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Tracking Undefeateds: When will each team lose?

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Thanks to Buffalo’s win at Syracuse on Tuesday night, there are still nine college basketball teams in America that are still undefeated as of today. 

By the end of the week, that number will likely be down to six. By the end of the year, I would be shocked if there were more than five unbeatens remaining. And if we get through January with more than one team with an unblemished record, it will be quite the feat. 

Here is a look at each of those nine teams and a prediction on when they will lose their first game, starting with something that will happen on Thursday night. 

No. 12 TEXAS TECH

RECORD: 10-0
NEXT GAME: 12/20 vs. No. 2 Duke (Madison Square Garden)
CHANCE TO GO UNBEATEN*: 0.01%
FIRST LOSS?: 12/20 vs. No. 2 Duke (Madison Square Garden)

*Data via KenPom.com

I’m all in on the Red Raiders this season. They have been the nation’s best defensive team this season, Chris Beard is a star in the making and Jarrett Culver is going to be a lottery pick when it is all said and done. The addition of Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney has been underrated nationally. They are, for my money, the second-best team in the Big 12 and the only team with a real chance at unseating Kansas from the top run of the conference.

And they play Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium’s New York wing — Madison Square Garden — on Thursday night.

Heading into league play with one loss is still impressive …

Jarrett Culver (Elsa/Getty Images)

No. 14 BUFFALO

RECORD: 11-0
NEXT GAME: 12/21 at No. 20 Marquette
CHANCE TO GO UNBEATEN*: 1.4%
FIRST LOSS?: 12/21 at No. 20 Marquette

Buffalo has the second-best chance to go undefeated this season, according to KenPom, at 1.4% because they play in a league that only has one other team that is ranked higher than 99th, according to KenPom. The Bulls also get an added bonus of only playing Ball State once; at home, to boot. They’ll have a puncher’s chance of getting this thing done if they can get past Marquette on the road on Friday night, and I don’t think they will. As impressive as wins at West Virginia and Syracuse are, and as good as the win over San Francisco on a neutral court is going to look in March, the truth is that Marquette is the best team Buffalo will play this year.

West Virginia isn’t the West Virginia we’ve come to know and love. Syracuse is now 7-4 on the season. Marquette might be the best team in the Big East, and I think they’ll get the job done.

No. 24 FURMAN

RECORD: 12-0
NEXT GAME: 12/21 at LSU
CHANCE TO GO UNBEATEN*: 0.02%
FIRST LOSS?: 12/21 at LSU

Furman has road wins over half of last year’s Final Four. They beat Loyola in the first week of the season and they won at Villanova a week later. Those are nice wins! Their other 10 games this season have come against seven teams ranked outside the top 180 on KenPom and three teams that aren’t Division I programs. It’s been a fun run for the Paladins. They’re not getting out of Baton Rouge unscathed.

ST. JOHN’S

RECORD: 10-0
NEXT GAME: 12/19 vs. St. Francis (NY)
CHANCE TO GO UNBEATEN*: 0.00%
FIRST LOSS?: 12/29 at Seton Hall

The Johnnies are undefeated this season. Their best wins? A 5-4 Georgia Tech teams and a 7-4 VCU team. Or maybe it was the win at 5-5 Rutgers? Or a neutral court win over 4-5 Cal? Or maybe it’s a win over a Princeton team that was leading Duke midway through the first half before losing by 51 points?

The Johnnies haven’t beaten anyone worthwhile, and the wins they do have against those mediocre teams weren’t very impressive. I can’t seen them winning in the Prudential Center against a team that Kentucky couldn’t beat.

(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

No. 1 KANSAS

RECORD: 10-0
NEXT GAME: 12/22 at No. 18 Arizona State
CHANCE TO GO UNBEATEN*: 0.1%
FIRST LOSS?: 1/5 at Iowa State

The Jayhawks have had one of the weirdest starts to a season that I can remember. They have lost their starting center to an ankle injury and their backup center to an NCAA investigation. They are left with essentially a two-man offense and, until Tuesday’s win over South Dakota, had yet to put together a truly dominant performance for 40 minutes. And yet, six weeks into the season, they are undefeated and have the best resume of any team in college hoops. If they win the Big 12 regular season title — they’re going to, we all know this — the Jayhawks have probably locked themselves into a No. 1 seed come Selection Sunday.

