Defending National Champ games

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MikeUMA
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Defending National Champ games

Post by MikeUMA » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:25 am

If you're on Twitter, and you're not following me, you fu@%ing should be. But I'm duplicating my tweets on the topic over here, as the forum is really well suited for a debate.

Our first five games are in the books, so now we can finally focus on the game with Virginia, the defending national champions.

UMass is 5-1 in games versus defending champs. What better way to get hyped up for the chance at #6 than to revisit those five upsets.

I'm going to rank them in order of how big they were for the program, my opinion of course. Let's see what you think.

#5: Kansas, 12/13/2008, W 61-60, at the Sprint Center, Kansas City MO.
https://umasshoops.com/games/2008-09/1213kansas/

New head coach Derek Kellogg’s tenure was off to a rocky start, 1-6 in the first seven, and 2-6 going to Kansas City for a de facto home game with the 25th-ranked Jayhawks. UM built a 10 point lead early in the second half, and held a 4 point advantage with 36 seconds to go. KU had a chance to win in the final moments, but Tony Gaffney got a block and another deflection to seal the win.

Why do I rank this 5th? Kansas had lost a lot from that national championship team, and this victory just didn’t have that same feeling as it did in years past.

More to come as I tweet my 4 thru 1, today and tomorrow.

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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by uz2b-len » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:31 pm

I was thinking about this also, how many national champs have we faced. I came up with the two obvious ones from the Calipari years. They're particularly memorable because they were meaningful in terms of the ultimate accomplishment of those UMass teams. They were part of a journey to greatness. Obviously that can't be said about the Kansas game, although it was pretty damn exciting. I don't see that you're asking us to guess about the other champion opponents, so I'll stop there. But I hope that McCall brings that 5-1 record to the players' attention.
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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by InnervisionsUMASS » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:47 pm

My list:


5: Kansas
4: Florida
3: UConn
2: Arkansas
1: UNC
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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by eldonabe » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:50 pm

Arkansas has to be the #1 game.....

Lou Roe put on an absolute show in one of the most dominant performances I have ever seen a kid in college basketball perform. It would have been even more impressive if he did not have to come out from dehydration cramps in his legs. That game was literally over on the tip off.....
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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by bobolink » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:53 pm

the Kansas win felt somewhat like a fluke even while being very enjoyable. Maybe we were overlooked or not taken seriously enough by Kansas. That game gave us some, "hey we could be very good after all" but was not very convincing.
Others, like those mentioned from the Calipari years, felt like "yeah, we're that good now". Perhaps answering the "how good will this year be?" with a resounding "very good, maybe even great" (in terms of UMass team's history).
Exception might be the UConn win, which didn't convince me, but it was UConn so brought extra satisfaction.

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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by DrG » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:58 pm

I agree with Arkansas because of the way the game started. When Arkansas took the floor, their players just stood around, held their arms up and invited the crowd to admire them. Then Roe got loose off Camby's opening tip, flushed it 2 seconds into the game and the Civic Center went absolutely nuts. But the UNC game in MSG was a close second.

Mike, what's your Twitter handle so I can follow you? See you at Mohegan.

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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by InnervisionsUMASS » Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:10 pm

I put UNC as #1 because I think it provided validity that we were a legit force to be reckoned with and that the year before wasn't a fluke. To me, it's the most important one out of the 5, and probably helped provide guys like Roe the confidence to be able to smack Arkansas in the mouth the next season.
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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by DrG » Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:56 pm

^ I hear you, all very good points. I was just expressing a personal preference.

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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by MikeUMA » Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:56 pm

Good start guys.

Here's a guide to help refresh your memory:
https://umasshoops.com/wiki/doku.php?id ... nal_champs

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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by InnervisionsUMASS » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:03 pm

DrG wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:56 pm
^ I hear you, all very good points. I was just expressing a personal preference.

Same here, but I didn't explain it... wanted folks to get where I was coming from.

The Arkansas game is no doubt the best performance. To take it a small step further than eldon, I'd say that game was over before they even tipped off.
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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by Old Cage » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:48 pm

Here's one that slips in the side door:

Until the late 50's, the NIT was considered the more prestigious post-season tournament. Holy Cross won the NIT in the spring of 1954, and celebrated winning the "National Championship."

That fall, we played Holy Cross, losing 85-64, in a game that was played either in the Worcester Auditorium or Mechanics Hall. One of those facilities was HC's home court at the time.

I have no memeory of attending that game, and probably didn't, but I did attend several HC games with my sports nut uncle, and remember HC star Togo Palazzi, who become the Celtics first round draft pick and played several years for them.
"Jack didn’t have any envy in him," Calipari said. "He was the greatest coach to ever coach here."

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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by LS71 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:49 pm

To me it has to be Arkansas with North Carolina second.

While I agree with IV that North Carolina win was significant in that it validated UMass as legit, the Arkansas game was each team’s first game of the season and Arkansas had a rep...40 minutes of hell. They were an intimidating team.

The Springfield CC is the homiest of neutral sites possible so it was definitely a pro-UMass crowd. The place was electric.

I went to the open practice they had as part of the Classic. Arkansas players were burying threes from behind the benches...not even on the court. :shock:

I remember thinking uh-oh.

Then Lou dunks to open the game and it was good night Irene! 8)
Last edited by LS71 on Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by Roadtrip » Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:01 pm

The UNC game is still #1 for me. The start was just crazy, down 11-0, pretty sure Cal called the time out and told them this shit was not going to happen.

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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by MikeUMA » Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:18 pm

Tweeted my #4...

Florida, 4/1/2008, W 78-66, at Madison Square Garden
https://umasshoops.com/games/2007-08/0401florida/

The hope of an NCAA Tournament invite didn’t work out in 2008, so Gary Forbes and company made the most of their opportunity in the NIT, shocking Syracuse in the quarter-final with a massive comeback win. At MSG, NYC-native Dante Milligan stood out with 17 & 12, as bus loads of UMass fans made the trek down from Amherst to enjoy the victory. And in hindsight, Florida’s Director of Operations was Matt McCall.

Why 4th? A very entertaining win, but it wasn’t in the tournament we wanted, and it was ultimately the next-to-last game for coach Travis Ford. His recruiting class didn’t pan out, and it would be a few years to put things back together again.

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Re: Defending National Champ games

Post by Dickie Dunn » Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:48 pm

Having sat courtside for both, there is no doubt in my mind the UNC game is No. 1, just for the sheer magnitude of what UMass accomplished that night and the buzz surrounding that win.

The win over Arkansas was tremendous, of course, but UMass was ranked No. 3 in the country to start that season and a trendy Final Four pick, So while the Razorbacks indeed were loaded, no one should have been shocked by a UMass victory, regardless of how lopsided it ended up being.

UMass cracked the top 10 for the first time ever based partly (mostly?) off the UNC win. They did lose to Kansas two nights later, but then went to Norman and beat a good Oklahoma team by a point on Sunday to cap quite the whirlwind week. The Minutemen were No. 9 in the AP poll the next day.

Of course, UMass reached No. 1 for the first time ever off the Arkansas win, but I just believe the UNC win was more of a program-defining moment.

Good topic, though!
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