And Then There Were Three

And then there were three.

2016 seemed bent on going out destroying as many unbeaten seasons as possible, cutting the list in half.  With the previous calendar year behind us, we’re left with Baylor, Gonzaga, and Villanova.

If the past week was any indication, it’s not easy to be undefeated.  Heck, if DePaul can nearly do the impossible, who can’t?  The unpredictability is the fun of it, I guess, but we got to write about something.  So who’s gonna last the longest?  Let’s break it down.

The case (and prediction) for each:

Villanova (14-0)

Why they’ll be the last remaining unbeaten

It’s pretty clear from what we’ve seen so far that Villanova is one of the toughest teams in the country.  Over the past few days, the Wildcats have been pushed to the limits by DePaul and Creighton but refused to be shaken.  We also can’t not talk about Josh Hart, who is one of (if not the) best players in the country.  Other teams don’t have a guy with his poise and coolness when the going gets tough.  Besides all of that, you can’t ignore the fact that they play Butler and Xavier over their next three games after two big-time tests.  We know Villanova is tough, but are they that tough?  We’ll see.

How long, really, will the unbeaten run last?

I imagine that Villanova loses at least once to Butler and Xavier, more likely to the Bulldogs, since they’ll meet at the historically difficult venues to play in in the legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse.  If they survive that, the next roadblock is the January 29th non-conference battle with Virginia, which is going to be a slugfest.  And you know there’s gonna be a few more DePauls sprinkled in, since the team to beat draws the A-games.  I really don’t see the Wildcats making it out of January untouched.  I wouldn’t put anything past them, however, as it’s been years since I’ve seen a team this collected and mentally strong, especially with everything that’s been thrown their way.

Baylor (13-0)

Why they’ll be the last remaining unbeaten

Baylor is making it look easy.  Everyone appears to be in the midst of a breakout year, especially forward Johnathan Motley, who’s going absolutely berserk, and point guard Manu Lecomte, who’s flourishing in his first chance to be a 30-minute guy.  The Bears are also a lot deeper than expected.  But the one thing that gets you really excited about Baylor is their newfound consistency.  After years of being unsure what type of team would step onto the floor, Baylor started out 2016-17 red-hot and hasn’t cooled off…. at all.  They way they’re playing, it’s tough to see anyone knocking them off anytime soon.

How long, really, will the unbeaten run last?

Hold up.  You don’t really think Baylor can run the table, do you?  Ha.  No.  Not in the Big 12, one of the toughest conferences to maneuver.  Its size is the X-factor.  Here are the two reasons why:

  1. The competition is tight.  There are no cupcakes in the ten-team Big 12.  None.
  2. You have to play everyone twice.  Beating a team – any team – twice is a very difficult thing to do in college basketball.

However, we are here to discuss how long that egg in the loss column stays fresh, not whether it will ever go away, because spoiler alert: It will.  The main roadblock ahead for Baylor is January 10th at West Virginia.  If anyone’s gonna halt the Baylor train, it’s the Mountaineers and their “Press Virginia” defensive style.  I predict that the Bears lose that one and at least one other in before the showdown with Kansas on February 1st.

Gonzaga (14-0)

Why they’ll be the last remaining unbeaten

Three words: West.  Coast.  Conference.  No disrespect to the WCC, but it’s no Big East or Big 12.  It’s hardly a distant cousin.  The only team in that conference that is capable of knocking off the loaded Zags is 19th-ranked Saint Mary’s.  Gonzaga will face the Gaels at home on January 14th, but if I’m picking a day for Gonzaga to lose, it’s mid-February when Saint Mary’s plays host.  Either way, I don’t see it happening.  The perfect season hype is legit.  I don’t think we’ve ever seen a mid-major team this good.

How long, really, will the unbeaten run last?

Like I said, probably for awhile.  I can’t deny it will be tough to beat Saint Mary’s twice and especially three times if the two meet in the WCC tournament.  And BYU can really rack up points.  But to me, the question is whether or not Gonzaga can win it all, not whether they’ll go untouched through Selection Sunday.

 

 

 

Noah Holley

Hello! My name is Noah. I am a 14 year old sports fanatic that is an intern for College Pride Press. I am one of the site’s bracketologists. I also write about other random stuff. For my own website, noahsports.net, I cover college football, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, golf, and MLL. Be sure to check it out! (Twitter: @NoahSports1)

http://noahsports.net

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