There were only a couple of marquee matchups on college basketball's opening night Tuesday, but that didn't spare some big-name schools from some big-time embarrassment. The most notable victim was No. 25 Virginia, which lost 66-58 to Navy as the Midshipmen sank 11-of-21 attempts from 3-point range for their first win over a ranked team since David Robinson played for Navy back in 1986.
The Cavaliers are replacing their top-three scorers from last season's 18-7 squad but were still favored by 15.5. Considering UVA lost to No. 13 seed Ohio in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament and also holds the distinction of being the only No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the program should perpetually be on upset alert at this point.
AP voters gave Virginia the benefit of the doubt by ranking UVA in the preseason poll, and that faith was clearly misplaced. The Cavaliers were the only ranked team to lose to an unranked opponent on Tuesday, but they weren't the only to get a scare.
Avoiding an upset was No. 17 Ohio State -- a 16.5 point favorite over in-state foe Akron -- with a 67-66 win vs. the Zips. The Buckeyes surrendered a 4-point play in the final 10 seconds that put them behind, but Zed Key drained a go-ahead bucket on the opposite end just before time expired to take back the lead for good.
Those are but a couple of many wacky results as the season got underway, of course. Tidbits and highlights from around the country are included below in our opening day recap.
Coaches making debuts shine
First-year coaches and coaches making their debuts at new schools enjoyed success for the most part, highlighted by No. 5 Texas handling Houston Baptist 92-48 in Chris Beard's first game and North Carolina knocking off Loyola (Maryland) 83-67 in Hubert Davis' debut. Minnesota (Ben Johnson), Texas Tech (Mark Adams), Iowa State (T.J. Otzelberger), Marquette (Shaka Smart), Indiana (Mike Woodson), Oklahoma (Porter Moser), Boston College (Earl Grant), Utah (Craig Smith), Arizona (Tommy Lloyd) and Cincinnati (Wes Miller) all won in their openers as well.
Elite freshmen make their debuts
The game's elite freshmen put their games on the big stage for the first time Tuesday. Chet Holmgren debuted with 14 points 13, rebounds, seven blocks and six assists in Gonzaga's 97-63 win over Dixie State. The the No. 1 ranked prospect in the 2021 recruiting class also turned the ball over five times, but it was nonetheless an impressive debut. Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren also enjoyed successful opening acts as No. 12 Memphis knocked off Tennessee Tech 89-65. Bates, the No. 5 prospect in the class, finished with 17 points and four assists on 6-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. Duren, the No. 6 prospect, scored 15 points grabbed six rebounds and had five blocks.
Jabari Smith, the No. 7 prospect, finished with eight points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in just 21 minutes during Auburn's 77-54 win over Morehead State. No. 8 prospect Patrick Baldwin Jr. finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds in Milwaukee's 75-60 win over North Dakota. No. 9 prospect Kennedy Chandler had 20 points and four assists in No. 18 Tennessee's 90-62 win over Tennessee-Martin. Rounding out the top-10 ranked freshman in action was No. 2 overall prospect Paolo Banchero, who finished with 22 points and seven rebounds while playing through what appeared to be severe cramping in No. 9 Duke's 79-71 win over No. 10 Kentucky.
Cal gets trounced by second-year D-I program
Cal took arguably the worst loss of opening day in college hoops among power schools, falling to UC San Diego -- a still-transitioning Division I school -- 80-67. The Tritons, as they are known, trailed for the majority of the contest before taking the lead midway through the second half and cruising to a comfortable victory.
UC San Diego transferred from Division II up to Division I in 2020 and has long been a consistent performer at the lower division so it's not completely shocking. Ah, who are we kidding? It's a brutal, shocking loss for Mark Fox and Cal at home to open the season against a UC San Diego team that with the win is now 1-0 against Pac-12 opponents. Cal's misery did have some company in the Pac-12, however, as Washington lost 71-64 at home as a 19.5-point favorite against Northern Illinois. The Bears and Huskies finished last in the league last season, and the early returns suggest there's been little improvement.
Kansas puts away turnover-prone Michigan State
The first of a Champions Classic doubleheader on Tuesday between No. 3 Kansas and Michigan State wasn't even competitive late as the Jayhawks strutted their big beaks to a big 87-74 win. It was a coming-out party for KU guard Ochai Agbaji as he led the way with a career-high 29 points and was easily the best player on the floor. For Michigan State, it was a game of mistakes and missed opportunities as it committed 16 turnovers, of which KU converted for 16 points on the other end.
Villanova flashes dominance early
As 23-point favorites over Mount St. Mary's, No. 4 Villanova nearly doubled up that number in its 91-51 win to open the season. The Wildcats looked brilliant and deep in the outing, with junior Justin Moore pouring in 27 points and Jermaine Samuels, Brandon Slater and Collin Gillespie teaming up to add a combined 47 in a supporting performance. It was to be expected from a top-five team at home as a heavy favorite, but an eye-opening performance nonetheless. Jay Wright's got a stacked, experienced roster that demands your respect.
Trayce Jackson-Davis and IU avoid collapse
Indiana big man Trayce Jackson-Davis, Mr. Double-Double in the flesh, opened his season for the Hoosiers as only he could: with -- you guessed it -- a double-double and a dub. The junior tallied 21 points and 14 rebounds in a 68-62 win over Eastern Michigan to go with three steals, three blocks and one of the best sequences of the season:
It wasn't exactly a convincing way to usher in the Mike Woodson era -- IU led by as many as 21 points in the second half before EMU got within one point down the stretch -- but IU avoided a collapse and its star played like one.
"We're trying to learn how to win," Woodson said after the game. "I was happy we didn't crack down the stretch and we made winning basketball plays to secure the game."
Nebraska loses to Western Illinois on late 3-pointer
Western Illinois was just 12-36 over the last two seasons entering its season opener at Nebraska, but the Leathernecks pulled a stunner against their Big Ten foe. Luka Barisic hit a 3-pointer with seven seconds left to lift WIU to a 75-74 victory. Nebraska was a 17-point favorite, but it got outscored 42-30 in the paint. It's a good thing for Western Illinois that the game didn't go to overtime, because three of the Leathernecks' starters fouled out.
Georgia Tech falls to MAC foe
After losing its football season opener to Northern Illinois, Georgia Tech's basketball team opened the season by also losing to a MAC foe. The Yellow Jackets led Miami (Ohio) by seven with just six minutes left but ended up dropping a 72-69 thriller to the Redhawks, who closed on an 18-8 run. Adjusting to life without last season's stars Jose Alvarado and Moses Wright is going to be a challenge for Georgia Tech, and Tuesday showed how daunting that task will be. Michael Devoe shined with 26 points, but he missed five of his last six shots and didn't get nearly enough help.
Wichita State avoids shocker on shot from logo
Wichita State is expected to compete for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, and it would have been a shocker if the Shockers lost at home to Jacksonville State to open the season. They avoided that fate, thanks to this long-range missile from last year's AAC Co-Player of the Year Tyson Etienne to give WSU a 60-57 win. It was his first 3-pointer since the 14:07 mark of the first half, and it couldn't have come at a better time.