Purdue and Houston’s losses are not a death knell

Last night was a seismic – and historically unprecedented – night for the men’s college basketball rankings. The No. 1 ranked Purdue Boilermakers and the No. 2 Houston Cougars dropped their first games of the season, both to unranked opponents.

For Nebraska, the 88-72 victory over Purdue is the school’s first win over a No. 1 team in 41 years. The Cornhuskers haven’t beaten a top-ranked team on their home court since a 74-73 win over Michigan in 1962.

Houston’s 57-53 loss to the Iowa State Cyclones eliminates the final undefeated team in college basketball. This ensures that Bob Knight and the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers remain the last undefeated team in men’s college basketball.

The top two teams falling isn’t all that rare an occurrence for men’s college basketball. It was the first time since Feb. 26, 2022, that both a No. 1 and No. 2 team lost on the same day in the regular season. The double upset has happened eight times since the 2009-2010 season.

The fashion Purdue and Houston lost, however, is a lot more rare. A No. 1 and No. 2 have squared off against unranked opponents on the same day 648 times in AP poll history. This was just the eighth time both teams lost that matchup; just the third time in the last 40 years, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

The stars haven’t aligned like this since Feb. 6, 2016. On that day, Buddy Hield-led, No. 1 ranked Oklahoma dropped a game to Kansas State, while No. 2 UNC lost to Notre Dame. Before that, we have to go back a decade. On Jan. 21, 2006, top-ranked Duke fell to Georgetown despite a then-career-high 41 points from J.J. Redick, and the loaded No. 2 Florida Gators – featuring Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Corey Brewer – lost to Tennessee.

All is not lost for Houston and Purdue, though. A loss this historically unprecedented correlates to some positive end-of-season results. In 2016, both Oklahoma and North Carolina made the Final Four, with UNC eventually losing in the championship to Villanova. While Duke was knocked out in the Sweet 16 in 2006, Florida went on to win the national championship outright.

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