So good from them.

But I’m not sure it is going to be quite so easy once league play kicks off, and I cannot see them escaping some early Hilton Magic. Iowa State has been better than we expected through the start of the season, and that is despite the fact that they have been missing Lindell Wigginton and Cameron Lard. Assuming those two play, I think the Jayhawks get picked off in their second game of the Big 12 season.

No. 21 HOUSTON

RECORD: 10-0
NEXT GAME: 12/20 vs. Utah State
CHANCE TO GO UNBEATEN*: 0.06%
FIRST LOSS?: 1/9 at Temple

I’m not totally sold on the Cougars yet, but I think that it has become abundantly clear that they are better than anyone thought they would be. Their 10-0 record does include wins at BYU and Oklahoma State and home wins over Oregon, LSU and Saint Louis. That’s pretty good.

Houston plays their next five games at home, but their first road game in the league is at Temple. If they can get past that game, then Houston could make it all the way into early February — when they play at UCF, Cincinnati at home and at UConn in the span of a week — before they lose.

No. 6 NEVADA

RECORD: 11-0
NEXT GAME: 12/22 vs. Akron
CHANCE TO GO UNBEATEN*: 10.3%
FIRST LOSS?: 1/12 at Fresno State

Nevada is far and away the favorite to head into the post season with an undefeated record. There was a chance that games at Loyola, at USC or against Arizona State on a neutral floor would trip them up, but Eric Musselman’s team is through the most difficult part of their schedule. On paper, they should win every game they play until the NCAA tournament with relative ease. They are projected to be at least a five-point favorite in every game left on their regular season schedule, including road trips to Utah State, Fresno State and San Diego State. KenPom is giving them a 10.3% chance to finish the season undefeated and at least a 69% chance to win every game the rest of the way.

To be totally frank, the key to Nevada having a shot at entering the NCAA tournament without a loss is going to be on them. Will they show up for every game? The last four, they’ve struggled for the first 20 minutes. They trailed USC by six at the half. They trailed Arizona State by 12 points in the first half. They only led Grand Canyon by a bucket at halftime and they trailed South Dakota State for much of the first half.

If they keep playing with fire, eventually they are going to get burned.

(Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

No. 4 MICHIGAN

RECORD: 11-0
NEXT GAME: 12/22 vs. Air Force
CHANCE TO GO UNBEATEN*: 0.1%
FIRST LOSS?: 1/19 at No. 16 Wisconsin

The Wolverines are really, really good. What they’ve done this season is not a fluke. They have come back to earth a little bit over the course of the last two weeks, but this defensive mindset is not going anywhere and so long as Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis remain weapons from the perimeter, this team has the good to win the Big Ten and a national title.

For my money, Wisconsin is the second-best team in the league right now, and the Wolverines will pay a visit to the Kohl Center on January 19th. If they can get past that game … they still aren’t going undefeated. The Big Ten has just two teams ranked outside of the top 60 on KenPom, and Michigan plays each of them (Illinois and Rutgers) once. We saw how tough life can be on the road in this league when Michigan struggled to beat Northwestern in Evanston. With four games against Wisconsin and Michigan State, an undefeated year is a pipe dream.

No. 5 VIRGINIA

RECORD: 9-0
NEXT GAME: 12/19 at South Carolina
CHANCE TO GO UNBEATEN*: 0.03%
FIRST LOSS?: 1/19 at No. 2 Duke

This prediction is complicated by the fact that Kihei Clark is out with an injured wrist. There is no official timetable for his return. The diminutive freshman is the player that gets this defense going and allows the Cavaliers to play both Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter in the position that best suits them. So that’s an important piece that’s missing, and with three of their next six games on the road, Tony Bennett will have his work cut out for him.

