The undefeated

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

Every team is unbeatable...until they get beat.

Over the years, there have been so many teams that have been billed as invincible early in the season. We see the talent and we see the blowouts, and we automatically jump to conclusions.

We automatically proclaim the team the greatest thing since sliced bread and assume they will finish the year with an unblemished record.

It has happened many times in the NFL despite the fact that there have only been two teams in history that have finished the regular season undefeated and only one team that has ever gone an entire season without a loss.

And of course, we do it with college basketball teams--even though we haven't seen a team finish with an unblemished record since 1976.

That surely hasn't stopped many people from becoming prisoners of the moment and crowning Kentucky the greatest team in the history of mankind. Not only are they saying the Cats could beat an NBA squad, but they are also well on their way to finishing the year undefeated.

I hate to be the party pooper, but I don't think Kentucky will be pulling off something that hasn't been done in 38 years.

That's not saying the Wildcats aren't great. They're the No. 1 team for a reason. They're chocked-full of talent, and their run to the title game last year shows that they can get it done when it matters the most.

So far this season, they've been dominant. They absolutely dismantled No. 5 Kansas 72-40 and then beat poor Montana State and UT-Arlington by a combined 106 points.

The run has them at a perfect 7-0. That's fantastic, but they still have 24 regular season games left on the schedule, and many of those games will present some challenges.

Friday night, they'll have to play another extremely talented and undefeated team in No. 6 Texas and come next week, they'll be facing off against No. 12 North Carolina.

Other tough non-SEC teams include UCLA and a tough road matchup with archrival Louisville--a team that ranks fifth at the moment.

And of course, there is the tough conference slate. No doubt, they appear to be the class of the SEC, but league games are always tricky.

No team knows them better than those in the SEC, and playing a team twice in one year always presents upset opportunities.

Even if they do get through the 24 games unfazed, they'll still have the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament standing in their way of perfection.

There is a reason no college basketball team has gone undefeated in nearly 40 years. It's because no matter how much talent you have, the old saying so often rings true: "you can't win them all."

Kentucky is the most talented team in the nation, but talent doesn't always win out.

It doesn't matter how many horses you have on your team, sometimes you will just have a bad night. One night, you may catch the turnover bug when you least expect it.

One night, the team might go cold as ice while the other team catches fire and turns white-hot. One night, you might have to deal with one or two of your star players not being 100 percent.

One night, you might catch some bad calls. One night, you might just have a rough road trip and come out sluggish or flat. One night, the other team might just play better.

That's certainly not a far-fetched idea. When you're carrying around that No. 1 ranking, you're going to get every team's best shot--especially if you're on the road, and they've got a raucous home crowd behind them.

This is a new era. It's not the '60s and '70s when teams like UCLA and Indiana went undefeated routinely.

Teams are playing so many more games. Teams have so much youth on their rosters with so many players leaving early for the NBA Draft.

Talent is so evenly spread throughout the nation now that it creates parody that was non-existent 30 years ago. That's why it's so hard to go undefeated.

UNLV had one of the greatest teams in the history of college basketball in 1991. The year before, they massacred Duke in the national title game and in '91, they went undefeated in the regular season. Shockingly, they were upset by Duke in the Final Four.

St. Joseph's went undefeated in the 2004 regular season before losing to Xavier in their conference tournament.

Playing a very favorable schedule, Wichita State went undefeated last year before getting beat by Kentucky in the second round of last season's NCAA tournament.

Here's one final thought to put things into perspective. Kentucky's 2010 and 2012 teams were more talented than this current squad.

The John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins-led 2010 squad lost twice during the regular season and were eventually upset by West Virginia in the Elite 8.

The Anthony Davis-led 2012 national championship team lost once in the regular season and then again the SEC Tournament.

Every now and then, the best team doesn't win.