Mar 8, 2015 3:12 AM
No. 1 Kentucky looks to avoid recent finishes by unbeatens
The Associated Press
Top-ranked Kentucky is the fifth team to finish the regular season undefeated since Indiana ran the table in the 1975-76 season. The Wildcats are also trying not to come up short like the others did in their quest to duplicate the Hoosiers' perfect championship campaign.
The Wildcats knocked off Florida 67-50 Saturday in a Southeastern Conference matchup and Kentucky wrapped up the season 31-0, 18-0 in the SEC.
"We all knew that we would make some noise and do something special," Kentucky forward Trey Lyles said after Saturday's victory. "We just have to go out there and if it's our day to win, then we're going to win."
It needs to be Kentucky's day nine more times for the Wildcats to become the next undefeated team to win the national title.
A look at teams since Indiana's memorable title run to go undefeated during the regular season but stumbled either in their conference tournament or the NCAA tournament:
WICHITA STATE, 2013-14: The Shockers rolled to a 31-0 record, then became the Midwest Region's No. 1 seed after winning the Missouri Valley conference tournament. Wichita State won its second-round game in the tournament and then faced No. 8 seed Kentucky, which began the season ranked No. 1 but struggled with inconsistency and fell out of the poll by the end of the regular season. The Wildcats pulled off a 78-76 upset that was preserved when Fred VanVleet's last-ditch 3-pointer bounced off the rim and ended the Shockers' dream season. The Shockers ended the season 35-1.
ST. JOSEPH'S, 2003-04: Jameer Nelson and Delonte West led the Philadelphia school to a 27-0 regular-season record, No. 1 ranking and eventual No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. But Xavier quashed the Hawks' unbeaten hopes with a 20-point blowout 87-67 in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. St. Joe's won its next three games in the NCAA before falling 64-62 to No. 2 Oklahoma State in the regional final to finish 30-2.
UNLV, 1990-91: This group of Runnin' Rebels were a dominant, entertaining group of characters, including Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony. They were strong favorites to repeat as NCAA champions, especially after rolling through the regular season 27-0 and capturing the Big West tournament crown. But their run ended in a Final Four rematch with Duke they had shellacked the Blue Devils 103-73 in the previous year's title game. With Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner leading the way, Duke upset the Rebels 79-77. UNLV finished the season 34-1.
INDIANA STATE, 1978-79. National player of the year Larry Bird, a Hoosier for about a minute, almost single-handedly led Indiana State to 26-0 regular-season record and a No. 1 ranking just three years after Indiana's run. Bird and the Sycamores won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament en route to an epic NCAA final matchup against a Michigan State squad with Magic Johnson and Greg Kelser. The Spartans won 75-64 in the most-watched college basketball game in history, which spawned one of the most memorable basketball rivalries of all time. Bird and the Sycamores finished that year 33-1.