Weekly Wrap: Unbeatens won’t last

There are six undefeated teams left and before fans in Lawrence,

Austin, Lexington, Morgantown, Syracuse and West Lafayette start to

mention

that word — you know the one — it

starts with the letter “U,” let me point something out:

The half-dozen unbeaten D-I teams have played a grand total

of six true road games between them.

The only team that has won two legitimate road contests is

West Virginia, which knocked off Cleveland State on a last-second

shot and needed overtime to beat Seton Hall this past weekend.

Syracuse hasn’t beaten anyone in the other team’s

arena yet. No one. The Orange knocked off Florida — a

team that has now lost to Richmond and South Alabama —

in Tampa.

Texas’ lone true road win came at Rice, Kansas’

lone victory in an opponent’s home gym came against a dismal UCLA

team, Purdue went to Tuscaloosa for a true road contest against

Alabama and beat the Crimson Tide in the same place where they lost

to Cornell earlier this season.

A year ago at the same time, there were seven teams left

without a blemish. North Carolina, UConn, Oklahoma and Minnesota

went down this week a year ago, followed by Pittsburgh, Clemson and

finally Wake Forest on Jan. 21.

That’s what happens when league play begins and teams

don’t have a bunch of buy games and cupcakes on their

schedule.

The unbeatens fall by the wayside.

Here’s our best guess as to when the Final Six will

each lose their first game:

Syracuse — Tuesday at Seton Hall

West Virginia — Jan. 1 at Purdue

Texas — Jan. 5 at Arkansas

Purdue — Jan. 9 at Wisconsin

Kansas — Jan. 10 at Tennessee

Kentucky — Jan. 12 at Florida

TEAM OF THE WEEK: USC lost to Loyola Marymount in

the second game of the season, but Kevin O’Neill’s team

was shorthanded and without Mike Gerrity, Alex Stepheson, Marcus

Johnson and Leonard Washington. With all four in the lineup, the

Trojans knocked off both UNLV and Saint Mary’s out in Hawaii

this past week and established themselves as a legitimate Pac-10

title contender.

STUD (PLAYER OF WEEK): West Virginia’s Devin

Ebanks missed the first three games due to personal issues, but the

long and talented Mountaineers sophomore has started to hit his

stride. Ebanks had 14 points and 13 boards in a win against Ole

Miss and then went for 22 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists in

a road win against Seton Hall.

DUD: Tulsa went into the season as the preseason

favorites in Conference USA and the Golden Hurricanes came into the

Las Vegas Classic with a 9-1 record. However, Tulsa lost to

Nebraska, 74-70, and then took a pounding from Nevada, 99-68, in

the consolation game.

MID-MAJOR TEAM OF THE WEEK: Jimmy Patsos’

Loyola Greyhounds had lost three straight games — all on

the road — to Canisius, Niagara and Coppin State.

However, Loyola went into Bloomington and knocked off the Indiana

Hoosiers. Tom Crean’s team is still a work in progress, but

it shouldn’t be losing at Assembly Hall to Loyola (Md.).

GAME OF THE WEEK: Seton Hall coming back from a

10-point deficit with less than a minute left to force overtime

against unbeaten West Virginia. Bobby Gonzalez’ team came up

short in the extra frame, but this was an exciting Big East opener

and hopefully a sign of what’s to come in league play. Jeremy

Hazell had 41 points for the Pirates in the losing effort.

SLIP SLIDING: The Florida Gators put themselves in

a quality position to earn an NCAA tournament bid for the first

time in three years with wins against Florida State and Michigan

State. However, Billy Donovan’s team has dropped three

straight. There’s no shame in losing to Syracuse and maybe

even Richmond, but then to drop one to South Alabama this past week

in Gainesville? That hurts.

WORST LOSS: Texas A&M was one of the

nation’s early season surprises, but the Aggies have lost

their senior leader, Derrick Roland, who suffered a gruesome knee

injury in the loss to Washington. Roland broke his fibula and tibia

and will miss the rest of the season after surgery.

OVERLOOKED LOSS: South Carolina’s NCAA

tournament hopes may have been dashed with the news that versatile

forward Dominique Archie is done for the season due to a knee

injury. Archie was averaging 14.4 points and six boards in five

games.

MILESTONE: Kentucky became the first program to

win 2,000 games when the Wildcats beat up on Drexel, 88-44, earlier

in the week. North Carolina will surpass the 2,000-win barrier

later this season.

FINALLY: Missouri finally has Braggin’

Rights after the Tigers got their first win in a decade against

Illinois. Kimmie English led Mizzou with 24 points and six rebounds

in the victory.

WEEK’S TOP MATCHUPS:

1. Louisville at Kentucky, Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

ET: Rick Pitino vs. John Calipari in a battle of coaches

that don’t like one another. Pitino returns to Lexington,

where he was once beloved. Now, the fans will likely be relentless,

especially with what he endured this past offseason.

2. West Virginia at Purdue, Friday at 2:30 p.m.

ET: It’s a terrific matchup of unbeatens. Both have

point guard issues, but have almost everything else to get to the

Final Four.

3. Kansas at Temple, Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET:

This will be the Jayhawks’ most difficult test to date. Remember,

the Owls knocked off Villanova earlier this season at home and are

a top 25 team.

4. Clemson at Duke, Sunday at 7:45 p.m. ET: The

Blue Devils had Clemson’s number, but Oliver Purnell &

Co. have fared well lately against Coach K and Duke.

5. Syracuse at Seton Hall, Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET:

Bobby Gonzalez & Co. took West Virginia to overtime in Newark.

Can Seton Hall pull off the upset against the second straight

unbeaten to come into the Prudential Center?

6. Dayton at New Mexico, Friday at 9 p.m. ET: The

Flyers will go into one of the most difficult arenas in the

country — The Pit. It’s a matchup of two top 25

teams.