It will be a very merry Christmas for the Michigan basketball team, which hasn’t lost a game this season.
The Wolverines beat Air Force on Saturday to improve to 12-0. Through Sunday’s games, Michigan is among just five Division I programs without a loss.
Might Michigan be the last undefeated team standing?
After several previously-unbeaten teams took losses in the past several days, Michigan’s competition includes Virginia, Nevada, Houston, and St. John’s.
Michigan hosts Binghamton on Sunday before resuming Big Ten play against Penn State, Indiana, Illinois, and Northwestern, with only the Illinois game on the road., which projects scores for every game, believes, as of Sunday night, that Michigan should win each of those. The website predicts the Indiana game will be the most competitive, projecting a nine-point Michigan win and giving the Wolverines a 77 percent chance at victory.
Should that scenario play out, the Wolverines would be 17-0 — a record start for the program — when they wake up on Jan 19. Michigan plays at Wisconsin that afternoon in a game that, currently, KenPom predicts Wisconsin will win by two.
Virginia’s upcoming schedule is slightly tougher. The Cavaliers host Marshall and Florida State, visit Boston College and Clemson, and host Virginia Tech before going to Duke on Jan. 19. Like Michigan, Virginia is expected to win its next five games, but the Clemson game is at 65 percent and Virginia Tech is at 72 percent. KenPom gives Virginia just a 28 percent chance to win at Duke.
St. John’s, unranked in the polls entering Monday, will likely be an underdog in its next game, Saturday at Seton Hall. KenPom views the Red Storm’s following two games — vs. Marquette and at Georgetown — as virtual tossups.
Houston has at least an 82 percent chance of winning individual games against NJIT, Tulsa, and Memphis, all at home. But road trips to Temple (Jan. 9) and SMU (Jan. 16) could go either way.
That leaves Nevada, which has won nonconference games against Loyola Chicago, USC, and Arizona State, all away from home. While KenPom projects two losses for Nevada in the regular season, the website does not predict a loss in any specific game. The sixth-ranked Wolfpack have at least an 82 percent chance of winning each of the their next four games. That dips to 67 percent for a Jan. 12 game at Fresno State. After that, Nevada’s opponents through Feb. 19 are currently ranked no better than 130 on KenPom.
On paper, Michigan has a decent chance of outlasting St. John’s, Houston, and Virginia. But Nevada’s schedule is more favorable. The Big Ten is ranked by KenPom as the second best conference so far. Nevada’s league, the Mountain West, is ranked 11th.
Being the last team to lose is a novelty more than anything, much like getting to No. 1 in the AP poll — another feat Michigan has a shot at obtaining. It’s not something the team, at least not the coaches, will pay much attention to.
But it would be the result of something that the program certainly does care about: winning.