No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Texas faced stiff challenges at home Tuesday night, but both pulled away late to win.
Who will be the last undefeated team? That leads us to your questions.
Q: Ken, I see a lot of different talk about which unbeaten team will be the last to lose. One guy says Kentucky, another says Texas, and someone else thinks Kansas. Which team do you think it’ll be?
— Jason W., Minneapolis
A: To be honest, Jason, I hadn’t given this much thought until Monday. I was doing a little online reading and was stunned to learn that Kentucky isn’t going to lose a game this season — at least according to the Wildcats. Yep, that’s right, Kentucky is 12-0 and the players are already talking about an undefeated season. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that freshmen DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall “discussed the possibility” of an unbeaten season Saturday morning before beating Austin Peay. I guess the Wildcats don’t have much respect for their SEC brethren.
“We’ve got a real good chance,” Cousins was quoted as saying. “We think it’s pretty realistic,” Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson said. “If we continue to improve offensively and defensively, we believe an unbeaten season can happen.” Oddly enough, Patterson suggested Kansas and Texas should consider unbeaten seasons too. Since the Jayhawks and Longhorns meet Feb. 8 in Austin, that rules out the possibility for one of the Big 12 teams.
You asked what I think. If Syracuse gets past Seton Hall on Dec. 29, the Orange could face another undefeated team at West Virginia on Jan. 16. Of course, West Virginia would have to get past Purdue in a battle on unbeaten teams on Jan. 1. That game is at Purdue, so I think the Boilermakers are safe until Jan. 9 at Wisconsin.
Q: Hey college basketball expert, why is it no one is stating the obvious? The Big 12 is the best basketball conference in the land. They have the undefeated top two teams in the country, at this writing. K-State has one loss and is ranked. The conference is full of other good ball clubs. The Big East has four more teams, but the Big 12 is better. And it is pretty obvious.
— Steve Mahnken, Overland Park, Kan.
A: I’m not going to argue with you Steve. I think the Big 12 is the best conference this season. But give the media a little credit. I’ve read several pieces in the past two weeks, giving the Big 12 top billing. And most ESPN commentators are leaning that way too. I was convinced after talking to coaches and players at Big 12 media day in Kansas City in October. In my first column for NBCSports.com this season, I mentioned the Big 12 as one of my top storylines for the season.
The number of teams in a conference has nothing to do with it. I’m looking for depth and quality teams. Kansas and Texas have established themselves as the top two teams in the country. But Kansas State is off to a great start and will contend for the conference title. Texas Tech and Texas A&M have been pleasant surprises, Missouri and Oklahoma have been slight disappointments, but half the Big 12 is either undefeated or has just one loss. That’s impressive.
Q: With a good venue, good conference, and a reputable coach, why is Iowa not a good basketball program (not since Lute Olsen and Tom Davis)?
— D. Courtnage, Southport, N.C.
A: I think it’s safe to say Hawkeye fans will be relieved to see this decade end. If there was any hope for a sudden turnaround, they might even hold a party. But things aren’t going to get better at Iowa until coach Todd Lickliter gets some players — and we’re talking Big Ten level players who can help the Hawkeyes compete in that physical and talented conference.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Lickliter must feel cursed. Recently he was hospitalized in Iowa City after a procedure to repair a tear in his carotid artery. And now he has to deal with the suspension of sophomore Anthony Tucker, who was arrested for public intoxication Sunday morning. Lickliter is a good coach, but he needs a practice facility and he needs some players who take pride in themselves and the program they committed to. Until that happens, Iowa will find itself at the bottom of the conference.
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
CBT: Turning the page on the Mike Rice scandal, Rutgers hired Louisville's Julie Hermann as athletic director on Wednesday. But, Hermann has a prior scandal of her own.
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