It’s the club that keeps getting smaller. There were only 17 members at the end of November (even Duke had been evicted), and now we're at 9. The exodus will certainly continue.
Introducing the 9 Last Unbeatens, ranked in order of least surprising to most.
KANSAS (8-0). The Jayhawks were preseason No. 1, so it’s hardly a shocker to find them without a loss. It hasn’t been all smooth road; they’ve trailed by at least eight points the past five games in a row. Still, just how do you begin the season at No. 1, stay unbeaten with a couple of the wins over top 10 opponents, and get passed by two teams in the polls? First, Duke. Then, Gonzaga.
Did you know . . . the victories over Michigan State and Tennessee meant Kansas is now 20-1 against top 10 teams in the regular season going back to 2012? Staggering. If only March went that well.
Beware . . . Villanova visits Lawrence on Dec. 15. By then, the Wildcats might be starting to return to customary form.
Lagerald Vick's CLUTCH triple to send things to OT in the Kansas win 😳pic.twitter.com/baWKSyMdo0— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) December 2, 2018
NEVADA (10-0). It’s a veteran, accomplished team that hasn’t yet met a ranked opponent, so no wonder the shiny record. Nine of the ten wins have been by double figures.
Did you know . . . the Wolf Pack are one of only two teams in the nation — with Maine — to start five redshirt seniors. And another is a top reserve. That’s experience in bold letters.
Beware . . . The Wolf Pack will have to beat San Diego State twice this season to stay undefeated, once on Feb. 20 and again on March 9.
VIRGINIA (9-0). This is one way to forget how last season ended. The Cavaliers have resumed standard procedure, making few turnovers — 63 in eight games — and giving up few points — one opponent has broken 60.
Did you know . . . Virginia has players on its roster from five continents — North and South America, Africa, Australia and Europe. What, no Antarctica?
Beware . . . Duke on Jan. 19. Zion Williamson and the Blue Devils are 9-1 and have scored over 100 points in five games so far this season.
ST. JOHN’S (9-0). The Red Storm were expected to make a move this season, but they haven’t seen 9-0 since the 1990-1991 season. It’s been an adventure. They’ve come from 11 points down in the second half against Bowling Green, seven down to beat California, scored in the last five seconds of overtime to get past VCU after 24 lead changes and 16 ties and rallied from 16 behind Saturday to beat Georgia Tech. Piece of cake.
Did you know . . . Chris Mullin is now 4-0 against the ACC.
Beware . . . After a five-game home stand, Big East play begins Dec. 29 with a dangerous trip to Seton Hall.
HOUSTON (8-0). The Cougars opened a new arena Saturday by beating Oregon. That’s called a statement win. This is only the third 8-0 start since the 1969-1970 season, and first in 21 years.
Did you know . . . the Cougars have won 20 home games in a row, second longest streak in the nation. But the first 19 were at the place they borrowed at Texas Southern, while Fertitta Center was being built.
Beware . . . A treacherous series of home games starting with LSU on Wednesday.
MICHIGAN (10-0). Somewhere between playing Villanova, North Carolina and Purdue, the Wolverines were supposed to hit a speed bump. Forget it. They’ve won eight games by at least 17 points and are giving up an average of 23 points in the first half. Wow.
Did you know . . . Michigan held that ranked threesome — Villanova, North Carolina and Purdue — to 47, 29.6 and 26.4 points below their scoring average. Double wow.
Beware . . . Big Ten road games are invariably perilous. The Wolverines have their next one Jan. 10 at Illinois.
Rui’s got the moves! 👀pic.twitter.com/BcjowiyR5w— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) December 1, 2018
BUFFALO (0-0). The Bulls were supposed to be good, but this is rarer in western New York than snowless Januarys. They are now the first Big 4 program to start 9-0 since the 1969-70 season. And they certainly weren’t expected to blow through Morgantown and beat West Virginia; their first road win ever over a ranked opponent.
Did you know . . . when CJ Massinburg scored 43 points to help take down the Mountaineers, he became only the second player to ever break 40 against a Bob Huggins West Virginia team.
Beware . . . December travel that seems decidedly icy, with trips to Syracuse and Marquette.
TEXAS TECH (8-0). The Red Raiders lost five of their top six scorers from last season. That’s kinda hard to remember when you look at the record. Only one opponent has shot better than 35.4 percent against them, and these two words are a big reason why: Tariq Owens. He blocked six Memphis shots in the last nine minutes.
Did you know . . . the Red Raiders use halftime as a launching pad. USC and Memphis each had double-digit leads, then . . . blastoff. Texas Tech outscored the Trojans 55-31 and the Tigers 50-30 in the second half.
Beware . . . That Dec. 20 date with Duke in New York. Texas Tech defense, say hello to Zion Williamson.
FURMAN (10-0). No way were the Paladins supposed to be in this club. Not after playing half of last year’s Final Four on the road. But meet the Flying Wallendas of college basketball. Three of Furman’s eight victories have come in overtime, including at No. 8 Villanova, the highest ranked opponent the Paladins have beaten in 39 years. There was also the winning dunk in the last two seconds at Loyola Chicago.
Did you know . . . there were 45 lead changes in Furman’s three overtime victories.
Beware . . . The trip to LSU on Dec. 21. But then, for Furman and all the others, every game comes with a warning. It’s easy to get kicked out of this club.