But I think they can win those road games — it’s South Carolina, Boston College and Clemson — and I think they can still take care of Florida State and Virginia Tech at home. And while I think that Virginia, when they are healthy, matches up better with Duke than anyone else in the country, I’m not going to be the one predicting that Duke is going to lose at home.

Saturday’s Things To Know: Ohio State’s awesome, Cowan the savior, Queta’s back

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Football dominated the conversation on Saturday.

That’s what happens when conference championship games determine who will be in the college football playoff. And some of those football games that were played on Saturday were fun!

But there were also some good, meaningful college basketball games that happened as well.

So if you spent the afternoon and evening eating, drinking and watching football, here are the ten things you need to know after a fun Saturday of hoops.

1. OHIO STATE IS PLAYING LIKE THE BEST TEAM IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL

I don’t know if No. 6 Ohio State in the best team in college basketball right now.

I don’t think anyone in college basketball is the best team.

After seeing Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke lose as the No. 1 team in the country, I feel like a man that has had multiple relationships end because he was cheated on. I can’t fall in love again until I can trust again, and I am definitely not ready to trust a single college basketball team with the title of my girlfr-… I mean, the No. 1 team in college basketball.

That includes Ohio State.

But I do think that I can say this and have it be justifiable simply because it can be backed up with facts: Ohio State is playing like the best team in college basketball right now.

On Saturday afternoon, the Buckeyes mollywhopped Penn State, beating them 106-74 as they became the first Big Ten team to put up triple digits in a conference game since 2006. Before you start snickering about how bad Penn State is, remember this: The Nittany Lions entered the day as the No. 23 team in KenPom’s rankings.

Ohio State beat them by 32 points.

And that’s not the only KenPom top 25 team that they have done this to.

They beat Villanova by 25. They beat North Carolina by 25, and that game took place in Chapel Hill. According to the indefatigable Jordan Sperber, there have been just six games this season where a KenPom top 50 team has lost by 20 or more points. Ohio State is responsible for dispensing three of those butt-kickings.

So while I don’t think that Ohio State will find themselves at the top of the polls on Monday morning, I do think that there is probably an argument to be made that they deserve it.

2. ANTHONY COWAN SAVES MARYLAND FROM DISASTER

The No. 3 Terps dug themselves a 15 point hole at home against Illinois on Saturday afternoon, which is hardly an ideal scenario and more or less the kind of thing that the naysayers have come to expect out of Mark Turgeon teams these days.

But Maryland didn’t lose.

The Terps rallied, and Cowan was the savior. He finished with 20 points, seven boards, six assists and three steals to lead the way, which is impressive, but what matters more is that Cowan scored four points in the final 20 seconds – a 28-foot three followed by a steal, drawing a foul and hitting a free throw – to give Maryland a 59-58 come-from-behind win.

Now, on the one hand, this performance is somewhat worrying. Top five teams playing at home should not find themselves in a 15 point hole to anyone. But everyone is going to have rough nights, and while this certainly qualifies as such, Maryland still found a way to win. Winning ugly is still a win.

And in regards to Cowan, I think that it should be noted that these are the kind of performances we’ve been waiting to see from him. Put the team on his back, carry them to a win they’re not supposed to get. That’s the stuff All-Americans do.

3. BAYLOR’S TRISTAN CLARK IS NOT RIGHT

The No. 18 Bears found a way to hang on and beat No. 12 Arizona in Waco on Saturday, 63-58, despite the fact that they had to give away free tickets – many of which were scooped up by Arizona fans – because their football team was playing in the Big 12 title game at the exact same time.

But Clark only played ten minutes after sitting out Wednesday’s game against UMES with a foot injury and a knee that apparently hasn’t quite recovered from surgery last season. He tweaked something in the first half and never came back in.

I feel for the kid. Last season, when Clark went down, he was arguably the best big man in the Big 12. He was likely a shoe-in for first-team all-conference had he played for the entire season, and the idea of pairing him with Freddie Gillespie, Mark Vital and all of those talented guards was why everyone was so bullish on Baylor entering the season.

