De Paul. Oregon State. Louisville. Kentucky. Ucla. Glamor names in college basketball. All losers in their first NCAA tournament games. All spectators as the round of 16 begins Thursday.

St. Joseph's Alabama-Birmingham. Brigham Young. Boston College. Witchita State. All still alive. All upset winners over the weekend.

What's happening to the power structure of college basketball? How can the top-ranked team in the country lose to a 2,200-student Jesuit school? How can the mighty Pacific-10 with the likes of Oregon State, Arizona State and UCLA in the tournament, be 0-3 and finished for the season?

The upsets did not just happen. There was nothing sudden or flukish about them. In the past 10 years, college basketball has changed in such a way that six or eight teams cannot dominate the way they once did.

It should be remembered that 20 different teams have played in the last five final fours and no team has made the final four in consecutive seasons since UCLA made it in 1976 after winning the national title in 1975. That trend will continue this year. All of last year's final four teams have been eliminated.

"A lot of it has to do with money," said John Wooden, the man who dominated the game at UCLA until retiring in 1975. "Because schools realize there is a great deal of money to be made from college basketball, more and more of them are spending money to build programs. More money means more good teams. That means more upsets."

With the rise in the sport's popularity and the rise in television revenues, more school are going all out to field top teams. They are spending money to make money. And more and more top players are being recruited by schools closer to their homes.

When Steve Stipanovich, who grew up in St. Louis, visited the University of Missouri, he was greeted by the governor of the state. When Eugene Banks opted for Duke over Villanova, the Philadelphia papers labeled him a deserter.

"Ten or 12 years ago there were a few schools that got most of the players," said Old Dominion Coach Paul Webb, whose team beat De Paul in Chicago this season. "Now, there's more talent and it's more spread out. Kids are going where they can play right away."

Play right away has been a key phrase in recruiting since 1972, when the NCA voted to make freshmen elilgible to play. Unlike football, where only the true superstar can expect to get varsity playing time as a freshman, basketball players frequently start -- and dazzle -- immediately.

That also makes it more difficult for teams to stockpile high school superstars. A player looking at a team with a set starting lineup -- like Maryland a year ago -- probably will opt for a school where there are starting spots available.

So why are top 20 regular-season teams stumbling in tournament play?

"Because there isn't as much awe involved in playing a top 10 team anymore," said American Coach Gary Williams, who turned a 13-14 team into a 24-6 team in one year. "When our kids played at Old Dominion, they were undefeated. But we just thought we could wlin and we did.

"I think because there is less of a gap between the best teams and the next best teams, the underdog has a much better chance to pull off the upset."

"I think people just have it in their minds that the top 10 teams shouldn't lose," said Duke Coach Mike Drzyzewski, who beat two top 10 teams this season. "In the tournament, the only teams that even notice the rankings are the ones in the top 10 and that's usually because they feel the pressure to prove their rankings. For the underdog, everything they do is right. They play loose. Sometimes, like with with De Paul Saturday, the big team isn't prepared for a tough game. When it gets tough, they aren't prepared and they don't react."

Jim Lynam, who coached his St. Joseph's team past De Paul in the most stunning weekend upset, thinks there is a tendency for the big-name teams to come in a bit overconfident.

"People forget that big connotes a lot of things, big-money guarantees which produce a lot of home games, for example," Lynam said. "I think it helped us in the tournament that we had played at North Carolina, at Maryland, at Michigan State. We knew what we had to do to win in that situation. We had dealt with the pressure before."

"Exactly," said Notre Dame's Digger Phelps. "That's why we're trying to schedule as many tough roads games as we can get. If you're going to do well in the tournament you have to have experienced the tough games during the regular season. If you go in cold, you get beat.

"There isn't any way you can just look at the top 10 as contenders going into the tournament anymore anyway. There's 40 or 50 very good teams in this country. I think the best way to win might be to go in seeded between 15 or 30 where you don't have so much pressure and such high expectations."

As for the explanation raised by some this weekend that having a first-round bye is a disadvantage. Most coaches don't buy it, especially Wooden.

"Coaches are great for rationalizing losses," Wooden said. "To say you lost because of a bye is the lamest of lame excuses. There isn't a coach in the tournament with a bye who would trade with a team that had to play a first-round game. Naturally, the winning coach in that situation is going to be gracious and say the bye might have hurt the other team but it just isn't true. A bye is an advantage, period."

Perhaps, but it certainly didn't help the eight who lost this weekend after sitting out the first round. By now though, upsets should not be that big a surprise.

"All it proves is what I've said all along," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson. "The top 10 and the top 20 doesn't mean a thing and it doesn't prove a thing. The tournament proves who has the team, not the rankings or press clippings."