LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – We’ve officially moved into a Baker Mayfield-free zone for several weeks. Let’s be thankful for that.

Half of the Top 10 in the AP college basketball poll took losses last week. Is anybody the NCAA Tournament favorite?

The University of Louisville prepares for another session with the appeals division of the NCAA Committee of Infractions. Is the process ever going to end?

It’s OK to start disliking the New York Yankees again. It’s OK to start disliking Bobby Hurley again. It’s OK to start wondering if the NFL realizes that head injuries are a serious concern.

But, most of all, it’s time to welcome The Monday Muse.

1. Who Will Be The Last Unbeaten?

Unbeaten teams have become tougher to find than pay phones (ask your great-grandmother to explain a pay phone) in college basketball. They exist. But you have to search.

We’ve barely started conference play in the Big Ten and ACC. The nastiest rivalry games have not been played. Only seven unbeatens remain. When ACC play opened with the team picked to finish 14th (Boston College) upsetting the pre-season favorite (Duke), you understand nobody will join the 1976 Indiana NCAA champions in the unbeaten club this season.

But with the unbeaten list already sliced and diced to seven, it’s time to examine the candidates, listed in order of their Ken Pomeroy’s latest power formula rankings.

A. Villanova – Most of the important pieces from Jay Wright’s 2016 NCAA champs are gone, but the Wildcats still look like the class of the Big East. Guard Jalen Brunson is one of the nation’s best.

Best Win: 88-72 over Gonzaga.

Closest Call: 8 points over Western Kentucky

Pomeroy Unbeaten Probability: 1.1 percent

Likely First Loss: at Xavier Feb. 17.

B. Miami – The Hurricanes have shrugged off the distraction of the FBI investigation, remained committed to coach Jim Larranaga and handled a mostly favorable schedule because of two studs – guard Bruce Brown and forward Dewan Huell.

Best Win: 86-81 at Minnesota

Closest Call: Minnesota

Pomeroy Unbeaten Probability: 0.01 percent

Likely First Loss: At Clemson Jan. 13

C. TCU – Jamie Dixon is recognized more for his defense than offense, but the Horned Frogs rank 12th in Pomeroy’s offensive efficiency metrics. The guy has won at Pitt and TCU, hardly the garden spots of college hoops.

Best Win: 94-83 over SMU

Closest Call: 4 points over Nevada

Pomeroy Unbeaten Probability: 0.00 percent

Likely First Loss: At Baylor Jan. 2

D. Florida State – Leonard Hamilton, the former Joe B. Hall assistant at Kentucky, is 69 and keeps going and going and going. Good for Leonard.

Best Win: 83-66 at Florida

Closest Call: 5 points over Rutgers

Pomeroy Unbeaten Probability: 0.00 percent

Likely First Loss: At Duke Dec. 30

E. Arizona State – Take a look at the latest AP Top 25 poll. Bobby Hurley’s team earned five first-place votes after winning at Kansas Sunday.

Best Win: 95-85 at Kansas

Closest Call: 2 points over Kansas State

Pomeroy Unbeaten Probability: 0.04 percent

Likely First Loss: At Arizona Dec. 30

F. Mississippi State – Nothing to see here. The Bulldogs have played one of the 20 worst schedules in the country – and are hours from exiting this list.

Best Win: 59-56 over Jacksonville State

Closest Call: 2 points over Dayton

Pomeroy Unbeaten Probability: 0.00 percent

Likely First Loss: At Cincinnati Tuesday.

G. Georgetown – Patrick Ewing cooked up a schedule that would make Jim Boeheim blush. (See item 6.)

Best Win: 82-76 over Richmond

Closest Call: Richmond

Pomeroy Unbeaten Probability: 0.00 percent

Likely First Loss: Syracuse Saturday

2. Another Take on the National Scene

Interesting tidbit from Eli Boettger, who writes about Mountain West Basketball for the Mountain West Wire. He posted this Tweet Saturday. Consider it a public service announcement to remember to take a deeper look at non-conference records. All credentials are not created equal.
 

3. Is Bobby Hurley the Next Coach K?

Forget Duke’s botched visit to Boston College Saturday. It’s reasonable to suggest things have never been better for Mike Krzyzewski, especially if he ever gets around to making his teams to defend again.

He’s got one of the best teams in America. Certainly the most talented. He’s healthy after a summer surgery. He’s recruiting the best and the brightest, guys (Marvin Bagley Jr.) who can skip their senior season of high school and earn admission to a challenging school like Duke.

Everybody is still chasing Duke in multiple important categories. When Coach K coughs, college basketball scrambles to find a Kleenex.

But Coach K will turn 71 in January. It’s taken him more than three decades to get his five national titles. Chances are he will not be able to double that total and catch John Wooden. One day the Krzyzewskiville tent will come down in Durham.

When it does, who gets the job?

A year ago the wise money was on Chris Collins. He put Northwestern in the NCAA Tournament for the first time after years of working as Coach K’s top assistant.

Slow down. Northwestern has wobbled to four defeats in nine games under the weight of greater expectations this season.

There will always be votes for Johnny Dawkins. He was Coach K’s first great player, had a solid NBA career and learned from him as an assistant. But his record at Stanford and Central Florida has produced more shrugs than high fives.

Hurley serves as the Flavor of the Month. After doing excellent work at Buffalo, Hurley has Arizona State trending toward glory in Year Three. The Sun Devils have raced to wins in their first nine games and should make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.

Hurley grew up in the gym, learning from his father, Bob, a legendary prep coach in New Jersey. He’s a former first-round NBA pick, whose career was derailed by a terrible automobile accident. That gives him credibility as a player and coach.

