The Final Five

Most college basketball fans intuitively understand win shares. Football guys freak out when their team loses, whereas basketball guys understand that teams lose. Arizona, for example, is projected to be favored in every remaining game, but that doesn't mean they'll go undefeated. In fact, the odds are overwhelmingly against them going undefeated in the regular season.

A 15-point favorite is going to win roughly 90% of the time. So if a team played 10 straight games in which they were 15-point favorites, the odds are that they would go 9-1. It's just math.

Those are win shares. Teams lose.

Coming out of the Christmas break, five of 347 Division I teams have yet to suffer a loss: Duke, Michigan, Arizona, Cincinnati, and Wyoming. They're a combined 59-0.

Over the past few weeks I've been using win shares to track the undefeated teams. The Florida Gators were the most likely to go undefeated, but they were beaten by Arizona and then Kansas State. So who is the new leader?

Here's the chart of the remaining five. Odds were taken from for every remaining game, and win shares were calculated. The 'underdog ?' column shows how many games each team is projected to be the underdog, while the rest of the columns are self explanatory.

Team Remaining Games Underdog? % Perfect Win Share Record
Duke 20 0 8.4% 29-2
Michigan 19 4 0.06% 26-5
Arizona 18 0 2.0% 27-3
Cincinnati 19 5 0.0% 24-7
Wyoming 18 5 0.01% 23-7

Now Duke is approaching a 10% chance to get through the regular season unscathed, which is the highest % for any team so far this year. The line in their games won't be in the single digits until a January 12 road trip to NC State.

Arizona has the next best chance, at 2%, and those odds will go up if they can survive their Jan 10-12 road swing through the State of Oregon.