Tracking The Unbeatens: There are now just nine teams without a loss

3 Comments
source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Every Monday from now until every team in the country has a loss on their resume, we will be Tracking The Unbeatens, and predicting when, exactly, that unbeaten streak will end. You can follow along here.

Who lost last week?: Incarnate Word (at UTEP), Seton Hall (at Wichita State) and Northern Iowa (at VCU)

Kentucky (11-0): Kentucky is the best team in the country right now, although it will be interesting to see what happens with Alex Poythress out for the year with a torn ACL. My guess: Kentucky gets tougher to beat. They’ll take a bit of a hit on the defensive end of the floor, but getting more minutes for more offensive-minded players like Trey Lyles, Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison will help this group. If they’re going to lose this season, it might come in their next two games: UCLA in Chicago and Louisville on the road.

  • Next Game: Dec. 20 vs. UCLA (Chicago)
  • First Loss?: Dec. 27 at Louisville

Duke (8-0): The Blue Devils didn’t play this week, but they did lose Semi Ojeleye to a transfer. Regardless, they look like the clear-cut, second-best team in the country right now.

  • Next Game: Dec. 15 vs. Elon
  • First Loss?: Jan. 17 at Louisville

Arizona (10-0): Stanley Johnson looked the part of an all-american on Saturday during Arizona’s depantsing of Michigan in Tucson. Perimeter shooting is still an issue, but if you can’t match their size inside, you’re going to take a beating in the paint.

  • Next Game: Dec. 16 vs. Oakland
  • First Loss?: Jan. 22 at Stanford

Virginia (9-0): Virginia got through their toughest week of the non-conference by knocking off Maryland and VCU on the road. They didn’t play last week during finals.

  • Next Game: Dec. 18 vs. Cleveland State
  • First Loss?: Jan. 3 at Miami

Louisville (9-0): The Cardinals have now beaten Ohio State and Indiana in the last two weeks, meaning that they’ve passed their first two real tests of the season. They get a road date with a Western Kentucky team that just beat Ole Miss, but as long as they’re not looking forward to Kentucky, we should have both the Cards and the Cats undefeated on the 27th. Buckle up.

  • Next Game: Dec. 14 at Western Kentucky
  • First Loss?: Dec. 27 vs. Kentucky

Villanova (10-0): The Wildcats have looked quite impressive early on this season, but when you look at who they’ve beaten — Illinois, Michigan and VCU — it doesn’t look as good as it did at the time. This group is the best in the Big East, but the league looks tougher by the day.

  • Next Game: Dec. 20 vs. Syracuse
  • First Loss?: Jan. 19 at Georgetown

Washington (8-0): The Huskies have wins over UTEP and at home against San Diego State, which are both good wins but not necessarily the kind of performance that will make you believe that this group can contend in the Pac-12. Robert Upshaw is a game-changer defensively, Nigel Williams-Goss is criminally underrated and their four-point win over Eastern Washington on Sunday is a lot more impressive than it sounds.

  • Next Game: Dec. 17 vs. Grambling
  • First Loss?: Dec. 20 vs. Oklahoma (In Las Vegas)

Colorado State (10-0): The Rams did it. They knocked off Colorado at Colorado, meaning that not only are they probably the best team in the state, they may just be the best team in the Mountain West. Road games have been this team’s kryptonite in recent season, and hopefully that Colorado game is an indication they’ve fixed that.

  • Next Game: Dec. 19 at Denver
  • First Loss?: Jan. 3 at New Mexico

TCU (10-0): The Horned Frogs made a statement when they went into Oxford and knocked off Ole Miss. Then Western Kentucky did the same thing. They shouldn’t be tested until Big 12 play.

  • Next Game: Dec. 20 vs. UT San Antonio
  • First Loss?: Jan. 7 at Kansas State

There five potential meetings between undefeated teams the rest of the season, although it seems unlikely that we will get more than one.

  • Kentucky at Louisville, December 27
  • Duke at Louisville, January 17
  • Duke at Virginia, January 31
  • Louisville at Virginia, February 7
  • Arizona at Washington, February 13

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
7 Comments

LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

Getty Images
4 Comments

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.