by Arnie Leshin
Blame the coronavirus pandemic, as 21 of the top-ranked women’s college basketball team did not play on Saturday. As for the men, 11 games were either postponed or cancelled.
But who do you blame the multiple Saturday upsets on? On the men’s side, everything went well for the No. 1 and No. 2 unbeatens, Gonzaga and Baylor, with the Zags winning their 13th straight by upending rival St. Mary’s, 77-63, and the Bears advancing to 12-0 with a 68-60 struggle at 15th-ranked Texas Tech, which just nipped No. 4 Texas on the road on a buzzer-basket.
But after that, it was brutal, as in unexpected. The biggest fall of all came when No. 7 Michigan lost for the first time in a dozen starts when No. 23 Minnesota (11-4) led from start to finish in a 75-57 Big 10 surprise.
Next came No. 8 Creighton losing to unranked Butler, 70-66, in overtime to drop to 10-3. The biggest embarrassment was delivered to No. 12 Clemson, which was routed, 85-50, at ACC rival, No. 18 Virginia, and fell to 9-2 as the Cavaliers improved to 9-2
Also In the Big 10, there was No. 14 Illinois (9-5) with its second-straight setback, a 87-81 loss against visiting No. 21 Ohio State, which won its 11th of 14 starts. Also in the ACC, No. 16 Louisville became 9-2 with its 78-72 defeat at unranked Miami.
The apparent top contest this week could be in the Big 12 when No. 6 Kansas (10-3) is at Texas, which is now 11-2. And way back as the 23rd-ranked perennial power Duke sits there at 5-3, and with all three losses at home.
And only Gonzaga and Baylor are sporting unblemished records.
As for the women, one stunner was 6th-ranked Baylor losing 75-71 in overtime at unranked Iowa State in Big 12 play, with defending national champion Bears’ head coach, Kim Mulkey, voicing her displeasure after missing two games when she tested positive for COVID-19.
“It’s really a big shame,” she said, “that the NCAA, despite the virus threat, is still playing and cashing in from the men’s games. I’m still not feeling all that well, and I can’t every remember having such a miserable time as a coach. But we continue to play amid postponements and cancellations, sad but true.”
One other top 25 surprise was unranked Nebraska dealing visiting No. 15 Ohio State a 63-55 setback in the Big 10. The Buckeyes dropped their first game in eight starts.
Unbeatens in women’s hoops are top-ranked Stanford (11-0), 2nd-ranked Louisville (11-0), 3rd-ranked North Carolina State (10-0), 4th-ranked Connecticut (7-0), and 13th-ranked Michigan (10-0). It’s a mixture here of PAC12, ACC, Big East, and Big 10 teams.
EXTRA POINTS: There are nine schools with both their men and women ranked in the top 25. There is Baylor, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, Louisville, Ohio State, Oregon, and UCONN. That’s 25-2 for Gonzaga, 21-1 for Michigan, 20-2 for Baylor, 20-2 for Louisville, 20-4 for Texas, 14-1 for Connecticut, 18-3 for Tennessee, 18-4 for Ohio State, and 18-5 for Oregon.
Baylor is listed second among the men and sixth among the women. Louisville is second among the women and 16th among the men. Texas is fourth among the men and 21st among the women. Michigan is seventh among the men and 13th among the women. And Connecticut is fourth among the women and 25th among the men, while Oregon is 10th among the women and 22nd among the men.