Tracking The Unbeatens: Kentucky’s close calls and Virginia’s road wins
Every Monday from now until every team in the country has a loss on their resume, we will be Tracking The Unbeatens, and predicting when, exactly, that unbeaten streak will end. You can follow along here.
Who lost last week?: Duke (at N.C. State)
And then there were two ...
Kentucky (15-0): Since the last time we took a look at the nation’s remaining undefeated teams, Kentucky has been pushed to overtime by Ole Miss in Rupp and to double-overtime by Texas A&M in College Station. In those two games, the Wildcats looked anything-but a team that could run the SEC without picking up a head-scratching loss, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that we can probably expect another performance or three like that from the Wildcats again during the regular season.
But it’s also important to note that Kentucky’s struggles this past week do nothing to erase how dominant they were at Louisville or against Kansas or in home wins over North Carolina and Texas. Should we really be all that surprised that a team full of SEC-caliber basketball players was able to give Kentucky a fight when it’s not hyperbole to say they may be playing for their chances at an at-large bid? The Wildcats are the only team in the SEC that can be considered a resume-defining win, and with the number of programs that look like they’re headed for the bubble in that league, Kentucky is going to get everyone’s best shot every time they play.
And despite those two close calls, the Wildcats are still heavy, heavy favorites for their Tuesday game against Missouri. And they’ll like be heavy favorites for the rest of the season. The question is going to be whether or not they can make the needed adjustments -- Tweaks!!! -- before they get tripped up.
- Next Game: Jan. 13 vs. Missouri
- First Loss?: Jan. 29 at South Carolina
Virginia (15-0): Call me stubborn, but I still can’t help but think that Virginia is overrated where they currently stand; I don’t think this is the second-best team in the country. I don’t question their ability on the defensive end of the floor, but I do have concerns about them offensively. I’ve said it time and again, but they don’t have that game-changing presence like they did last season.
But through the first half of their schedule, that has not mattered in the least. Virginia is 15-0 with wins at VCU, at Maryland and at Notre Dame. You’d be hard-pressed to find teams with one top 20 road win on their resume, and the Cavs have three. Justin Anderson’s white-hot shooting hasn’t slowed down and of Virginia’s trio of big bodies -- Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey and Darion Atkins -- at least one of them will be scoring the ball well in the post on any given night.
I think it will catch up with the ‘Hoos eventually. I’ve also been wrong before and will be wrong again, and if I end up being completely off base about Virginia, I’ll own it.
- Next Game: Jan. 13 vs. Clemson
- First Loss?: Jan. 31 vs. Duke