Will anyone stay unbeaten?
December 25, 2018 3:00 AM
by Ramon Scott
The tweets come frequently at first, then somewhat less occasionally, before slowing to a once-every-few-days trickle.
The end of that miracle undefeated dream season isn’t official until after college basketball analytics expert Ken Pomeroy sends out his social media sayonara to another one of the ranks of the previously unbeaten.
On Saturday, it was Kansas’ stunning send-off at the hands of Arizona State that got the same, simple, straightforward Twitter treatment from KenPom.
“Unbeaten teams remaining: 5 (Sorry, Kansas)” - @KenPomeroy tweeted following the Sun Devils’ shocking win over the Jayhawks for the second year in-a-row (ASU won at Allen Fieldhouse last season).
We know that finishing an entire college basketball season undefeated is a huge rarity even with today’s perennial superpowers. But holding on to that zero in the loss column for as long as possible brings more attention to those budding programs rather than a power conference team that may have paid their way to an undefeated start against those money-hungry teams.
As for the case of the current quintuplet of perfect squads, Virginia and Michigan aren’t necessarily in the current line of elite programs. But their proximity to the top of the polls is regular enough that their perfect starts might not necessarily come as a complete surprise, especially given the way the two teams execute defensively.
But the other three unbeatens, including the 12-0 Nevada Wolf Pack, can stand up and take a bow as the new year approaches. The Houston Cougars and St. John’s Red Storm, also both 12-0, are the other teams with unblemished records coming into the week.
All five teams will face some stiff challenges – particularly on the road – in their respective leagues, but only the Wolf Pack would appear to be favored in every game remaining on their regular season schedule, based on consensus power rankings.
And while the mild Mountain West has its own difficulties facing road teams making a flat effort somewhere more than likely, Nevada will be expected to sweep the board until somewhere deep into the NCAA Tournament. Heck, they’ve already beaten that new world-beater, Arizona State.
Nevada at Utah: Nevada will come close to a double-digit favorite in Salt Lake City with the total around 146. While many will focus on the Pack’s run, consider how they’ve performed. In particular, their 8-2 mark to the Under. UNDER
Kentucky at Louisville (150): What used to be cause for a state holiday now leaves bluegrass fans feeling a need for a basketball purgatory after these teams get together. The ‘Cats are currently hanging out in the bottom of the top 20, while Louisville’s losses are to Tennessee, Marquette and Indiana. Tight score keeps it low. UNDER
Butler at Florida (127): This game will be as slow as it sounds as the teams meet for the second time this season. It should come as no surprise as the their earlier meeting went for just 115 points in a 61-54 Bulldogs win in the Bahamas. UNDER
St. John’s (+3.5) at Seton Hall: The Johnnies’ run has been nothing special as they’ve hardly budged up most power ranking charts. The Pirates’ home court edge is expected to be enough here. SETON HALL
Last week: 2-1