Tracking The Unbeatens: Virginia’s difficult schedule, and why were Kentucky’s platoons created?

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Devin Booker (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?: None

Kentucky (19-0): So that whole “Kentucky struggles at South Carolina” theme lasted for about the first half of the first half on Saturday. The Wildcats gave up just 43 points to the Gamecocks in a 15 point win that followed up a closer than expected victory over Vanderbilt at home.

The Wildcats have found themselves in the position that Coach Cal has been preparing for all season long: It is now painfully obvious that Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker are better individually — and as a back court pairing — than the Harrison twins. That’s not to say that Andrew and Aaron are bad or that they shouldn’t play, but facts are facts. Booker is shooting up NBA Draft boards by the day, getting slotted as a lottery pick by Draft Express in their latest mock. And while Ulis doesn’t have the same level of pro potential as Booker does, the things he does well — run offense, pressure defensive, hit open jumpers, create easy looks for his teammates — are exactly the things that: A) Kentucky needs their point guard to do, and B) that Andrew Harrison can struggle with.

Barring a losing streak, I doubt you’ll see a change to Kentucky’s platoon/rotation until, at the very earliest, the SEC tournament. But it’s something to keep an eye on while you think about this: Was this platoon concept really implemented because of how many quality big men are on the Kentucky roster?

  • Next Game: Jan. 29 at Missouri
  • First Loss?: Final Four?

Virginia (19-0): The Cavaliers did not exactly look impressive on the offensive end of the floor this week. They scored 57 points in a win over Georgia Tech and followed that up by mustering just 50 points in a win at Virginia Tech. But they will enter the toughest four-game stretch of their second without a blemish on their resume thanks to that smothering Pack-Line defense that they play: In those two wins, Tony Bennett’s club allowed a total of 75 points. The issues they had against Virginia Tech aside — UVA was down big in the second half and trailed by seven in the final minutes before rallying — that’s just an absurd number.

But the fun is over now. The next three games for Virginia are as tough of a three-game stretch as you’ll find in college hoops this season: They play Duke at home on Saturday, head to Chapel Hill to play North Carolina on Monday and then get Louisville at home the following Saturday. Oh, and when that’s done, they get to catch a break by playing at N.C. State, where Duke lost and where Notre Dame should have lost.

If the Cavs are still undefeated on February 12th, we can start talking about whether or not they will go undefeated this season.

  • Next Game: Jan. 31st vs. Duke
  • First Loss?: Jan. 31st vs. Duke