And they weren’t wrong.

This is still a top 15 team.

But if Clark can’t get back to being the guy that he was for two months at the start of last season, that’s a pretty big blow to Scott Drew’s frontcourt depth.

4. NEEMIAS QUETA IS BACK

After a full month of nightly speculation about when Utah State would get their 7-foot-1 Portuguese center back from a knee injury, we finally got the answer on Saturday.

Midway through the first half in a home win over Fresno State on Saturday, Queta checked in for the first time this season.

Queta played just 10 minutes, finishing with six points on six free throws, missing all three of his field goals, but it’s his presence and availability that matters. The Aggies have plenty of skill and shooting on this roster. What they have been missing is a defensive anchor and a rim-protector, and those are the things that Queta does well enough to attract NBA attention.

5. MARKUS HOWARD IS BACK, TOO

After missing a game on Wednesday with a concussion, Markus Howard returned to the floor for Marquette on Saturday, and he made a difference.

The Golden Eagles went into the Little Apple and knocked off Kansas State, 73-65, thanks to 19 points from Howard.

6. IT IS TIME TO TAKE BUTLER SERIOUSLY

I know, I know, it’s Florida.

At this point, Florida has made us believers in Florida State, UConn and now Butler. So maybe we should be saying more about the Gators than about the teams they are playing. That’s certainly a conversation worth having at some point.

But I also think that it is fair to point out that Butler, currently sitting 9-0 after a very impressive 76-62 over those Gators – one in which their star, Kamar Baldwin, was just OK – currently has wins over Florida and Minnesota at home, Stanford and Missouri on a neutral and Ole Miss on the road.

This isn’t a fluke anymore.

7. CINCINNATI HAS BIGGER ISSUES THAN JARRON CUMBERLAND’S HEALTH

I don’t know how injured Jarron Cumberland is right now. I know that he had some issues early in the season that kept him out of practice for a few weeks, and I know that he and head coach John Brannen have had their issues. Cumberland has missed two games this season. He only played 18 minutes in a win against Vermont. His numbers are way down from last season.

On Saturday, Cumberland was 4-for-14 from the floor and finished with just 11 points in a 73-66 loss at Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout.

The bottom line is this: Right now, whatever is going on between Cumberland and Brannen is torpedoing what could have been a really good season.

8. KANSAS PASSED ANOTHER TEST AT HOME

I was actually really curious to see how Kansas would bounce back from their win in the Maui Invitational on Saturday when they hosted No. 20 Colorado.

The Buffaloes are tough. They are a veteran group that is well-coached and that defends the paint well. They have the bodies to give Udoka Azubuike some trouble inside. But that didn’t happen. There was no Maui hangover. The Jayhawks picked off the Buffaloes, 72-58, in a game that was closer to 20 in the second half.

That’s a good win in a tough spot.

9. INDIANA TOOK THEIR FIRST LOSS IN THEIR FIRST ROAD GAME

I don’t think I was the only one that thought the Hoosiers were officially back when they managed to beat up on a good Florida State team on Tuesday night, winning 72-58 in Assembly Hall. That win boosted their record to 8-0 on the season, and while all eight wins came at home, it surely had to mean something considering that one of those wins came against the No. 17 Seminoles.

Right?

Well, on Saturday, those very same Hoosiers got absolutely humiliated in an 84-64 loss at now 5-4 Wisconsin. Indiana trailed by as many as 30 points on Saturday. That’s not good.

10. CREIGHTON HUMILIATED NEBRASKA

We knew that Nebraska was in a rebuilding year in their first season with Fred Hoiberg at the helm, and we also knew that Creighton is a team good enough to make a run at an NCAA tournament bid this season.

The Bluejays were always going to be favored.

But this was a rivalry game.

Nebraska would make it interesting, right? Because these are the kind of games where you just throw the records out the window, correct???

Well, no.

Creighton was up 27-4. They led 37-7. I think the worst that it got was 42-11. The final wasn’t quite as bad – Creighton won 95-76 – but I don’t think anyone still cared at that point.

