BY MARK MAYER
Only four times since 1930 had North Carolina lost a season opening game. That may explain why the Tar Heels don’t venture much to the Far West.
Santa Clara not only covered as a 16-point underdog, but stunned the college basketball world with 77-66 victory in Oakland. Kyle Bailey hit three crucial three-point shots in the second half to help knock UNC from eighth to No. 25 in the latest GamingToday poll.
UNC wasn’t the only Top Five team to receive a scare. Kansas, ranked fourth, was pushed to the limit before holding off lightly-regarded Vermont, 68-61. Taylor Coppenrath scored 23 points for the double-digit dog Catamounts, which made the NCAA Tournament the past two years.
Other teams making major statements in the first week were Syracuse, Memphis and Mississippi State. The Orange won the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament at Madison Square Garden with four wins. Mississippi State and Memphis each won three games, losing in the semifinals and finals respectively to Syracuse.
This week features a number of tournaments around the country, including the Las Vegas Invitational at the Thomas & Mack.