College Basketball: A Look at the Seven Undefeated Teams
Collge Basketball Unbeaten Teams
Last week Butler University stunned undefeated and number one ranked Indiana University. The win elevated Butler into the Top 25. The loss for Indiana marked another undefeated team to suffer their first loss before conference play. Undefeated Florida and Wichita State also lost. On the week, a total of three ranked undefeated teams lost, leaving seven teams with perfect record.
In the 2011-2012 college basketball season, small school Murray State was the last to lose. The team had a 23-0 record before losing to Tennessee State. The last team to take an undefeated record into the NCAA Tournament was St. Joseph's in the 2003-2004 season. St. Joseph's was 27-0 and got a number one seed for their great record.
All of these teams are ultimately trying to accomplish what hasn't been done since the 1975-1976 season. In the '75-'76 season, Indina University was perfect during the regular season and the NCAA Tournament to finish with an unblemished 32-0 record. The Hoosiers are the last team to accomplish this feat. Since the field expanded to 64 teams, no team has ever ended the tournament undefeated.
This slideshow serves as a preview for what's left for these teams throughout the 2012-2013 season. I have also offered my predictions of who will be the last man standing on the final slide.
Duke Blue Devils
Duke Blue Devils (9-0)
The loss to Indiana University lifted Duke to number one for the first time this season. The team has been stellar in the first half of the season, beating three top five ranked teams. Duke defeated Kentucky (No. 3), Louisville (No. 2) and Ohio State (No. 4). The team won the Battle 4 Atlantis pre-season tournament with key wins over Louisville and Minnesota, who is now ranked in the Top 25. Duke finishes out non-conference play with games against Cornell, Elon, Santa Clara, and Davidson. The team will start ACC league play on January 5th against a relatively weak conference. Two teams (North Carolina, NC State) from the ACC are currently ranked along with the Blue Devils.
Michigan Wolverines (11-0)
Michigan is playing the best basketball it has in years and is currently sitting in the second position on the Top 25. The team received three of 65 first place votes from the Associated Press. Michigan is paced by Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., who recently combined to scored 52 points against West Virginia. The team has four players that score in double digits. The team playes Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan, before beginning Big Ten play on January 3rd against Northwestern.
Syracuse Orange (9-0)
Syracuse is off to an impressive start, just like it was in the 2011-2012 season. The team just edged out Detroit University in a close 72-68 win. Syracuse now will playe Temple, Alcorn State and Central Connecticut State in what should be easy wins before conference play. Syracuse will have its work cut out in the Big East Conference, where Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Louisville and Georgetown are all currently ranked. Lucky for Syracuse, the team ranks fourth in points per game (83.4) and sixth in rebounds per game (44.5).
Arizona Wildcats (9-0)
Arizona got its biggest win of the season last week in a battle of unbeatens. Undefeated Arizona beat undefeated Florida in a 65-64 hard fought victory. The good news for Arizona is that should be the toughest game they have to play until the NCAA Tournament. The team now faces East Tennessee State before beinning Pac-12 Conference play. No other teams in the Pac-12 are ranked in the Top 25. Oregon (9-1), Arizona State (9-2) and Colorado (8-2) do all pose minor threats to undefeated Arizona.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois Fighting Illini (12-0)Illinois improved to a 12-0 record and still can't find themselves ranked below number 10. The team has slowly risen up the polls and continues to be a dark horse national championship team. The team will find out how good they are once they begin Big Ten league play. The team plays Michigan State and Indiana each once and plays Michigan, Ohio State and Minnesota each twice, giving Illinois quite the impressive schedule. Illinois will also face off against 12th ranked Missouri on December 22nd. Brandon Paul leads the team in points (18.8), assists (3.5), rebounds (5.1) and steals (1.5) per game.
Cincinnati Bearcats (10-0)
The Cincinnati Bearcats are off to a great start and rank sixth in the league in points per game with 83.0. The team also ranks first in NCAA with 46.1 rebounds per contest. The Bearcats have not beat a ranked opponent yet, which explains their low ranking. The Bearcats face off aginst fellow undefeated New Mexico on December 27th. The team then begins Big East Conference play and will play ranked Notre Dame twice, and other ranked teams once.
New Mexico Lobos
New Mexico (11-0)
The Lobos of New Mexico are off to a great start under coach Steve Alford. The team has moved up in the rankings to number 16. The team has two impressive wins against previously ranked Connecticut and also USC. The Lobos will face their toughest test when they play unbeaten Cincinnati on December 27th. The Mountain West Conference also features two other ranked teams in UNLV (No. 21) and San Diego State University (No. 18).
After reviewing the schedules for the remaining unbeaten teams, here is where I see each team suffering their first loss.
Illinois-December 22nd at Missouri. The Tigers rank 1st in rebounds, while Illinois is 138th in the country. Jabari Brown returned to the Tigers after sitting out as a transfer and appears to have sparked the 9-1 Tigers that could be heating up at just the right time.
New Mexico-December 27th vs. Cincinnati. The Bearcats should be able to beat New Mexico in this matchup between two unbeaten teams.
Cincinnati-January 7th to Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish is improving and has been dominant inside in recent games. This could give the Bearcats trouble.
Arizona-January 10th at Oregon. If the Wildcats can beat Oregon in this game then watch out. The Wildcats could actually have the best shot at going undefeated. They only play Oregon one time during conference play and it is a weak conference otherwise.
Syracuse-January 19th at Louisville. The Cardinals are a tough team that deserve their top ten ranking. Syracuse has to lose at some point and they will probably suffer multiple losses in a strong Big East schedule. This away matchup could be the first of several.
Michigan-January 27th at Illinois. If Michigan and Illinois can both make it to this point, it would mark another matchup of two unbeaten teams during the 2012-2013 season. Michigan is a great team and capable of making the Final Four. However, with a strong Big Ten schedule they will not finish with a perfect season.
Duke-March 9th at North Carolina. It's tough to pick Duke to lose at all this year if you have watched them play. The team has truly looked like the best team in the country in its three big wins aginst top five teams. The ACC appears to be weak, but I could see North Carolina splitting the huge rivalry series with the Blue Devils.