Less than two weeks into what has already been a wild 2015-16 college basketball season, the sport is about to get a new No. 1 team.
North Carolina, the top-ranked team in the country according to both the coaches' poll and the Associated Press Top 25, suffered a stunning 71-67 loss at Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls on Saturday. The loss marked the Tar Heels' 31st all-time when ranked No. 1, just one fewer than the record held by arch-rival Duke.
Northern Iowa, which won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament last season but lost All-American Seth Tuttle to graduation, had four players score in double figures, led by Wes Washpun's 21 points. Matt Bohannon, who chipped in 19 points of his own, hit a 3-pointer to put UNI up 66-63 with under three minutes remaining. The Panthers would not relinquish that lead, surviving a potential game-tying trey from Josh Perry with 15 seconds to play.
Playing without star guard Marcus Paige (injured hand), UNC still appeared to be in control of the game early in the second half. The Tar Heels used the strong inside play of Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks to extend a 41-32 halftime advantage to 50-34. That lead then evaporated thanks to a 20-4 Northern Iowa run in which UNC appeared to be without a go-to player.
The upset moved Northern Iowa (2-1), which shocked No. 1 overall seed Kansas in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, to 2-0 all-time against No. 1 ranked teams. It was the first time since 1979 that a team from the Missouri Valley had a hosted the top-ranked squad in the country.