Wisconsin has lost two straight to Indiana and Michigan. Arizona, Syracuse, and Wichita State are now the only undefeated teams left in Division I basketball. Arizona took down in-state rival Arizona State 91-68 last Thursday and will take on a tough Colorado team next Thursday on January 23rd. Syracuse faced Pittsburgh for their first ACC meeting and their 103rd overall last Saturday night and it was the Orangemen that came out on top 59-54. That was Pitt’s first ACC loss of the season and drops them to 16-2 (4-1). Then Wichita State blew out Indiana State 68-48 to go 18-0 for the first time in program history. So why are these three teams still undefeated midway through the season? Well let’s start with Arizona.
Besides Duke, UNLV, and Michigan, they had a fairly easy non-conference schedule to begin the season. They’re balanced both offensively and defensively. They control the inside of the paint because of super-freshman Aaron Gordon and they pass the ball to the open man (they are 29th in the nation in assists per game). Head Coach Sean Miller has done a terrific job at handling these young athletes so that they can play as one solid unit (they only have one senior on the roster and five freshmen). The only teams that should give Arizona trouble for the rest of the season are Colorado, California, and Oregon. If Arizona could hold up against those guys and the rest of their opponents, they could go undefeated for the rest of the year and head back to that national championship that they’ve been waiting for since 1997. Then there’s Syracuse. Jim Boeheim’s zone defense is looking better than ever thanks to experienced players like C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant, and Rakeem Christmas. The Orange don’t exactly pop out at you on offense, but they say the best defense is the best offense. Speaking of offense, freshman point guard Tyler Ennis has been running the Orange’s offense to literally perfection while senior C.J. Fair is having the best year of his illustrious career averaging 17.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. He will be a sure first round pick in this upcoming NBA draft that is just loaded with talent. For NBA teams, it doesn’t matter if you make the playoffs or not, you will still end up drafting a future superstar player no matter what pick you have in the draft. Last, but not least is Wichita State.
They have been blowing by everyone they have played against. Just like Syracuse, they have a great defense that crashes the boards (they are 31st in the nation in rebounding). During their perfect run, they have not allowed an opponent to score more than 72 points against them all year. After Wisconsin’s loss, they should move up to the third or fourth ranking in the nation, something that Coach Gregg Marshall probably didn’t dream of since he took over the program in 2007. Looking at their schedule, they should remain undefeated unless someone else “shocks” them. Their offense runs through their talented sophomore point guard Fred Van Vleet and their senior big man Cleanthony Early. With this one-two punch on the court, Wichita State could be fighting for a number one seed in the national tournament, something that will really “shock” the world! Sorry about the puns. I just can’t help it! It’s too easy!
So you’ve got the dominating Arizona Wildcats, the smart and experienced Syracuse Orangemen, and the suprisingly talented Wichita State Shockers. Keep your eyes open for these three; either one of them could make history this year.