In men’s basketball – while they’re not exactly strangers – Kentucky built an unthinkable 44-7 halftime lead Saturday in pummeling UCLA, 83-44. Less than three weeks ago, defending Big Ten Conference regular season champion Michigan fell at home to New Jersey Institute of Technology. Michigan State, the Big Ten’s defending postseason tournament champion, was shocked yesterday by Texas Southern University – which entered the game with a 1-8 record – in East Lansing. The Spartans have appeared in the NCAA national tournament 17 straight seasons; the Tigers were there last year but only four other times in the last 24 seasons. Southland Conference newcomer Incarnate Word has upset Princeton and Nebraska, the latter considered one of the 2014-15 season’s most epic upsets.
And on it goes with teams such as Wisconsin-Green Bay (defeated Miami), Brown (Providence), Yale (UConn), Southeast Oklahoma (Tulsa) and USC-Upstate (Georgia Tech) posting unexpected victories over highly respected opponents. When basketball is played in the fall semester, no lead is safe nor win assured.
Women’s basketball teams have not seen as many upsets, although unranked Tennessee-Chattanooga has taken down No. 4-ranked Tennessee and No. 7 Stanford to wake up fans and make coaches think twice about their schedule-making next season.
Today, ACU teams are coming off big games Saturday with first-time opponents.
The men’s team (4-7) and its shooting are as cold as the places they’ve played in the last week. In Idaho, the Wildcats (making only 20 percent of their shots from the field) scored their lowest point total in 30 years in a 77-33 loss at Boise State, which has won more than 21 games three of the last four seasons. Three nights earlier in Chicago, head coach Joe Golding’s team shot 25.5 percent in a 83-44 loss to Loyola.
ACU owns a win over Sacramento State this season and has lost to Duquesne, California-Riverside and Houston. In the latter, the Wildcats outrebounded the Cougars in Hofheinz Pavilion before an ESPN3 audience and trailed by just two points with 5:15 to play until UH went on a 12-2 run to overcome the upset bid.
The women’s team (7-2) is in first place in the Southland Conference after an 80-44 pounding Saturday of the Air Force Academy in Moody Coliseum. Head coach Julie Goodenough’s team – which won 18 games last year in its first year of Division I play – has wins over Eastern Washington, George Mason and Missouri-Kansas City. The Wildcats’ only two losses are to Texas Tech and Texas-San Antonio. Last season ACU beat the Lady Red Raiders in Lubbock.
The men are in Las Vegas for the Continental Las Vegas Classic this week featuring games with South Carolina State on Monday and either Southern Utah or Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday. Their loss to Boise State was ACU’s first game in the holiday tournament. The women head to Manhattan, Kan., to play Kansas State on Monday night, their second game this season with a member of the Big 12 Conference.
Southland Conference play begins Jan. 3 for both ACU teams. Follow the Wildcats at acusports.com and on this blog.