Syracuse (10-0): ‘Cuse has a great resume with wins over Florida, Stanford, Virginia Tech and Marshall. All they have left on their ooc schedule is NC State – and if they can get past the Wolfpack then they’ll enter Big East play undefeated. Their problem is that they don’t get to the line. Currently they’re 294th nationally. Last year Kris Joseph drew 5 fouls per 40 minutes, but this year is down to 4.
Marquette (9-0): Marquette’s signature win is over intra-state rival Wisconsin, and they’ve added wins against Washington and Mississippi. Assuming they get by LSU, the only real test left ooc is Vanderbilt, who now has Festus Ezeli back. The issue with the Golden Eagles is the number of offensive boards they allow, as they are currently 243rd nationally.
Missouri (9-0): Mizzou has decent wins over Cal, Villanova and Notre Dame. On the 22nd they have a huge showdown with fellow undefeated Illinois. After that it’s ODU and then conference play. Frank Haith’s team doesn’t have much size though, and his only real shot blocker plays 16 minutes a game. They currently 224th in blocked shots, and are ripe to be taken advantage of by a team with elite size. Illinois’s 7’1 center Meyers Leonard might be the player to do it.
Louisville (9-0): The Cardinals don’t have the greatest resume but they do have wins against Vandy (without Ezeli), Long Beach State and Ohio. Next Saturday they’ll get Memphis and a chance for a signature win. Then they’ll have a New Years Eve game with Kentucky. Luckily for Louisville their biggest problem is fixable. Right now, they can’t make threes and are 223rd nationally. But Kyle Kuric is a 41% career shooter who is under 33% at the moment.
Indiana (9-0): The Hoosiers have their huge win against Kentukcy, and another decent win against NC State. All they have left before conference play is Notre Dame. Basically, all their eggs were in the Kentucky basket, and they came out ahead. Their problem is with offensive rebounds. 241st in the nation isn’t a recipe for March dominance.
Xavier (8-0): The Muskateers have wins over Vanderbilt (sans Ezeli), Purdue and Cincinnati. They have a solid ooc schedule left with Oral Roberts, Long Beach State and Gonzaga. It would be easy to say something snippy considering yesterday’s disaster, but Xavier’s real weakness is that they’re horrible from the line. They are 263rd in the country, and at some point a team is going to send the right players to the line in an end-game situation and steal a game from Xavier.
Baylor (7-0): The Bears have been flying under the radar to this point. They’ve played Northwestern and San Diego State, and have BYU, Saint Mary’s, West Virginia and Mississippi State left. Somewhere in that stretch their failure to value possessions is going to hurt them. Baylor is 216th in turnovers (which is certainly better than last season’s 322nd).
Illinois (9-0): Illinois has played a relatively soft schedule to date, and has wins over Gonzaga, Richmond and St Bonaventure. If they can get by UNLV they’re in good shape to enter their showdown with Mizzou undefeated. Bruce Weber’s team needs to find some outside threats, as they’re 236th in 3-pt%. If DJ Richardson and Sam Maniscalco go cold on the same night, they could be looking at a loss.
Murray State (9-0): The Racers have a double-overtime win against Southern Mississippi and a solid win at home over Dayton. Tonight’s Memphis game will decide if they can make it to conference play without a loss, and if they get by the Tigers they stand a decent chance of running the table. They’ll at least be the favorite in every remaining game. The problem is a complete lack of interior defense. Opponents are shooting 55.1% on 2s, which is 328th nationally. Memphis is 41st at making them, which spells trouble.