Unlike Collins, Dawkins and others, Hurley never served as a Duke assistant. But if ASU keeps winning, that won’t matter.

4. Pitino vs. Coach K Coaching Tree Update

Rick Pitino and Krzyzewski had many ferocious battles, with little treats like NCAA Final Fours on the line. There will be no Pitino vs. Krzyzewski matchup this season. But the competition rages.

It’s interesting to compare the performances of their coaching trees. This season, the advantage goes to Pitino. Six former Pitino assistant coaches have teams ranked in Pomeroy’s Top 100 while Coach K has five.

The Scorecard

Pitino Tree

Mick Cronin, Cincinnati #13

Kevin Willard, Seton Hall #16

David Padgett, Louisville #28

Richard Pitino, Minnesota #35

Marvin Menzies, UNLV #74

Kevin Keatts. North Carolina State #77

Coach K Tree

Mike Brey, Notre Dame #18

Bobby Hurley, Arizona State #36

Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette #53

Chris Collins, Northwestern #58

Johnny Dawkins, UCF #75

Slight edge to Pitino.

5. Who’s Patrick Ewing Fooling?

I’m glad Patrick Ewing finally earned his opportunity as a head coach. Too many NBA teams turned him down.

I hope that Ewing makes Georgetown a national name in college basketball again. The Big East could use a bump from the Hoyas. Hoya Paranoia was an acquired taste, a guaranteed enemy that helped TV ratings.

But somebody better tell Ewing he deserves multiple technical fouls for the schedule the Hoyas have played through the first eight games:

Seven of Georgetown’s first eight opponents are not ranked in Pomeroy’s Top 300. None are ranked in the Top 200. That is an NCAA record for cowardly scheduling.

The Hoyas have played three of the 12 worst teams in the nation – Maryland Eastern Shore, Coppin State and Howard.

There is a reason Pomeroy continues to project Georgetown will finish 5-13 in the Big East, edging only DePaul in the standings.

C’mon, Patrick. Schedule like you played – with an edge.

6. The Victor Oladipo Show

The Indiana Pacers were the NBA’s punching bag last summer when Paul George, the team’s lone all-star, wiped away the team’s bargaining power by announcing he had no plans to re-sign with the Pacers when George became a free agent in 2018.

The Pacers had to deal George – and everybody knew it.

There were rumors that George was bound for Cleveland. Or Boston. Or the Lakers, which was expected to become his final destination in 2018.

Indiana ignored the chatter and sent George to Oklahoma City.

What did they receive in return? Russell Westbrook? Steven Adams? Three pairs of used Kevin Durant socks?

Less than that: Former Indiana star Victor Oladipo and Gonzaga product Domantas Sabonis.

There have probably been more one-sided NBA deals, but I can’t name one.

Turns out it was the Pacers who fleeced the Thunder.

Oladipo and Sabonis out-performing George. Oladipo ranks 10th in the league in scoring at 24.5 per game. Credit Sabonis with 12.1 points and 8.5 rebounds. George has averaged 20.7 for OKC.

Even better: The Pacers are out-playing the Thunder.

A year ago Indiana won 13 of its first 27 games. This season they’re 16-11 after defeating Cleveland and Denver over the weekend. Oladipo scored a career best 47 points (and Sabonis added 14) as they rallied to defeat Denver.

As for OKC?

They’re last in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference, losers of 13 of 25 games. A year ago the Thunder stared 15-10.

7. One Vote for Cousins, One Vote Against Harrison

There’s always ample noise during the NBA season – and last week two former Kentucky players were in the middle of it, refusing to retreat a millimeter against two of the league’s biggest stars.

First there was DeMarcus Cousins, going syllable for syllable against Kevin Durant, during an incident that led to the ejection of both players. The situation got so heated that Cousins was intercepted in an arena hallway trying to get to Durant in the locker room.

I get that one. Both guys are all stars. It’s turf protection.

But Andrew Harrison has work to do to go toe-to-toe with Russell Westbrook, the league’s reigning MVP.

Apparently Harrison does not view the situation that way. He blocked a Westbrook jump shot to send the Grizzlies-Thunder game into overtime – and then celebrated by staring down one of the NBA’s biggest egos.

How did Westbrook react?

Not by sending him a Christmas card. After Oklahoma City won the game in overtime, Westbrook had a two-word message for Harrison:

Go home.

Nothing quite like the holiday season.

8. A Michigan Man Rips Harbaugh

In three seasons at Michigan, Jim Harbaugh has been unable to beat Urban Meyer and Ohio State.

OK. That happens – even though Iowa showed it could be done this season.

In three seasons in Ann Arbor, Harbaugh has also lost twice to Mark Dantonio and Michigan State. That should not happen.

So maybe it is not surprising that at least one Michigan man – former Wolverines’ receiver Amani Toomer – called out Harbaugh last week when he was asked about the possibility of Harbaugh becoming the next coach of the New York Giants. (The link.)

Harbaugh called out Dantonio last week. I expect him to respond to Toomer.

9. Who Made This NFL Call?

In case NFL coaches and executives missed the memo, there is increased concern about head injuries in football. They’re not acceptable.

We have officially moved on from the point where guys joke about seeing stars after a blow to the head or when coaches tell a player to shake off a concussion and get back in the game.

Except in Houston on Sunday.

If you saw the video of Texas quarterback Tom Savage twitching on the ground after he was flattened, that was awful.

But what was worse is that Savage was back in the game minutes later.

Somebody in Houston has some explaining to do.

10. Poll Results

Which team should be ranked Number One in college basketball this week?

Villanova 45 percent

Michigan State 30 percent

Arizona State 18 percent

North Carolina 8 percent

Still time to vote, by clicking this link. 

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