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The Mighty Shall Fall, Part 2
by ASA - 12/14/2007
There are currently 12 teams in college basketball who remain undefeated through the first month of the season. Last week we sent you half of the unbeaten teams. This week comes the final six. Hereâ€™s a look at which teams will remain undefeated into the foreseeable future and which will soon experience their first blemish.
The Rebels have run, run and run some more en route to their 7-0 (3-2 ATS) mark this year. Ole Miss is second in the nation with 91.9 points per game this year, topping the century mark twice already this season. The Rebels hadnâ€™t even left their home court until last week, though, picking up six of their seven wins at home. And those wins havenâ€™t been all that impressive either with the best coming against New Mexico.
First loss could comeâ€¦ Dec. 22 against Clemson at San Juan Shootout. This trip to the San Juan shootout will be the first significant travel as well as their first game against a ranked opponent. Clemson, which could have James Mays back by the start of this tourney, plays tough defense and will make it difficult for the Rebels to score at their usual clip. Both teams could easily be undefeated at this point but only one can leave San Juan that way.
The top-ranked Tar Heels, unlike most teams on this list, have spent a majority of their time away from home this year. They are 8-0 (6-1 ATS) on the season, including a perfect 3-0 marks both on the road and on neutral courts. North Carolina has gotten through the tough portion of its non-conference slate unscathed, picking up wins over Davidson, Ohio State and Kentucky, with the last two coming in true road games. The Heels have severely beaten up on their lesser competition, eclipsing the 100-point mark in wins over Penn, Iona and South Carolina State.
First loss could comeâ€¦ Feb. 3 at Florida State. Following this weekâ€™s tilt at Rutgers, North Carolina plays eight straight at home and shouldnâ€™t lose any of those contests. The early stages of the Heelsâ€™ ACC schedule is also fairly light until they travel to Florida State. The Seminoles are currently 9-2 (5-3 ATS) on the season, including a 14-point win at Florida, and have won those nine games by 20.6 points per game.
The Panthers have long been regarded as a grind-it-out team with defense at the forefront. This year theyâ€™ve added a strong offensive element that has played a large role in the team getting out to a 9-0 (3-2 ATS) start to the season. Pittsburgh is still a strong defensive squad with just 57.6 points allowed per game but it is now averaging 81.8 points of its own per game. The Panthers beat up on weak competition for the first seven wins before scraping out close road wins at Duquesne and Washington.
First loss could comeâ€¦ Jan. 6 at Villanova. A neutral-court duel with Duke and a road contest at Dayton will provide good tests for the mostly unproven Panthers. But that first loss wonâ€™t come into conference season when they travel to Villanova in their Big East opener. Pitt has looked shaky away from home this year, winning its two road contests by just six combined points. Villanova is once again a strong team with solid guard play and lethal outside shooting, which will make things difficult for the visiting Panthers.
No team on this list has as an impressive of a win as Texasâ€™ 63-61 upset at then-No. 1 UCLA. Add to that a 19-point slaying of Tennessee over then-No. 7 Tennessee on a neutral court and the Longhorns are quickly making fans forget about Kevin Durant. Texas currently sits at 9-0 (5-1 ATS) on the year, shooting 46.8 percent from three-point range and 52.7 percent overall to score 84.3 points per game. The Longhorns offense is much more balanced than last yearâ€™s edition, making them a much more dangerous squad.
First loss could comeâ€¦ Dec. 22 at Michigan State. The win at UCLA is impressive but thereâ€™s nothing quite like playing in a Big Ten atmosphere. Michigan State currently sits at 8-1 on the year, including a perfect 5-0 at home. The Spartans have won those five home contests by 21.4 points per game. The Longhorns have been an amazing offensive team this year but theyâ€™ll have their work cut out for them against Tom Izzo and his Spartan defense.
The Commodores lost leading-scorer Derrick Byars but that hasnâ€™t fazed this team as guard Shan Foster, along with Aussie freshman center Andrew Ogilvy, has taken the reins. Vandy is 9-0 (5-3 ATS) on the year, and while it lacks a marquee win, has produced some solid victories. Austin Peay, Valparaiso, Utah State, Bradley and South Alabama arenâ€™t big-name programs but each is among the best in their respective conferences.
First loss could comeâ€¦ Jan. 17 at Tennessee. Except for Massachusettsâ€™ Jan. 5 visit, the remainder of Vanderbiltâ€™s non-conference schedule is pretty easy with its next six opponents sitting at a combined 20-27 on the year. SEC action will hit the Commodores hard and fast with their trip to Knoxville looking like a daunting task. The Vols beat Vandy by 27 points in Knoxville last year en route to a perfect home record. Tennessee is perfect at home once again this year so Vandy will have an extremely difficult time winning there.
The Cougars havenâ€™t strayed from what succeeded last year, riding a stifling defense all the way to a 9-0 (6-3 ATS) start. Washington State is third in the nation with just 52.4 points allowed per game, holding foes to 37.6 percent shooting along the way. Back-to-back road wins at Baylor and Gonzaga, who are a combined 14-3 on the year, proved that the Cougars are for real and last seasonâ€™s success was no fluke.
First loss could comeâ€¦ Jan. 10 at USC. Washington State took two out of three from USC last year but its 70-61 loss to the Trojans in the Pac-10 Tournament is the better indication of where these teams stand. Wazzuâ€™s two wins in the series last year came by a combined five points. USC matches up very well with the Cougars and you can expect a low-scoring affair in this game. Aside from their season-opening loss to Mercer, USC's only other two losses came to Kansas and Memphis and by a combined eight points.