No. 2 Kansas hands No. 20 Colorado first loss 72-58

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LAWRENCE, Kansas — Ochai Agbaji scored 20 points and Devon Dotson added 18 points to lead No. 2 Kansas to a 72-58 victory over No. 20 Colorado on Saturday, snapping the Buffaloes’ season-opening seven-game winning streak.

Ten days after claiming the Maui Invitational title, the Jayhawks (7-1) built an early 6-0 lead over their former conference foes. David McCormack fueled the hot start, contributing six of the Jayhawks’ opening eight points.

Holding leading scorer Tyler Bey scoreless from the field through the first half, Kansas used a 9-0 run to build a 19-9 lead. Colorado (7-1) shot 26.9% from the field in the first half and that allowed the Jayhawks to take a 34-22 lead at halftime.

With Bey and D’Shawn Schwartz quieted, Evan Battey lead the way for the Buffaloes, scoring 14 points on a 5-for-8 shooting.

Schwartz picked up a technical foul on a dunk that temporarily quieted the raucous Kansas crowd, and Agbaji knocked down four 3-point baskets in the second half to keep the Buffaloes at a distance.

Colorado forced 21 Kansas turnovers, but the Jayhawks shot 52.9% to outlast the Buffaloes.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The size of the Jayhawks overpowered Colorado inside, especially with a two-big lineup, outscoring the Buffaloes 38-22 down low. The Jayhawks also found some late success from outside, shooting 85.7% from 3-point range in the second half after missing all six first-half attempts.

Colorado: With Bey contained by the swarming Kansas defense, the Buffaloes struggled to find any momentum offensively, turning the ball over 17 times and shooting 30% from the field.

UP NEXT

Kansas: Hosts Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Colorado: Hosts Northern Iowa on Tuesday.

Achiuwa, No. 15 Memphis surge back to beat UAB 65-57

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Precious Achiuwa scored eight of his 14 points in the final 4 minutes to rally No. 15 Memphis past UAB 65-57.

Memphis (8-1) trailed 17-0 early and 40-26 at halftime. The Tigers needed a 19-4 run over the final 8 minutes to overcome the Blazers (4-4), who didn’t relinquish the lead until freshman Achiuwa’s tip shot with 2:56 left put Memphis up 56-55.

UAB’s own sensational freshman, Jalen Benjamin, scored 17 points, but the Blazers lost their third straight.

Memphis cranked up the pressure in the second half, and UAB finally cracked in the final minutes. It began unraveling after Achiuwa hit two free throws to reduce the deficit to 44-29.

D.J. Jeffries, another member of Memphis’ heralded freshman class, followed up with two drunks and finished a one-man, nine-point run with a 3-pointer. That cut the lead to 44-38, Memphis outplayed the Blazers the rest of the way.

BIG PICTURE

Memphis: The Tigers busted out of a first-half slump in a big way, shooting 54% from the floor in the second half. … Memphis improved to 5-0 without its leading scorer, freshman James Wiseman (19.7 points in three games). He is scheduled to return from suspension Jan. 12 after being banned by the NCAA after it was found that coach Penny Hardaway provided money for moving expenses to Wiseman’s family before Hardaway was hired by Memphis.

UAB: The Blazers were doomed by 23 turnovers, a number of key ones in the second half due to Memphis’ full-court press.

UP NEXT

Memphis: The Tigers take a week off before returning to action Dec. 14 at Tennessee in the penultimate game scheduled in the series. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said recently he’s not in favor of renewing the contract following a contentious meeting last season in Memphis.

UAB: Also takes a week off before playing the first of three consecutive games with instate foes. The Blazers host Montevallo on Dec. 14.

Anthony Cowan’s clutch three, steal keep No. 3 Maryland undefeated (VIDEO)

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Anthony Cowan Jr. made a free throw with 2.1 seconds left and No. 3 Maryland erased a 15-point deficit in the second half to rally past Illinois 59-58 Saturday in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

The Terrapins (10-0, 1-0 Big Ten) didn’t lead after halftime until Cowan’s free throw but still matched their best start since winning 10 straight to open the 1998-99 season.

