It’s been 39 years since college basketball’s last unbeaten team, Indiana, 1976. The Hoosiers, led by all-Americans Scott May and Kent Benson, went 32-0. This powerhouse from the Midwest, coached by a young, hungry Bobby Knight, was clearly the best team, they knew they were the best team…and so did everybody else.
As we’re already into mid-January (gee what happened to the holidays?), we’ve got two unbeaten teams remaining, Kentucky and Virginia, both 16-0. College basketball’s perennial blue blood, the Kentucky Wildcats, have a deep, talented team, another NBA-caliber Calipari freshman class. But will the loaded Wildcats run the table? Probably not. If two recent, closer-than-expected games against SEC teams Ole Miss and Texas A&M provide any clues, then a loss may be coming (and that may not be a bad thing for the young squad in need of perhaps, a little humility). All the same, No. 1 Kentucky will likely win its game this afternoon against Alabama on the road in Tuscaloosa. But you never know, as the Crimson Tide is an improved team this year, and the school does need a lift after its own blue blood, the beloved football team, lost to Ohio State (shocking!) in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl semi-final.
As for the Virginia Cavaliers, this is an interesting team, perhaps even a team that the efficient 1976 Hoosiers would like. While not the most talented team in their own conference, the experienced Cavaliers boast an old-school, suffocating defense, holding opponents to under 34 percent shooting. Guards Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes run a patient, efficient Virginia offense. As the nation’s No. 2 ranked team, coach Tony Bennett will not let the Cavaliers grow complacent and “drink the Kool-Aid.” The team has a trip today up to Chestnut Hill in Boston and should win against Boston College. A tough stretch in late January/early February looms.
Still, in mid-January, it’s fun to track the last two unbeaten teams in college basketball, who clearly stand-out right now from the rest of the field.