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Vitale: Upsets galore (UCLA is latest victim)

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3-pointer key factor in many early upsets

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Nov. 21
It has been Shock City early this season! We have seen upset after upset, almost on a nightly basis -- and there's a common denominator in many of them: the 3-point shot.

Both Davidson and Hampton went into the Dean Smith Center and shocked North Carolina. The Tar Heels made just 12-of-54 threes in the two home losses (6-of-34 vs. Hampton). Tell me all you want about the Tar Heels missing Joseph Forte, but these were major, major upsets.

Get ready for a wild, topsy-turvy season. Just one or two players can make the difference from behind that 3-point line.
Kentucky was stunned at Rupp Arena by Western Kentucky. Ask coach Tubby Smith about the trifecta in the loss to the Hilltoppers; the Wildcats made just 2-of-18!

One upset that didn't get much attention was Big Ten member Penn State being shocked by Yale. That snapped the Nittany Lions' 54-game nonconference home winning streak.

The Elis winning on the road? That's a big deal, baby! Yale hit 12-of-20 from 3-point range. If you can shoot 60 percent of your trifectas, you have a great chance to get to the winner's circle.

Ball State shocked Kansas and then UCLA in Maui. You don't have to be a mathematical genius to realize what a significant role the 3 plays when Ball State hits 13 and Kansas makes only three. That was a huge factor as coach Tim Buckley's squad from Muncie, Ind., scored the big-time surprise. Ball State alum David Letterman must have been smiling.

Penn knocked off Georgia Tech, hitting almost 50 percent of its trifectas (13-of-27) while Georgia Tech made 33 percent (8-of-24). It's obvious that five more 3-pointers is a difference when the final margin is five points!

You have to be able to convert the perimeter shot. I've said many times, the 3-pointer is the great equalizer, changing the complexion of the game. It can change momentum, create an emotional lift and allow a trailing team the opportunity to battle back when struggling.

If you don't convert the 3 and the other club gets on fire, it can be lights out. That's the beauty of the college game. We will see lots of upsets, and just one or two players can make the difference from behind that 3-point line.

Get ready for a wild, topsy-turvy season. There will be many surprises; then again, there is balance and parity in the sport. The competition is getting closer and closer.

Another factor is the change in scholarship limits. Cutting down to 13 from 15 has allowed more balance. High-powered schools are seeing stars leave early, depleting their dominant forces. That leads to more excitement in the game of basketball.

Every day, I check out the results and look for the latest shock. Then you say, oh well, that's just college basketball. You have to hit the 3 to win.

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