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This week in the ACC: For Notre Dame and others, it was a week of upset losses

Notre Dame had the highest profile loss over the weekend, but Miami, Syracuse and North Carolina experienced upset losses as well.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Miami-Florida at Notre Dame
Miami center Emese Hof scored 25 points in the Hurricanes’ 74-63 loss to Purdue in the ACC-Big Ten Women’s Challenge last week.
Photo by Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest game in the ACC last week was Sunday, when then-No. 1 Notre Dame hosted AAC power and then-No. 2 UConn in a highly anticipated matchup. Ultimately, the Fighting Irish were blown out by the Huskies when UConn freshman Christyn Williams scored 28 points to lead UConn to a dominating 89-71 victory. For the Irish, Jackie Young scored 18 points while Arike Ogunbowale added 17.

Notre Dame’s loss to UConn was the highest profile game in the nation, but it was not the only key matchup in the ACC last week. Here’s our weekly recap.

The ACC edges the Big Ten in the Women’s Challenge, 8-6

Last week, the ACC and its 14 schools won the ACC-Big Ten Women’s Challenge for the third year in a row. In fact, the ACC has never lost the challenge to the Big Ten in the 12 years the challenge has been held. Though the ACC won more games than the Big Ten, the conference went 8-6, thanks to some key upsets by Big Ten teams over ranked ACC teams.

First, Purdue upset then No. 21 Miami, 74-63, at home on Nov. 29. The Boilermakers started strong and made a strong push at the end to earn a key victory. Dominique Oden scored a career-high 27 points to lead Purdue to their big win. For Miami, Emese Hof led the Hurricanes with 25 points and 4 blocks.

No. 20 Minnesota also scored a key 72-68 victory over No. 12 Syracuse on the same day. The Golden Gophers raced to a quick 23-14 lead in the first quarter and held on the rest of the way. Taiye Bello scored 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds while Kenisha Bell added 24 more points to give Minnesota the win. Kiara Lewis led Syracuse with 14 points in the loss.

Notre Dame wasn’t the only team to get upset on Sunday

There is no doubt that the Notre Dame-UConn game was the biggest on Sunday, but there were still some other upsets in non-conference season play that same day.

The North Carolina Tar Heels lost to the Maine Black Bears, 85-73. Poor second- and third-quarter showings by UNC were too much to overcome. Janelle Bailey led UNC with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Blanca Millan led Maine with 21 points of her own. But there is an argument to be made that North Carolina’s loss to Maine isn’t that bad.

Last year, Maine was 23-10 and went 13-3 in the Atlantic 10, and the Black Bears lost to then-No. 20 Duke, 66-63, on Nov. 15. But North Carolina cannot afford to lose games to mid- major teams considering they are trying to return to the postseason after a three-year absence from the NCAA and WNIT tournaments.

Losses aside, the ACC did get an upset win over a non-conference opponent as well. Wake Forest defeated St. John’s, 64-59. For Wake Forest, Alex Sharp led the Demon Deacons with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Tiana England led St. John’s with 16 points and 9 assists in that team’s loss.

Games of the week

Here are two ACC games to check out this weekend:

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Radford Highlanders

When: Saturday, Dec. 8, at 1 p.m. ET

Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va. | TICKETS

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Notes: The Cavaliers are just 3-5 after a rough start to their 2018-19 season. Before their 55-41 win over Coppin State on Sunday, they had lost three straight. It is still a little early to say whether Virginia is due for a down season, but major conference teams generally don’t start the conference season with sub-.500 records. It appears that the Cavaliers are just not going to be as strong as they were last season.

Meanwhile, the Radford Highlanders are playing a tougher stretch of their schedule. They will come into this game after playing the Virginia Tech Hokies tonight, and following recent losses to then-No. 17 NC State on Nov. 18 and Nebraska on Nov. 25. Radford was 24-9 last season so they will have a chance to contend for the Big South Conference title if they can at least keep Virginia on their toes.

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

When: Sunday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m. ET

Where: Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pa. | TICKETS

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Notes: The two former Big East Conference rivals face off in a weekend match. The Mountaineers are 4-2 with their only losses coming against No. 12 Iowa on Nov. 23 and now- No. 23 Missouri on Dec. 2. Pittsburgh fell to a 2-4 record early in the season, but have won three straight games, including a 52-49 win over Northwestern on Thursday Nov. 29.

Full schedule for the ACC.