We are around halfway through the season, and the Zags are one of five remaining unbeaten teams in college basketball. That must mean it is time to talk about the chances of the Zags going undefeated already.
Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! got us off to our ceremonial start, pointing out the two key points: 1) the Zags have the easiest chance by virtue of the conference they play in; 2) Ken Pomeroy still puts this at a rather low, low, low chance of 7.8 percent.
The latter point is exactly why talk of going undefeated by the Zags is incredibly premature. Sure, the WCC for the most part is a pushover. But there are a few games on there that are far from money-back guarantee wins: on the road at Saint Mary’s, BYU, and San Francisco.
The Zags will check off the road game against the Dons early, and that game is realistically only on the trap list because out of any opposing venue the Zags have a history of losing at recently, it is the War Memorial Gymnasium.
The game at BYU isn’t until Feb. 2, and the game at Saint Mary’s isn’t all the way until Feb. 11. Until both of those games are plowed through, it is a waste of time to even broach the question of whether or not the Zags can go undefeated. Right now, Pomeroy’s models have the Zags with a 73 percent chance of victory at BYU, but that number drops down to 42 percent at Saint Mary’s.
Ever since UNLV made its huge run in 1991, it took 13 years for another team to do it when Saint Joseph’s pulled off the feat in 2004. Since then, it has happened yet a couple of other times with Wichita State in 2014 and Kentucky in 2015.
It still takes just as much close calls as it does overall talent and skill to run the table. Wichita State nearly made it a moot point on Jan. 11, 2014, when they needed overtime to knock off a mediocre Missouri State team on the road. That season, the Missouri Valley Conference was on par with the lowest of the WCC years.
And Kentucky’s story in 2015, when they were the top rated team for the entire year, nearly ended right when conference play opened. They needed three overtimes combined to get through their first two conference games against Mississippi and Texas A&M. Then there were close calls against LSU, Florida, and Georgia along the way.
The point being going undefeated is by no means the easiest thing in the world. Especially considering the Zags already draw a level of vitriol in opposing WCC gyms unlike any other team in the conference, that foul plague is going to grow exponentially with each win.
Going undefeated would be exciting as all get out. But for now, the Zags stand at 13-0. To get to an undefeated regular season, they would need to finish 30-0. We aren’t even technically halfway through the season yet. So sorry Jeff, it is a bit too early to bring up the subject.