The last undefeated team in men’s college basketball was a long time ago. It came in 1976 with the Indiana Hoosiers. That is almost 50 years.
However, we have had close instances recently. Kentucky in 2015 made it all the way to the Final Four before losing their first game. Gonzaga were one win away last season, but couldn’t get the job done.
There has to be a reason for this feat not to be done in such a long period of time. Going undefeated is not easy, but 50 years is a long time. Teams have gotten close, but can’t finish the journey.
Something about going undefeated in college basketball seems almost impossible. The layoff since the last team is older than most of the fans today.
When will we see it again? Or is it a feat too hard to accomplish?
It is Too Hard, Especially Today
When Indiana went undefeated, the schedule was totally different for numerous reasons. They only played 32 games, whereas a team today would have to get to 39 games in a full season. Seven extra games can easily give any team a chance to take down the undefeated squad.
The lack of tournaments as well. Most of the top teams that would have a chance to go undefeated tend to play in a high level tournament early on in the season. Gonzaga played three top 12 teams within their first four games last season.
Then there is a conference tournament, which the 1976 Indiana team did not have to deal with. A team today would have to play the same opponent three times. Then there is the NCAA Tournament itself.
Back in 1976, the field was 32 teams. Today, there are 68 teams. It is extremely more difficult to win in today’s landscape than it was 50 years ago.
Can Anyone Accomplish it?
The team that always seems likely is Gonzaga. For two reasons; they have top level recruits join and they are in a weak conference. That is their biggest advantage to being able to go undefeated.
However, they do play tough competition in the beginning of the season. Once they get through that, it becomes smooth sailing until the tournament. That was the case last season, and it might be again this year.
Other teams in tougher conferences would have to put together an almost perfect team. That is what Kentucky did, but still ended up playing the wrong players at times. For instance, Devin Booker was on that team, but never started.
Everything needs to go perfect in order to achieve perfection. There is a chance Gonzaga can do it this year finally with the roster they have constructed, including the number one recruit in Chet Holmgren. However, the odds are for sure not in their favor.