Blog Entry

Murray St. will not finish undefeated this season

Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 4:40 pm
By Matt Norlander

If that isn't the biggest "no doy (remember "no doy"? I'm bringin' it back, unfortunately) headline I'll write this season, I'm afraid of what else I'll be sucked into.

I cant believe it's Dec. 13 and we're already entertaining the notion of a team getting through February unscathed. You haven't even begun to take care of your Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus duties and we're already debating the merits of a college basketball team getting through its regular season and conference tournament without a loss, something that hasn't happened since Vegas in '91. That team had multiple future pros, is considered to be one of the best collections/compilations of talent/swagger in the history of the game -- and even the Rebs didn't go undefeated that year, defeated by Duke in the Final Four.

It's not going to happen, folks. The last team to do it before bracket play was St. Joe's in 2004 (note: that team remains a top-five Fun Team to Watch in my rankings), and it had two future NBA starters on its team who were first-round draft picks (Dalonte West and Jameer Nelson, of course). Murray State: approximately zero. The Racers aren't elite on offense or defense; they have just three players who are averaging more than one point per possession. Plus, they're making 79.9 percent of their free throws, which is so commendable because that kind of rate is so unusual. Each year, only one or two teams finish at a 79 percent clip or better.

And one more reason the trend lines will give in to gravity -- the 44.8 percent 3-point shooting, a clip that no team finishes at by season's end. Hitting at 43 percent is like winning eight straight bets on the roulette table or finding yourself with two dates on the same night. It almost has to happen by a confluence of blind luck. (Note: none of the depicted scenarios have ever happened to me. Let's swiftly move on.)

To reinforce the unlikelihood you're all too aware of, Alcorn State and Indiana State made it through their regular seasons undefeated, but that was in a time that doesn't really matter/exist/count: 1979. You know, before they had conference tournaments or Bill Raftery on television.

I guess I'm confused as to why this has become a talking point. Seriously, let's address this again: respected and intelligent people are with a straight face already talking about undefeated seasons six weeks into the college basketball season. Let's permanently ship this type of premature pontification to the NFL honks who get stirred up by the team a 7-0 campaign presents itself.

The sport's going along pretty well right now, even if we're coming off one of the ugliest fights in the sport's history (and I think there've been plenty worse fights, just well before so many games were on TV). We've got an unlikely No. 1 team, Kentucky, Carolina and Duke remain interesting, off-the-court sagas have dictated the news cycle, and there's even a new conference atop many a power rating. (Big Ten, it's great to have you completely back.)

I've certainly got the love for the undefeated Racers; they're currently nestled in at No. 8 in the Non-BCS Power Pyramid. We featured them on the blog Sunday night, too, after they took out a Memphis team that's now mired in problems yet again, and was clearly overvalued to start the season.

The key thing to note with Murray State right now: It's really 7-0, not 10-0. In the eyes of the tournament Selection Committee, that's especially true, since three of the team's 10 wins came against opponents who are not Division-I. It plays in a bad, bad league this year, so that's why some are speculating. But there's so much basketball to go. Ken Pomeroy puts the percentage at 6 out of 100 that the Racers cross the finish line prior to the NCAA tournament with a bagel in the L column. I'm putting it at .5. Undefeated seasons + conference tournament runs don't happen anymore, as much I wish otherwise.

(It's on my Uncontrollable Bucket List to see another hoops team go wire to wire without a loss.)

Too many variables -- BracketBusters is still on the way, team's playing hard for a brand-new coach, eight road games remain, Austin Peay is always such problem, yo -- are out there for Murray State to run down college basketball's "Holy Grail." This should and will be an NCAA tournament team. A dangerous one. A familiar dangerous one. But the undefeated talk is way too premature and ultimately a fool's errand to prognosticate.

How I'd love to be wrong, though.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Oct 29, 2006
Posted on: December 17, 2011 6:43 am

Murray St. will not finish undefeated this season

Slow down here a little.  Murray State has a nice squad this season.  They play in a nice gymnasium with a home gym advantage that will give them a helping hand.  It is easy to say they won't go undefeated, but I think they have good chance.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:44 pm

Come on, Matt

Gee, Matt: way to go out on a limb.  It is incredibly brave to predict that a team won't go undefeated for their entire season.  The odds are only 400-1 or so in your favor.  Do you have any more great predictions for us?  Here are some more predictions on the level of this one:

The sun will rise in the east and set in the west.

Somebody will win six games in a row in the NCAA Tourament.  
Etc, ad nausem.  Anyway, I'm sure you get the idea.  You are usually a lot better writer than to use such an unimaginative premise, and I am extremely disappointed to see you publish something at this level.  Please at least tell us you were busy Christmas shopping and outsourced the article to fiverr dot com. 

Since: Oct 26, 2009
Posted on: December 16, 2011 9:02 am

Murray St. will not finish undefeated this season

"I can't believe it's Dec. 13 and we're already entertaining the notion of a team getting through February unscathed."  WE?  I hope you mean the idiots at CBS, because nobody else is dumb enough to consider this.  Why did you write this story?  Were you actually forced to by your bosses or did you think it would be a good story.  If this was an idea by your boss, he should be fired because he's a dumba$$.  If it was your idea, then you're the dumba$$.  Either way, you have once again proved that CBS sports wouldn't know a real news story if it bit them in the a$$.  CBS believes that they need to create the news rather than report it and that's why their site is considered such a joke outside of the south.

Since: Feb 6, 2010
Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:07 am

Murray St. will not finish undefeated this season

Great comments although I disagree with the two authors' conclusions. Parrish felt that based upon the quality of the teams remaining Murray State should and will most likely go undefeated until tournament time. I commend Parrish for his attempt to give credit to Murray State for what they have done up to this point with a new coach and being picked third in the OVC. At least he wasn't hoping on the Xavier -Cinci fight-club band-wagon. Maybe his headline should have read. "Murray State, Mid-Major surprise continues to win" But would that have created as much controversy? I think not. I have played and watched enough basketball in my life to know the value of having a team with upperclassmen and a high free throw percentage. Murray State can and will go undefeated, but that really means nothing. MSU needs to get past the second round of the tournament to put a true mark of excellence on their season. A buzzer beater against Vandy was great on 2010 but a win against Butler would have have been better!

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:55 pm

Murray St. will not finish undefeated this season

I thought you made a lot of good points, and I too believe it is too early to begin talking about an undefeated season. Not only because I believe there will be games when this team has such a target on it's back that they may have too much pressure and falter in a game while another team (Austin Peay on the road/Eastern Illinois on the road??) finds a way to beat them.

What I do know is that as a Murray St. student it's great to see all this national attention, and even being ranked 24 in the AP poll. This means the upcoming games are going to be more and more packed and games will become a much bigger deal around the town of Murray, KY. I love watching teams start off hot like this, and I believe it would be amazing to see an undefeated season, I just think it's a little early to talk about that as of right now.

One thing I am hoping is that the national attention doesn't get too hot with every few wins that there becomes this superstar ego that the Racers get, causing them to undervalue opponents and slip up. I want them to stick with the gameplan and not let the hype get the best of them if their season does teeter towards undefeated numbers. And oh how I hope it does....

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or