Which Will Be Final NCAA Unbeaten To Lose?
Entering this week, there are four teams left in college basketball without a loss. Three will be recognizable to any basketball fan: Top-ranked Duke, No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Arizona. The fourth team isn't exactly known as a basketball power: the University of Wyoming.
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The Cowboys actually have won a national championship in their history, taking down Georgetown in the 1943 title game. Wyoming has reached 14 NCAA Tournaments in school history but not since 2002. And before that, it had been since 1988, a team led by the immortal (in name only) Fennis Dembo.
This year's club has really had only one big test in starting 13-0, the best start in school history. And that was last time out, Jan. 2 at SMU. The Cowboys won 59-56 for their fourth true road win thus far. The Pokes' 13-game win streak is the school's longest since the 1942-43 season when it won 23 straight. Wyoming is a terrific 8-1-1 ATS this season, which is the fewest ATS losses of any major program. The lone ATS loss was a 67-60 win over Southern on Nov. 16 in which Wyoming was a 19-point favorite. The Cowboys were -2 against SMU. Senior forward Leonard Washington is the star, leading the club in points and (15.1) and rebounds (8.8) per game.
However, Wyoming's run could end as soon as Wednesday as it hosts Boise State (12-2, 6-4 ATS) in the Mountain West opener for both. The Pokes will be short favorites, but BSU nearly won at ranked Michigan State earlier this year and also hung with ranked Creighton. The Broncos have won six straight, all by double-digits, including beating a solid LSU team. Boise State was 0-2 against Wyoming last year, losing by 11 and 10 points. Should Wyoming get by Boise State, it will be favored in its next two games, at Nevada and at Fresno State, before hosting No. 16 San Diego State on Jan. 19. The Cowboys then have to visit No. 24 UNLV on Jan. 24.
Duke (14-0, 8-6 ATS) is in action Tuesday night, hosting Clemson as a 19.5-point favorite. The Blue Devils have won 26 of the past 28 meetings with the Tigers. Duke is 12-1 all-time against Clemson when ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, including 11-0 under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Clemson hasn't won in Durham since 1995, a string of 14 straight losses. Duke has yet to play a true road game this season, but that will change Saturday at No. 20 North Carolina State, the preseason ACC favorite. The Wolfpack are the only currently ranked team left on Duke's schedule with North Carolina having fallen out of the Top 25.
Michigan (15-0, 10-4 ATS - tied for second-most ATS wins in nation) has been blowing the doors off its opposition of late. A win Wednesday at home over Nebraska, in which the Wolverines will be double-digit favorites, would tie the Michigan school record for best start, set by the 1985-86 team. Michigan's 95 points against Iowa in its last game was the most for U-M in a Big Ten game since February 1998. The Wolverines have scored at least 88 points in the past four games. U-M should get a decent test Sunday at No. 15 Ohio State, Michigan's first road game against a ranked foe this season.
Arizona (14-0, 7-5 ATS) has had several close calls already. It beat Florida by one point, rallying from six down in the final 56 seconds. The Wildcats also beat San Diego State by just a point thanks to a last-second blocked shot. In Arizona's Pac-12 opener against Colorado last Thursday, it appeared the Buffs hit a game-winning 3-point at the buzzer, but officials waived it off after consulting the video. Arizona was down eight points with 1:35 left in regulation. The Cats went on to win by nine in overtime. And then on Saturday, Arizona beat Utah by just 3 when a Utes potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced twice off the rim and once off the backboard before missing. Arizona, which is off to its best start since opening the 1931-32 season 16-0, plays at a good Oregon team on Thursday and visits Oregon State on Saturday. There are no currently ranked teams left on Arizona's schedule.
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