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Ranking a historic night of CBB upsets, from most to least concerning

Michigan State's Kamaria McDaniel drives on Indiana's Lexus Bargesser and Mackenzie Holmes in the Spartans' upset win Thursday. (Matthew Dae Smith/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Three top-10 teams tumbled Thursday in a historic night for upsets in women’s college basketball.

No. 4 Indiana, No. 6 NC State and No. 7 Virginia Tech all lost to unranked opponents, tied for the most such upsets in one day since at least 1999, per ESPN. Top-10 teams have lost 22 games so far this season, tied for the most at this point in a season since at least 1999.

While Thursday’s losses signal increasing parity in the sport, they also provide reasons for concern for the ranked teams involved. Just Women’s Sports ranks the three top-10 upsets from most to least concerning.

Clemson 64, No. 7 Virginia Tech 59

With the upset loss to the Tigers (10-4), the Hokies (11-2) have lost two of their last three games heading into 2023. Their first loss of the season came against No. 5 Notre Dame, which eked out a 66-63 win Thursday against unranked Miami. Clemson, meanwhile, did not receive any votes in the latest AP Top 25 poll.

Virginia Tech is still without Ashley Owusu, who broke her pinkie finger on Dec. 1, but the team’s problems ran deeper Thursday.

Star center Elizabeth Kitley, who averages 18.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, was held without a rebound in the first half. The Tigers entered halftime with a double-digit lead and withstood a second-half comeback attempt from the Hokies.

After the game, Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks called on Kitley to play like the high-profile player she is. The senior, projected as a No. 2 draft pick in our 2023 WNBA mock draft, took just seven shots in the game.

“We just didn’t play well at all,” he said.

Michigan State 83, No. 4 Indiana 78

Turnovers sunk the Hoosiers (12-1) in their first loss of the season, which leaves just five unbeaten teams in Division I.

“They had 28 points off our turnovers,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “That’s the storyline right there.”

While Indiana did give up a season-high 21 turnovers, one sloppy game should not ring too many alarm bells, particularly when it comes against Michigan State (9-5), which had forced 29.3 turnovers per game entering Thursday.

Still, the Hoosiers will need to learn to handle defensive pressure, as the Spartans disrupted the flow of Indiana’s offense throughout the game.

Senior forward Mackenzie Holmes scored a career-high 32 points, but Indiana went 3-for-12 from 3-point range. The team is still missing senior point guard Grace Berger, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since late November.

Duke 72, No. 6 NC State 58

This in-state rivalry contest looked more like a coming-out party for Duke (12-1) than a crushing loss for NC State (11-2).

The Blue Devils led for 29 minutes, including the entire second half. They already received points in the most recent AP poll, and this win could be enough to put them in the rankings come Monday.

“We just stayed focused and locked in and didn’t allow the emotions of the game to overtake our execution,” Duke coach Kara Lawson said. “That’s big growth for us. We haven’t been in a lot of close games yet this year, so you never really know how your team is going to react in close-game situation or really important possessions in the fourth quarter. So I’m pleased with how we executed there.”

NC State shot just 34.4 percent from the field, and while they won the rebound battle 36-33, they finished with just five assists. Their offense is still adjusting to the absence of Diamond Johnson, who injured her ankle on Dec. 11.