Another day, another top-ranked college basketball team falls by the wayside when #1 Louisville (9-1) lost 70-57 to Texas Tech (6-3) during an upset at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Louisville became the latest team to succumb to the curse of the #1 ranking. Michigan State, Duke, and Kentucky all previously held the top ranking in the nation, but lost shortly after they were elevated to the #1 spot.
For the third time this season, an unranked team knocked off the #1 team in the country. Evansville, Stephen F. Austin, and now Texas Tech all played the role of spoiler at the onset of the college basketball season.
“It just means it’s a great year for college basketball,” said Texas Tech coach Chris Beard.
2019 #1 Ranking Losses
11/5/19 #2 Kentucky 69, #1 Michigan State 62
11/12/19 Evansville 67, #1 Kentucky 64
11/26/19 Stephen F. Austin 85, #1 Duke 83 (OT)
12/10/19 Texas Tech 70, #1 Louisville 57
Louisville opened the Texas Tech game as an 8-point favorite. Tech led by three points at halftime, and cruised to a 13-point victory.
David Moretti, a junior guard from Italy, shrugged off a bad shooting night to score 18 points. After missing eight, 3-point attempts, he knocked down two consecutive treys to put the Cardinals away in the second half.
Avery Benson, a former walk-on, stepped up on defensive with two key blocks, including a rejection against Louisville’s top scorer, Jordan Nwora.
Red Raiders Thrash Cardinals
Texas Tech finished as the runner-up in the 2019 March Madness Championship, but they were unranked coming into the Jimmy V Classic.
Tech started the season 5-0, but lost three games in a row to Iowa, Creighton, and DePaul. The Red Raiders snapped their three-game losing streak with a tremendous upset over Louisville.
Chris Beard’s crew at Tech are known for their hard-nosed defense from baseline to baseline. They pressed and harassed Louisville from the opening tip.
Louisville shot only 34 percent from the field, including an anemic 3-for-17 from beyond the arc. Jordan Nwora, who leads Louisville with 20 points per game this season, only scored 13 points in a losing effort. Tech’s stifling defense held Nwora to 1-for-7 from downtown.
Head coach Chris Mack didn’t care about losing the top ranking in the polls as much as the Cardinals losing their first game of the season.
“I don’t know what it speaks of,” wondered coach Mack. “I’m more worried about losing to Texas Tech.”
Louisville started out 7-0 before they faced their biggest test of the season last week. Michigan went from unranked to the #4 ranking after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, and picking off North Carolina and Gonzaga in consecutive days.
Louisville easily handled the hottest team in the country when they beat Michigan by 15 points. The won their eighth straight last weekend, with an 18-point cakewalk against Pittsburgh.
Who Will Be #1 Next?
So who will get the nod in the next poll? Kansas (7-1) or Ohio State (9-0)? Kansas holds the #2 ranking, while #3 Ohio State has yet to lose a game this season.
Kansas won eight straight since losing to #4 Duke by two points at the start of the season. The Jayhawks have one really impressive win, with a 14-point victory over #20 Colorado last weekend. Their next game is this weekend against UMKC (5-6), who are 0-5 on the road this season.
Kansas will be tested again in 10 days with a game against #20 Villanova. We’ll have to wait and see if they’re holding the #1 ranking when that game tips off on December 21.
Ohio State won 10 straight to start the season, including two victories against top-10 teams. They beat Villanova when they were ranked #10 at the time. They recently smoked #7 North Carolina 74-49, and followed that up with a 32-point blowout over Penn State.
Ohio State heads to Minnesota (4-5) this weekend for a Big Ten conference game. The Buckeyes face the last-place Badgers.