Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two Undefeated Teams Fall: Louisville Upsets No. 1 Pittsburgh, Wake Forest Beats Clemson

On Saturday, two of college basketball's undefeated teams were handed their first loss of the season. And in one of those games, the top ranked team in America get upset by a bitter -- albeit relatively new -- conference rival.

Saturday night saw No. 20 Louisville end No. 1 Pittsburgh's dreams of an undefeated season. More here, and here. The Cardinals beat the visiting Pitt Panthers 69-63 in front of 20,000 observers in Freedom Hall.

Terrence Williams paced Louisville (13-3, 4-0 Big East) with 20 points. Jermaine Dixon finished with a career-high 19 to lead Pitt (16-1, 4-1 Big East).

Head coach Rick Pitino has Louisville surging. Earlier in the week, his Cardinals beat No. 13 Notre Dame 87-73 in overtime.

Saturday's Louisville upset marked another milestone in the emerging Louisville vs. Pittsburgh rivalry. The Cardinals and the Panthers are not traditional rivals. But since Louisville joined the Big East in 2006, the Louisville vs. Pitt rivalry has become one of the most heated rivalries in college basketball.

Wake Forest Hands Clemson First Loss

Also on Saturday, No. 2 Wake Forest put it's unblemished record on the line in Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum against its similarly unbeaten Atlantic Coast Conference rival, the No. 10 Clemson Tigers. Wake Forest emerged with its perfect record intact, as the Demon Deacons beat the Tigers 78-68.

With its 16-0 record, Wake Forest is off to the best start in school history. Jeff Teague led the Demon Deacons (16-0, 3-0 ACC) with 24 points. Clemson fell to 16-1, 3-1 ACC.

It's been quite a week for Wake Forest. Last Sunday, the Demon Deacons knocked off No. 3 North Carolina. Wake Forest will, undoubtedly, move to No. 1 in the nation when the new AP Top 25 is released on Monday.

The last four years have been a whirlwind for Wake Forest basketball. In December 2004, a Wake Forest team led by point guard and current NBA star Chris Paul took its No. 1 ranking to Champaign, IL, to face Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. But the Illini blew Wake away in the hostile Assembly Hall and wrestled the No. 1 ranking from the Demon Deacons. Illinois held on to the No. 1 slot until they fell to North Carolina in the 2004/05 NCAA National Championship game. And what had been a much heralded Wake Forest team fell to West Virginia on the first weekend of the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

Wake Forest then went relatively dormant for two seasons, but landed a stellar recruiting class in 2007. Tragically, Wake Forest's head coach, Skip Prosser died of a heart attack before the 2007 Fall Semester began. But assistant coach Dino Gaudio took over the shaken program and continued Prosser's system.

Now, one year later, Gaudio has Wake Forest out to the best start in the history of the program and atop the college basketball world.

Like his counterpart Dino Gaudio at Wake Forest, Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell also has his team out to the best start in school history. But although Clemson's dreams of an undefeated season have been squelched, there's no doubt that the Clemson basketball program is earning respect and making people stand up and take notice at what has traditionally been a football-crazy, but basketball-apathetic, school.

(Image of Louisville vs. Pittsburgh: Breitbart, Image of Wake Forest vs. Clemson, Washington Post).


Clemson Clyde said...

Its bout time yall start taklin about Clemson again. Seems like all U wanna do these days is write about the Big10. Man, aint nobody wanna hear bout the sorry ass big10!!

Have Jumpshot Will Travel (a.k.a. Trashtalk Superstar) said...


Actually, we've been talking about Wake Forest quite a bit lately. And why not: Wake Forest is undefeated, and they just beat UNC and put a fork in Clemson's chances of remaining undefeated. Right now, Wake is probably the hottest team in the country (although not necessarily the best).

Plus, a lot of Drive and Dish's traffic comes from Wake Forest fans. I'm not sure why that is. But I'm always surprised at how many people find this blog after searching for Wake Forest related items.

But aside from you, nobody ever finds us after searching for Clemson basketball material.