Indiana lost. Again.
Thrice the Hoosiers have garnered the No. 1 ranking in Division I men’s college basketball this season and thrice they’ve lost. Each time to an unranked opponent. The latest defeat occurred Monday night at Minnesota.
Indiana remains a probable No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and their inability to be insuperable is by no means unique this season. Seven times already the top-ranked team in the country has lost. Instead of devoting this column to a faded and tattered theme of the 2012-2013 season – “There are no dominant teams in college basketball” – why not expand our horizons and find a squad that is? Dominant, I mean.
Of course, you could point to women’s college hoops, where Brittney Griner and Baylor are 27-1, their lone defeat a two-point loss to No. 4 Stanford in Hawaii in mid-November. The Lady Bears played the last 35 minutes of that contest minus All-American Odyssey Sims, their second-best player. I’m not about to disagree that Kim Mulkey’s squad is the most dominant team in college hoops. After all, they’ve won 67 of their last 68 games.
They are not, however, undefeated.
Hence, I poked around the rankings of Division I, II, and III men’s and women’s hoops to unearth the few remaining teams that are working on unblemished seasons. Most of these schools you have either never heard of or, if you are like me, are clueless as to where their campuses are located. So let’s give them a little attention right here, shall we?
Clayton State University
Who: Division II Women’s
What: 25-0 record, No. 1 ranked school in the nation
Where: Morrow, Ga.
The Lakers are led by five-foot-five senior guard Drameka Griggs who, despite starting just two games, is the team’s leader in both points (19.4), assists (3.6) and steals (3.7) per game. Griggs grew up just one town over from Clayton State’s suburban Atlanta campus. What Clayton State does best as a team, though, is block shots. The Lakers lead the nation in rejections (6.5 per game) despite not having a player taller than six-foot-two Shacamra Jackson (7th nationally in this stat).
The Lakers, who won by 48 points over the weekend, experienced their toughest game in their season-opening exhibition: a 59-57 win versus Emory.
Montclair State University
Who: Division III Women’s
What: 27-0 record, No. 1 ranked school in the Atlantic Region
Where: Montclair, N.J.
The Red Hawks’ five starters –Janitza Aquino, Shalette Brown, Nicosia Henry, Taylor Jeffers and Melissa Tobie—have missed a cumulative total of just one start amongst them. All five average between 9.7 and 14.6 points per game. In other words, this is a solid unit –with each class year represented within it – with no standout individuals. Head coach Karin Harvey, now in her sixth season, must love coaching this group.
As for dominant, the Red Hawks lead the nation in victory margin (28.4 ppg). They won one game by 70 points and no opponent has come within 13 points of them. Their forte? Speed and steals. Montclair State presses and leads the nation in thievery with 18.1 per contest.
Who: Division III Women’s
What: 28-0, No. 2 ranked school in the Great Lakes Region
Where: Greencastle, Indiana
The Tigers, the 2007 D-3 national champions, take care of the basketball and sink their long-range shots. DePauw leads the nation in three-point field-goal percentage (39.4%) and are No. 2 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.84). Like Montclair State, the Tigers go with five core starters –a combined three missed starts among the quintet – and no single player is dominant, although we do think that sophomore guard Savannah Trees has one of the better names in the game. It’s Baylor-worthy.
So that’s it. Three remaining unbeatens, all of them from the distaff side, as the calendar turns from February to March. We’ll keep you undated to see how many are remaining –at most, two, of course – as the NCAA tournaments get underway.