Monday Tip: Impactful upsets

Gerry Ahern and Jason King
Tom Izzo called Saturday's 66-62 loss at Penn State one of the most disappointing losses of his career

Action on the court this weekend sent shockwaves through college basketball as seven teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 took a tumble.

Shakedown Saturday saw power programs from the Big East, Big Ten, SEC and Conference USA lose to unranked teams. Georgetown, Michigan State, Missouri, Kansas State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Central Florida all fell flat.

Sure, it's still early, but never too soon to be thinking about conference races and NCAA tournament seeding.

Which brings us to this week's question: Which loss by a ranked team to an unranked conference foe could prove the most damaging?


Michigan State's 66-62 loss at Penn State has the potential to be the most hurtful. With Ohio State and Purdue seemingly picking up steam, the Spartans ceded important ground in the Big Ten race. Coming off a three-point win at Northwestern, this was not a game Tom Izzo's team could afford to drop. He called it one of the most disappointing losses of his career. Most concerning was the way MSU's frontcourt was dominated by the Nittany Lions, one of the worst teams in the conference. Though Durrell Summers (21 points) and Kalin Lucas (14 points) were mostly effective, the Spartans’ bigs contributed little. Draymond Green had 10 rebounds but just five points. Delvon Roe, plagued by foul trouble, managed just seven points. A team that started the season No. 2 in the country and was predicted to make the Final Four now has five losses. None was more damaging than this. There's plenty of time to bounce back, but a better effort up front, better free-throw shooting (they made just 10-of-20 against Penn State) and better execution with the game on the line will be necessary. Against the Lions, Summers fired up an airball on a potential tying 3-pointer with 10 seconds left. MSU must take better care of the ball and get its mind right on the glass if it is to live up to its preseason billing. Purdue has won 10 games in a row, including all four of its league games easily. Ohio State has yet to lose and has the best player in the Big Ten, Jared Sullinger. Illinois is also off to a 3-0 conference start. The Spartans have left themselves little margin for error.


Kansas State entered the 2010-11 campaign ranked as high as No. 2 in some preseason polls. These days, though, Frank Martin's team doesn't even look good enough to finish in the top half of the Big 12. Saturday's 76-62 loss at Oklahoma State marked the third setback for the Wildcats in their last six games. And with red-hot Colorado coming to Manhattan on Wednesday, things could get worse before they get better. But back to Saturday's game: There's certainly no shame in losing to Oklahoma State in Stillwater – unless you're the preseason pick to win the league and the setback comes by 14 points. Oklahoma State, at best, is a mid-level Big 12 team that entered the game without a single victory over a quality opponent. Less than two weeks ago the Cowboys lost to unranked Gonzaga by 19 points. But Travis Ford's squad didn't have too much trouble against Kansas State, which showed little toughness down the stretch by squandering an eight-point lead with 10 minutes remaining. The defeat clearly rattled the Wildcats, who left Gallagher-Iba Arena without speaking to reporters. One of Kansas State's biggest problems continues to be a lack of production in the paint. All four of the Wildcats' big men fouled out of Saturday's game. That includes Jamar Samuels and Wally Judge, who combined for just 12 points and committed five turnovers each. Granted, Kansas State is playing without standout forward Curtis Kelly, who is serving a suspension for receiving discounted items from a local clothing store. But the return of Kelly may not be enough to solve all of Kansas State's ills. Martin has complained all season that his team is immature and lacks a pure leader. The Wildcats better find one – fast – or a season that began with such high expectations could end in major disappointment.