Back and Forth: Eight Memorable Exhibition Upsets

Posted by Judson Harten on November 4th, 2014

Each week, RTC columnist Judson Harten will profile some of the week’s biggest upcoming games by taking a look back at some relevant history relating to the match-ups. This is Back And Forth.

Exhibitions are a tease, really. College basketball fans wait with great anticipation for the first practices of the season, sure, but what they really want are games. Live game action… that’s what counts. Exhibitions don’t really provide the same juice. But as we wait for games that count to get started, two things are almost certain:

  1. Your team is “coming along well” this season, per every team’s coach.
  2. Exhibition games are all we have to go on until the season actually tips off in about 10 days.
Even the great Jim Boeheim isn't immune to the curious upset from time-to-time. (Getty)

Even the great Jim Boeheim isn’t immune to the curious upset from time to time. (Getty)

Most of the time, the games aren’t even close. The completely outmatched D-II/D-III/NAIA team that took the big paycheck to come get its whoopin’ is just a preseason sacrificial lamb for most of the elite programs. Sometimes the games are a bit closer than anticipated because it obvious that the coaching staff wants to test some new wrinkles in their game plan — strategies, lineups, etc. Rarely do these teams suffer losses, but they do pop up from time to time. This week Back And Forth takes a look at some of the few exhibition upsets in recent years, and what, if anything, they meant for the season ahead.

1. November 3, 2009: LeMoyne 82, #25 Syracuse 79

THE SKINNY: When I set out to find some of the better exhibition upsets of recent years, this was the first one that I found in the search engines and websites I checked. Christopher Johnson’s three-pointer with 8.3 seconds left pushed the Division II Dolphins past the Orange. A newly-eligible Wes Johnson – in his lone season playing for coach Jim Boeheim – finished with a game-high 34 points in the loss. Read the rest of this entry »

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Le Moyne Goes Into Carrier Dome, Gives Orange Le Boot

Posted by jstevrtc on November 3rd, 2009

Little Division II Le Moyne College got invited to the Carrier Dome for an exhibition game against the 25th-ranked Syracuse Orange earlier tonight, and most people probably figured this would be one of those common situations where the allegedly inferior little school walks out at the end of the night with some game experience against some top-quality players, a 50-point loss, and a nice big check.

Guess again…on that second part.



Despite being down as many as ten points in the second half, Le Moyne came back to stun the Orange this evening, 82-79, in a preseason exhibition.  Le Moyne’s Christopher Johnson drilled a three with 8.3 seconds left to give the Dolphins a 2-point lead, and they tacked on a free throw later.  Syracuse’s Wes Johnson had 34 for the Orange.

So let’s give Le Moyne — and no, it’s not the capital of Iowa — some props:  Le Moyne College is a Jesuit school located in DeWitt, NY, a suburb of Syracuse.  Including both post- and undergraduates, it has about 3500 students.  It is named after Simon Le Moyne, a Canadian priest and missionary from the 1600s.  More information available in the place where I’m not afraid to admit I got the above tidbits — the school’s WikiPedia page.

It is most definitely a great night for the Le Moyne players, one that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.  This is a team that played in front of 5,889 people in their home gym last year…meaning for the whole year. That’s an average of 393 fans every home game.  The attendance for tonight’s exhibition was not listed on either team’s box score, but over 16,000 people attended last year’s game, also in the Carrier Dome.  Have fun with this, fellas.

Now, it’s true that this really doesn’t mean that much in terms of Syracuse’s season, and these things do indeed happen sometimes.  Michigan State’s loss to Grand Valley State to start the 2007-08 season comes to mind, but MSU went on to the Sweet 16 that year and then the national final the next season (last year).  We doubt Jim Boeheim will take it as lightly, though — and we predict that the Orange players will have a nice long date with their running shoes tomorrow.

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