Cowan collected a steal in the closing seconds of a tie game and was fouled in a scrum by guard Andres Feliz. Cowan made the first free throw and missed the second. Illinois (6-3, 0-1) failed to get a shot off in the remaining time.

Here is that entire sequence:

Cowan had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Jalen Smith (14 points, 13 rebounds) recorded his sixth double-double of the season for Maryland.

Trent Frazier scored 13 points for Illinois, which nearly claimed its first road victory over a top-five team since 1989. The Fighting Illini have lost 15 consecutive road games against ranked teams and six straight conference openers.

Illinois led 39-25 at halftime and briefly pushed its lead to 15 in the second half, but Maryland gradually clawed back.

Donta Scott’s basket with 1:45 remaining got Maryland within 57-55, and Frazier split two free throws 2 seconds later. It remained a three-point game until Cowan hit a deep 3-pointer with 29.8 seconds remaining.

The 14-point halftime hole was the largest Maryland has erased since coming back from a 15-point deficit at the break in an 80-78 defeat of Bucknell on Nov. 18, 2017.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: After allowing Miami to shoot 59.3% while dropping an 81-79 decision Monday, the Illini were far sharper on defense. It wasn’t enough to avoid enduring a second consecutive one-possession loss.

Maryland: The Terps once again turned in a stellar second half to remain perfect on the season. Maryland has defeated Marquette, Notre Dame and Illinois in a seven-day span.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Maryland avoided joining No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Virginia and No. 7 North Carolina as highly ranked teams to stumble this week. The Terps will likely remain in the top three when the next poll is released Monday.

UP NEXT

Illinois: The Illini host Michigan on Wednesday for their Big Ten home opener. Illinois has lost four in a row and 14 of 16 to the Wolverines.

Maryland: The Terrapins travel Tuesday to Penn State, where they have lost in each of the last three seasons.

No. 8 Kentucky rolls Fairleigh Dickinson, 600th win at Rupp

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — EJ Montgomery scored a career-high 25 points, forward Keion Brooks added 15 off the bench and No. 8 Kentucky dominated Fairleigh Dickinson 83-52 on Saturday for its 600th victory at Rupp Arena.

The 6-foot-10 Montgomery made 12 of 16 from the field, including several dunks to surpass his previous scoring best of 16 on Nov. 29 against UAB.

Forward Nick Richards, at 6-11, had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats (7-1), whose 19-2 run over 6:11 in the first half built a 43-23 halftime lead. Kentucky shot 52% and held the Knights (2-6) to 33% shooting, outrebounded them 42-33 and owned nearly statistic for their fifth consecutive victory after a week off.

The Wildcats became the fastest school to reach 600 wins in an arena in NCAA history. Kentucky achieved the milestone at the 43-year-old building named after coach Adolph Rupp in 670 games, surpassing the pace of UCLA (689 games at Pauley Pavilion) and Kansas (699 at Allen Fieldhouse) .

Kaleb Bishop had 12 points for the Knights, who led only in the early minutes. The Northeast Conference school was coming off Tuesday’s 78-77 win over Quinnipiac that ended a five-game losing streak.

BIG PICTURE

Fairleigh Dickinson: The Knights couldn’t follow up their 50% shooting against Quinnipiac beyond the first couple of baskets as Kentucky’s defense disrupted their flow. They certainly were no match against the taller Wildcats inside, resulting in lopsided gaps in rebounding and paint scoring respectively.

Kentucky: The Wildcats emerged from the week-long break sharper and crisper, especially on defense. At times there were three players battling for rebounds, and they forced eight turnovers in the first half alone. Montgomery’s growing offensive confidence showed with several jumpers and aggression inside. Brooks, a freshman forward, took off in the second half for a career high as well.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

This victory likely won’t change Kentucky’s position in the rankings.

UP NEXT

Fairleigh Dickinson visits St. Peter’s on Wednesday.

Kentucky hosts Georgia Tech on Dec. 14 as it faces Power Five opponents for the remainder of the season.