Then There Were None: No Team Will Run Table In Regular Season
In this modern era of parity, it seems very unlikely that a major college basketball program will be able to finish the regular season with an unbeaten record. The last to do so was the 2003-04 St. Joseph's team of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Led by current Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, the Hawks entered the A-10 Tournament at 27-0 and No. 1 in the nation for the first time in school history.
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St. Joe's was destroyed in its A-10 quarterfinal game, losing 87-67 to unranked Xavier, which led by 35 at one point during the game. It was the worst loss ever by a No. 1 team against an unranked team. However, the Hawks would still get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They would lose a close game to Oklahoma State in the Elite Eight. Thus the last team to enter the Big Dance without a loss was the storied 1990-91 UNLV team that was upset by Duke in the Final Four.
Last week's action in college basketball assured that no club will enter its conference tournament with a zero in the loss column in 2013 as Wyoming, Arizona, Duke and Michigan all lost their games. The fun started Wednesday night when 13-0 Wyoming lost 63-61 at home to Boise State on a Jeff Elorriaga buzzer-beating three-pointer. The Cowboys were 6.5-point favorites and had covered six in a row entering the game.
On Thursday night, unbeaten Arizona was upset 70-66 at Oregon. It was no fluke as the Ducks led for nearly the final 28 minutes. The Wildcats had been playing with fire often this season in winning close games in the final minute and it finally caught up with them. Arizona was only a 1.5-point favorite for the game as Oregon is terrific at home, currently on an 18-game winning streak there.
On Saturday, top-ranked Duke became the third unbeaten to lose, falling 84-76 at NC State as a one-point favorite. It was the Wolfpack's first win over a No. 1 team since 2004 and Duke's 32nd loss as a No. 1, the most in NCAA history. The Blue Devils, who were one-point favorites, clearly missed starting senior forward Ryan Kelly, who is out indefinitely with an injured foot. Duke's loss led to Louisville taking over the top spot in the polls on Monday.
So that left Michigan as the last unbeaten standing on Sunday, but the Wolverines came out flat at archrival Ohio State. The Buckeyes led Michigan by as many as 21 points in the first half on the way to a 56-53 win; OSU actually was a two-point favorite. Had U-M completed the rally, it would have been No. 1 in the nation for the first time since November 1992. In an odd coincidence, since the 1978-79 season the final remaining unbeaten Division I team has been a Big Ten school. It was Ohio State's ninth straight home win against Michigan.
This Week's Live Betting Schedule
The book will offer two games a night Tuesday-Thursday for play-by-play betting. On Tuesday, it's Tennessee at struggling Kentucky and Wisconsin at No. 2 Indiana. UK was stunned at home over the weekend by Texas A&M and is looking to avoid back-to-back losses at Rupp for the first time in nearly four years. UK entered last month on a 55-game home winning streak but has now lost twice at Rupp since. The Cats are 13-point favorites to bounce back.
On Wednesday the options are: No. 14 NC State at Maryland, West Virginia at Iowa State and Saint Mary's (Calif.) at BYU. The Wolfpack were the ACC preseason favorites and they are starting to show why. They are 3-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1988-89 season and have won 10 in a row (5-4 ATS) for the first time since then.
On Thursday, bettors can choose among No. 5 Michigan at No. 9 Minnesota, Georgia Tech at No. 3 Duke and No. 21 Oregon at USC. The struggling Trojans fired coach Kevin O'Neill on Monday, so Thursday will be the debut of assistant Bob Cantu as the interim head coach. USC routed Utah on Saturday but is just 7-10 overall (6-9-1 ATS) and 2-2 in the Pac-12 a year after going 6-26.
Check back Thursday for a weekend Live Betting preview at the book.
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