Hoops at last! The college basketball season has tipped off, and things will really get good and frenzied this weekend. No fewer than 195 games involving at least one Division I team are scheduled for Friday and Saturday alone. And that's just the opening act in a November that promises to provide plenty of entertainment for anyone hiding from the annual BCS debates.
Before we feast on all that action I'm here to offer a helpful guide to some of the upsets you may encounter. I realize of course that "upset" is a relative term, now that we've seen a Tennessee team ranked in the top 25 lose an exhibition game by 15 at home to Division II Indianapolis. Still, I think it's likely that more surprises await.
Let's get right to it....
Old Dominion shocks No. 21 Georgetown!
Friday, November 12
Or would it really be so shocking? These same two teams met last year on December 19 in the Hoyas' on-campus gymnasium, McDonough Arena, and the Monarchs won 61-57. This year ODU will be playing on their home floor in the friendly confines of the Ted Constant Center. The last time you saw coach Blaine Taylor's team they were scaring the daylights out of Baylor in the second round of the NCAA tournament, having already done away with Notre Dame. The star of that team, Gerald Lee, is gone, but Old Dominion has most if not all of its weapons back on defense. And D is where the Monarchs reign supreme. Not that Georgetown will be helpless in the face of all that might, mind you. In our College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11, I said John Thompson III's "nucleus of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Jason Clark combines efficiency with experience about as well as any trio in the nation." It should be a great collision, one that I expect to go down to the wire.
Miami stuns No. 19 Memphis!
Monday, November 15
Make that Tuesday, November 16, I guess. This game will tip off at midnight ET Monday night as part of ESPN's 24-hour hoops marathon. Ordinarily picking an ACC team to prevail against a Conference USA opponent wouldn't exactly qualify as a stunner, but I'm actually pretty far out on a limb on this one. The Hurricanes will be the road team, and they'll enter FedEx Forum without Dwayne Collins, who was his team's leading scorer and rebounder as a senior last year. Don't cry for Frank Haith just yet, though. The coach has a potential star in the making in Reggie Johnson. Make that a big star: even Johnson's own school lists his weight as 303 pounds. If the big guy can stay on the floor and out of foul trouble his sophomore year, you should be hearing his name a lot. (From me, at least.) Memphis has talent to burn, of course, but some of that Tiger talent is young. How will elite freshmen like Joe Jackson and Jelan Kendrick fare in their first outing against a major-conference opponent? We're about to find out.
Portland upends No. 10 Kentucky!
Friday, November 19
This is going to be a game between two really young teams that have both said goodbye to most (Portland) or virtually all (Kentucky) the players who scored points for them last year. On a floor with so much youth, senior Pilot guard Jared Stohl will look like the old guy who's come back for Homecoming. The game's being played at the Rose Garden in Portland--not the home floor for Eric Reveno's team but a few time zones away from Lexington, Kentucky, just the same. If Stohl, who made 48 percent of his threes last year, heats up from outside the Wildcats could fall.
Morehead State rocks No. 11 Florida!
Sunday, November 21
We are now a long way away from Old Dominion winning on their home floor against a team ranked No. 21 in the nation. For Morehead State to win in Gainesville a lot is going to have to go right for Donnie Tyndall's team. The Gators are deep, talented, and experienced. For their part the Eagles have Kenneth Faried, quite possibly the most statistically incredible player in all of Division I. Here's just one of his many outrageous numbers: Last year Faried rebounded 37 percent of the other team's missed shots during his minutes, the best mark in the country. Any team with a player like that has a chance, even on the road against an opponent as tough as Billy Donovan's team.
Marquette topples No. 1 Duke!
Monday, November 22
Let's end with a real reach, shall we? You might remember a recent piece I did where I said that Duke is clearly the best team in the nation. And now here I am saying they're going to lose to an unranked opponent? Make up your mind, Gasaway! Actually I still think the Blue Devils are a solid No. 1 but, hey, they lace up their shoes one at a time just like Marquette, right? This game will be played in Kansas City as part of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic, far from Cameron Indoor. Maybe Kyrie Irving will still be rounding into form for Mike Krzyzewski. That's happened before with elite point guards--even Derrick Rose wasn't a world-beater in the November of his freshman year. And the Golden Eagles have a solid one-two combination in Darius Johnson-Odom and Jimmy Butler. I feel a surprise coming. You heard it here first.
John also fearlessly predicts wins for home teams on Twitter: @JohnGasaway. College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11 is now available as a PDF. You're enjoying a Basketball Prospectus Premium free preview. Find out more about Premium subscriptions and keep reading all season long.
John Gasaway is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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