- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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A lot of fans have been visiting me at The Broken Egg, talking about the possibility of a team going unbeaten this season.
My friends, we are only in January! There is a lot of basketball to be played. Fans from Texas and Kentucky are dreaming big. Look at what happened to Kansas at Tennessee and to Purdue at Wisconsin over the weekend. Just two unbeatens are left after the Jayhawks and Boilermakers lost. Let's be patient, because it is a little early for talk of an undefeated season.
I can guarantee you that Texas' Rick Barnes and Kentucky's John Calipari are not talking about a perfect season. These coaches know what is ahead in league competition.
There is also the matter of the 3-point shot. That is the great equalizer in college basketball. It has created a scenario where upsets happen more often. A team can get hot from beyond the arc to create shock city, baby! It has revolutionized the game.
The last team to go through the regular season and the Big Dance with a goose egg in the loss column was Indiana in 1976. That team was led by ESPN's own General, Robert Montgomery Knight. It is so difficult to do now.
There have been seven teams in the history of Division I that won the NCAA tournament and finished with a perfect record. The Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden, had the remarkable feat of accomplishing it four times with the Bruins of UCLA.
Remember, years ago, coach Wooden talked about how you had to have a team capable of beating an opponent with all types of styles. You needed to be able to beat one club with quickness and another with power, to defeat a physical opponent and a team with good ballhandlers.
The bottom line is you need a team with versatility to make any kind of run at a perfect season. Your squad has to have a lot of parts competing as a whole unit.
I will be shocked if either of the two remaining unbeatens can run the table this season. That is not a knock of them. I think it is too difficult a task. There is so much intensity and emotion when an unbeaten club goes on the road. They have that bulls-eye on their back. Just look at what Kansas faced against an undermanned but determined Tennessee team in Knoxville on Sunday. Over 20,000 fans provided an emotional lift which resulted in shock city.
As I enter the final chapter of my life, I don't believe we will see another Division I college basketball team go unblemished a la the Hoosiers of 1976. I don't see it happening in my lifetime; maybe it will happen after that.