Last unbeaten teams face a difficult week ahead

January 7, 2020

Auburn and San Diego State made it through the 2019 portion of the season unscathed, emerging as the only undefeated teams left in Division I.

Both top-10 teams will face what could be difficult tests to keep it that way.

The Tigers, who moved up three spots in The Associated Press poll to No. 5 this week, have conference games against Vanderbilt and Georgia.

Auburn (13-0, 1-0 SEC) won its conference opener against Mississippi State last week, but struggled shooting from the perimeter before J'Von McCormick took over on his way to scoring 28 points.

Vanderbilt was picked to finish last in the SEC under first-year coach Jerry Stackhouse, but has one of the nation's top scorers in Aaron Nesmith. A 6-foot-6 guard, he's averaging 23.4 points, fifth-best nationally, and 4.7 assists per game.

If he or guard Saben Lee, who averages 15.8 points, get hot, the Tigers could have their hands full.

They certainly will on Saturday, when Georgia and star freshman Anthony Edwards come to town.

Projected to be a lottery pick, Edwards is averaging 18.4 points per game and is capable of scoring in bunches, as he did with a 33-point second half against No. 8 Michigan State.

No. 7 San Diego State's challenge will be playing what may be the toughest road trip in the Mountain West Conference, to Laramie, Wyoming, and Boise, Idaho.

The stingy Aztecs (15-0, 4-0 MWC) picked up an impressive road win in their second game of 2020, ending Utah State's 15-game home winning streak with a 77-68 win in Logan.

Wyoming is 5-11, but four wins have come at home and the Cowboys have Hunter Maldonado, who averages 18.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Boise State has four players averaging double figures, led by Derrick Alston, Jr. with 19.9 points, and averages 78.4 points per game.


It's a big week in the Big 12.

No. 4 Baylor earned its highest ranking in three years by moving up two spots this week. The Bears' reward is a pair of road games against ranked opponents.

First is Tuesday's game against No. 22 Texas Tech, which is coming off a road win over Oklahoma State. Baylor gets four days after that to prepare for playing at one of college basketball's toughest road venues, Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse.

The third-ranked Jayhawks start their week by playing a tough road game against Iowa State.

Texas Tech also has a difficult week, facing No. 17 West Virginia and its relentless defensive pressure on Saturday.


The Big Ten has high-level match-ups every week and the top of the marquee this week features No. 11 Ohio State at No. 12 Maryland.

The Buckeyes climbed all the way to No. 2 a few weeks ago, but have dropped down the rankings after losing three of five.

The Terps followed a similar trend, falling from No. 3 after losing consecutive games, but bounced back with wins over Bryant and Indiana last week.

Both teams are loaded with talented players and looking to get on track, so expect this game to live up to the billing.


Two of the best teams in the West face off Thursday when No. 24 Arizona plays at No. 9 Oregon.

The Ducks reached No. 4 last week for the their highest ranking in three years, but dropped five places after losing to Colorado. Oregon bounced back with a road win at Utah.

The Wildcats limped into conference play with three losses in four games, but opened their Pac-12 season with a convincing win over rival Arizona State.

Keep an eye on the point guard matchup.

Oregon senior Payton Pritchard has been one of the Pac-12's best players the past few years and Arizona freshman Nico Mannion has quickly established himself among the best already.


The only other game between ranked teams should be a great mid-major match-up.

No. 21 Memphis may be without James Wiseman after the freshman left to prepare for the NBA draft, but Penny Hardaway's team still has plenty of talent.

No. 23 Wichita State appears to be back among the best mid-majors after a down year in 2018-19, its only loss coming against West Virginia in Cancun, Mexico.

This one should best fast, furious and high-scoring.


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