Syracuse should be 17-0 when the Orange visit Louisville Jan. 19.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Eight days ‘til Christmas, one for every unbeaten team left in college basketball -- after a weekend when the Indiana, Florida and Eastern Kentucky ornaments were knocked off the tree.
Who will be the last unbeaten?
I'm glad you asked. Time to rank the contenders:
1. Syracuse – Jim Boeheim will get win 900 tonight against Detroit – and then he is likely to get another round of questions about what his best player and steals leader (Michael Carter-Williams) was doing last week at a local Lord & Taylor.
Check that Boeheim picture. He's already preparing his response to this story -- http://bit.ly/12vlogQ -- by Mike Waters at Syracuse.com.
The Orange should be 17-0 when they visit Louisville Jan. 19 – and Boeheim and Rick Pitino can resume their conversation from Big East Media Day about which guy is full of more baloney now that they're both leaving the league.
2. Michigan – Trey Burke is playing like Allen Iverson Lite, so I wouldn't expect the Wolverines to stumble until Jan. 13. That's a game at Ohio State. That's Burke vs. Buckeyes' uber defender Aaron Craft. That's Must-See TV. That's the next potential loss for John Beilein's squad.
3. Duke – You won't enjoy hearing this, but somebody has to say it: Not only do the Blue Devils have the best resume in the group, nobody should expect them to even cough until a Jan. 12 trip to North Carolina State -- and I wouldn't count on that.
4. Arizona – The beauty of the Pac-12 is that the league still schedules the way it did when it was the Pac-8. That means Thursday-Saturday road trips. Arizona gets one to Oregon and then Oregon State, Jan. 10-12. Bye, bye perfection.
5. Illinois – Even if the Illini survive a rivalry meeting with Missouri in St. Louis Saturday, they begin Big Ten play with four consecutive games in which they will be the underdog, according to Ken Pomeroy's web site.
6. Cincinnati – I'm fighting the urge to make any brawl jokes, but taking it on the chin. The Bearcats could take a 10-count Wednesday against Xavier – and then they figure to stagger during a trip to Pittsburgh on New Year's Eve. TKO.
7. New Mexico – It must be Rivalry Week. Steve Alford's Lobos visit New Mexico State Wednesday. Even if they win, Alford has booked his team for a rugged Midwest Homecoming to Cincinnati (Dec. 27) and Saint Louis (Dec. 31).
8. Wyoming – I should move the Cowboys higher on the list because they only play two games before Jan. 2 – and they'll be favored to win both of them. But, hey, it's Wyoming basketball, and I didn't want to lose every reader.
*I took the results from three computer formulas – Jeff Sagarin, Ken Pomeroy and Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) – and created this consensus college basketball Top 10:
*A final item from Indiana's 88-86 loss to Butler Saturday: Backcourt size is a defensive dilemma for this IU team. Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell are both listed at 6 feet.
Even if that is accurate, that's still undersized for a college backcourt. Taking them to the basket will be in the opening line of every opposing scouting report.
IU coach Tom Crean had a decision to make while settling on his defensive assignments against the Bulldogs:
Victor Oladipo is clearly Indiana's best defender. Crean could use him on Rotnei Clarke, Butler's best shooter, or Roosevelt Jones, the Bulldogs' muscular, but undersized power forward.
Crean chose Clarke – and Oladipo did a remarkable job, especially in the first half when Clarke made one field goal when Oladipo was in the game.
But that created a mismatch opportunity for Jones, who punished the Hoosiers with 17 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and two steals because of his bulk and size.
*Former University of Louisville offensive coordinator Mike Sanford continues his career bounce-back after his 2011 mid-season firing by Charlie Strong.
This season Sanford served as the offensive coordinator for the Utah State team that finished an 11-2 season by routing Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Saturday. Sanford's offense ranked 23rd nationally in total offense, averaging 469 yards.
On Monday, Sanford takes over at Indiana State, the improving FCS program in Terre Haute. The Sycamores were once The Worst Program in the nation, but enjoyed three straight winning seasons under Trent Miles, who has replaced Bill Curry at Georgia State.
Enter Sanford, who disappeared quietly after his mid-season dismissal in 2011.
"My job is to come in to do everything I can to push and place extremely high expectations and demands to win the Missouri Valley Conference and to win a national championship," Sanford told the Terre Haute Star.
Terre Haute is about three hours from Louisville. Expect to see Sanford recruit the local area.
*Former U of L center Terrence Jennings had his best game in the NBA Developmental League Saturday, scoring 17 points for the Iowa Energy. Over seven games, Jennings is averaging six points and five rebounds. He has yet to make his first start.
I'll predict that Jennings eventually makes it to The League because of his ability to block shots, although he has only swatted four in seven games. I guess that's why Jennings is in the D-League.