a tournament team this year and have a great opportunity to prove it on February 11.

Ohio State at Michigan, Feb. 18

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    Michigan is enjoying their second season in a row with a 9-2 start and has more talent this year than last. Freshman Trey Burke has been great and should continue to give the Wolverines great guard play.

    Playing in Ann Arbor, I expect Michigan to pull off the upset over Ohio State. 

    I predict this to be the third loss for Ohio State in conference play and the fourth on the year, in what should be another overall great year for the Buckeyes.

Baylor at Texas, Feb. 20

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    Not much love for Baylor here, is there?

    I do think Baylor is a great team. I just think on February 20, Texas will be the better team. 

    J'Covan Brown and Texas have the potential to knock off a top Big 12 team, and Baylor has been known to stumble in conference play. 

Kentucky at Mississippi State, Feb. 21

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    It seems like every year, Kentucky loses a road game to an SEC West opponent that they are heavily favored against.

    Kentucky has the luxury of playing Alabama at home this year, but they won't be as lucky when they go to Mississippi State on February 21. 

    Kentucky will no doubt be getting the best shot from every SEC opponent they play, and I don't think they will be able to make it through SEC play without a loss.

Duke at Florida State, Feb. 23

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    Florida State was a surprise in the NCAA tournament last year, beating Texas A&M and No. 2 seed Notre Dame. 

    This year, however, they have left much to be desired. The Seminoles started the season in the top 25, but three consecutive losses to Harvard, Connecticut and Michigan State have swept them under the rug.

    Florida State took Connecticut to overtime, and they could surprise Duke in the same way with a win.

Xavier at Saint Louis, Feb. 28

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    Saint Louis had a great start to the year, beating Washington, Boston College, Villanova and Oklahoma early in the year. They are experienced, shoot well from both the field (48.4 percent) and beyond the arc (41.1 percent).

    A game against Xavier near the end of conference play could very well determine the winner of the Atlantic 10, and I think the Billikens will pull off the upset at home.

Florida at Vanderbilt, Feb. 28

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    Memorial Gym is one of the toughest places to play in the nation, although it hasn't been as intimidating this year compared to those previous. 

    You can expect Vanderbilt to get their act together come conference play, especially with Festus Ezeli back in the lineup. A win against Florida would save an otherwise disastrous season for the Commodores. 

North Carolina at Duke, Mar. 3

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    Arguably the best rivalry in all of college hoops, Duke and North Carolina provide us with a great game to watch every year. 

    On March 3, Duke will almost certainly be ranked lower than preseason No. 1 North Carolina. Duke doesn't have the depth they have had in previous years while North Carolina is the exact opposite.

    Although Duke may struggle in conference play, they will bring their best performance of the year against rival North Carolina. This upset will stage a great ACC tournament and will have ramifications across the college basketball spectrum.