The pursuit of the rare perfect season in college basketball
Only eight teams in the history of NCAA Division College Basketball during the postseason era (since 1938) have went undefeated during the regular season and went on the win the National Title:
LIU Blackbirds (24-0 in 1939)
San Francisco Dons (29-0 in 1956)
North Carolina Tar Heels (32-0 in 1957)
UCLA Bruins (30-0 in 1964, 1967, 1972 and 1973)
Indiana Hoosiers (32-0 in 1976)
Sixteen other teams have went undefeated during the regular season, but either fell in the conference tournament, NCAA Tournament or were ineligible for postseason play. The last to do so was St. Joseph’s in 2004 who finished the regular season 27-0 and lost in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
As we embark on conference play in the 2013-14 season, it’s safe to say that it’s very rare to post the perfect season.
Here at 27inarow, we thought it would be a great idea to examine the seven remaining undefeated teams and therir chances at pulling off an undefeated season or where they might lose. We’ve put them in order from least to most likely to finish the season undefeated.
7.) Iowa State (12-0) – For those who followed Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones last year, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this team has jumped out to a fast start this season. This same team took Ohio State down to the wire in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year after going 23-12 on the season. However, they may be shocking the world right now, but there’s no way they beat Kansas twice in January.
Most likely first loss – Monday, January 13th (Kansas at home)
6.) Oregon (12-0) – The Ducks are one of the luckiest undefeated teams as they’ve survived two overtime games so far this season, a 115-105 victory at Mississippi and a 100-96 win over BYU at home. They were far from dominant in the Pac-12 last year with six losses, so it’s completely possible they lose fairly soon in their conference schedule.
Most likely first loss – Sunday, January 5th (at Colorado)
5.) Wisconsin Badgers (13-0) – Bo Ryan lost pretty much all of his front-court, yet comes out firing this season with quite possibly the nation’s best slate of wins. The Badgers have home wins over Florida and Marquette and a true road win at Virginia. They also have a superstar in sophomore forward Sam Dekker who makes this team really dangerous heading into Big 10 play. Their biggest concern has to be their youth as the pressure builds up from trying to complete an undefeated season.
Most likely first loss – Wednesday, January 22nd (at Minnesota)
4.) Syracuse (12-0) – The Orange passed their first big test this past weekend when they handed Villanova their first loss of the season. Head Coach Jim Boeheim has the players and system to go undefeated, but probably not in his first season in the ACC. There’s just too many good coaches and teams in the nation’s premier basketball conference to last the year unscathed.
Most likely first loss – Wednesday, February 13th (at Pittsburgh)
3.) Ohio State (13-0) – I’ll probably catch some heat for having the Buckeyes so high on this list because they’ve yet to beat a top-50 team this season. That doesn’t mean they can’t do it though as they boast some of the most experienced players in the country. It feels like point guard Aaron Craft has been playing in Columbus forever. The Buckeyes biggest barrier will be overcoming road tilts versus the Big Ten’s best in Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Most likely first loss – Tuesday, January 7th (at Michigan State)
2.) Arizona (13-0) – Aaron Gordon is the best freshman no one is talking about and the Wildcats have the best chance to finish the regular season undefeated of the teams in a major conference. They already have impressive wins at San Diego State, at Michigan and a great win versus Duke on a neutral court. The Pac-12 doesn’t have any other top-tier teams and Sean Miller is a great basketball coach, so Arizona has a good chance to go the distance.
Most likely first loss – Undefeated
1.) Wichita State (13-0) – Gregg Marshall’s Shockers made it all the way to the Final Four last year and there’s a good chance they could do it again as they are the team with the most likely chance to finish the season undefeated and grab a great seed in the NCAA Tournament. They don’t play a top-50 team for the rest of the season and Cleanthony Early has been on fire this season. The Missouri Valley Conference is just too easy this season.
Most likely first loss – Undefeated
So there you have it, two teams will go undefeated for the 2013-14 season. Whether they can go through their conference tournaments and the expanded NCAA Tournament to join those famous eight teams on their way to an undefeated NCAA Championship is an article for a future time.
Do you think the Wildcats and Shockers are the most likely teams to go undefeated or do you like any of the others to do so? Please let me know by commenting below.
Images obtained from sportsillustrated.cnn.com