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Conference unbeaten catch-up: Who remains perfect in their league?

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Norfolk State -- you remember them from last year, right? -- hasn't lost in the MEAC yet this season. (US Presswire)

It's been two weeks since we last, and first, looked at which teams had gone through more than a month's worth of league games without a loss. Now, as we officially turn to late February, who can see the regular season's undefeated finish line?

As of early February, 13 teams from 10 leagues had gotten through the first half of the gauntlet without taking an L. Since then, yep, that number has not only shrunk, it's essentially been cut in half. Six teams from six leagues remain undinged. Here's who's been felled in the past 14 days.

-- Florida lost 80-69 at Arkansas on Feb. 5
-- Southern Miss lost 60-58 at Central Florida on Feb. 6
-- Belmont lost 79-74 at Murray State on Feb. 7
-- Montana lost 87-63 at Weber State on Feb. 14
-- North Carolina Central lost 44-36 at Savannah State on Feb. 16

What's interesting about the teams mentioned above: The top three teams (Florida, Belmont, North Carolina Central), in terms of best odds to win their league, all lost. I didn't initially count the Ivy's two unbeatens (Harvard and Princeton) with the rest of the group because the Ivy League's conference season starts so much later than the others, since it's a 14-game round-robin. No matter; the Crimson and Tigers have both taken a loss, so off they go.

As a reminder, in the past five years, here are the teams that have gone unbeaten in league competition.

2008: Cornell (Ivy)

2009: Memphis (Conference USA), Gonzaga (West Coast)

2010: Butler (Horizon)

2012: Kentucky (SEC)

Now, the six left standing in the standings. Who will be here when we convene again two weeks from now? I'll say two teams: Gonzaga, Norfolk State. KenPom.com percentages indicate the team's chances of going undefeated the rest of the way.

TeamConf. recordOverallKenPom %Outlook
12-025-263.3Up from 26.3-percent chance. That's a huge jump. The biggest WCC test was V-Day at Saint Mary's. Now it's three home games and one road -- at BYU -- left for the Bulldogs. Considering this is probably Mark Few's best team, you have to like the chances.
11-022-329.2Up from 2.7, and yes, it's the Tigers who are the only team to leapfrog anyone else amid this group. What a push, but that goes to show the weakness of C-USA, in the midst of one of its worst seasons ever. That said, roadies at UCF and UTEP, back to back, are tricky.
12-021-428.8Up from 25.1. Yeah, not a big jump for the Zips, who won vs. Ohio but have to play the 19-6/10-1 in the MAC Bobcats at their place next Wednesday. Plus, pressure's now on, as Akron's got a nation's-best 17-game winning streak. That's gotta snap soon, yeah?
12-017-1027.3Norfolk State is up from 8.5, and if it wins Saturday at Delaware State (12-13), three home games against three really bad teams remain the rest of the way. I'd have to put it at 50/50, at worst, if NSU wins this weekend.
12-021-317.7Up from 5.9. The Story of the Year rolls on in Coral Gables. Miami is off to its best ACC start in history, but again, the road game at Duke on March 2 is probably too tough a task. Still, it's nearly unfathomable to realize Miami could be a one-loss team in the ACC as is.
14-023-37.9Up from 3.4. The Bulldogs are 10-0 in the WAC but have their two toughest games -- at NMSU, at Denver -- at the end of the season. That's why the percentage remains so shallow.

If any of these teams do wind up undefeated in their league, I'll be supplying you with a recent historical look at what to expect in terms of tournament victories. If Miami runs the ACC table, the precedent for tournament after the accomplishment is here. (Take 2012 Kentucky into account as well, of course.)

Let's go to the opposite. Who still can't buy a win? Grambling State is on the verge of history, sadly. But the good news: There are just two teams left that have not yet been able to get a conference W. Surprisingly, one of them is from a major conference. Unfortunately, we no longer can see the rare unbeaten/winless dual conference endgame. The last time this happened was Memphis and Rice splitting the difference in C-USA in 2008.

Here's who's gotten off the schnide in the past two weeks:

-- TCU won 62-55 vs. Kansas on Feb. 6
-- Lamar won 67-63 at Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Feb. 7
-- Old Dominion won 78-66 at Drexel on Feb. 7
-- Longwood won 62-56 at Winthrop on Feb. 9
-- Duquesne won 84-83 at Temple on Feb. 14
-- South Carolina State won 72-70 vs. North Carolina A&T on Feb. 16

What do you notice about those wins? Most of them came on the road. Surprising and neat.

The poor pair:

TeamConf. recordOverallKenPom %Analysis
0-140-2383.2Chances of going winless in the SWAC/overall are up from 69.4. Two road games this week for the Tigers, then two home to end the season. KenPom gives the best chance at a victory on Feb. 8, home against Alabama A&M -- 8 freaking percent. It's sad and curious and oddly fixating.
0-138-1761.0Penn State's chances are up from 25.2. Pat Chambers is coaching them as best he can, but it's just so bleak. Only two home games remain -- and they're against Michigan and Wisconsin.

This twist of good news is that this year won't be a duplicate of 2012. We won't have so many leagues left with a winless club. Here's what recent history's played out to be.

  • 2008: Colorado State (Mountain West), Oregon State (Pac-10), Rice (Conference USA)
    2009: Air Force (Mountain West), DePaul (Big East), Southeast Missouri State (Ohio Valley)
    2010: Fordham (Atlantic 10)
    2011: Towson (Colonial)
    2012: Kennesaw State (Atlantic Sun), Navy (Patriot) Tennessee Martin (Ohio Valley), Santa Clara (West Coast), South Carolina State (MEAC)

For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to the thrice-a-week podcast on iTunes. You can follow Matt Norlander on Twitter here: @MattNorlander.

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