Five weeks into the season, only four conferences feature teams without a losing record. Perhaps it's not surprising to see the ACC, Big East and Big 12 among them.
The fourth? The Mountain West. Chalk up one for the mid-majors.
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|Darington Hobson and New Mexico are off to a 10-0 start.
Sure, the MWC doesn't have the gaudy overall records of the other two. At 60-24 (a 71.43 win percentage), it falls behind the Big 12 (90-20, 81.21 percent), Big East (115-26, 81.56 percent) and ACC (81-22, 78.64 percent), and teams like Wyoming (5-4), TCU (5-5) and Utah (5-5) are on the cusp of falling below .500.
A couple others are close (like the SEC and the Missouri Valley), but give the league some credit. It appears deeper than in previous seasons – and the top teams are capable of BCS schools. Especially the Pac-10.
New Mexico (10-0) has beaten Cal and Texas A&M. BYU (8-1) has taken down Arizona State. San Diego State (8-2) is coming off a win against Arizona. And UNLV (7-1) has taken down Arizona and Louisville. Heck, even Utah (5-5) has stopped Illinois and Michigan – but lost to Idaho and Seattle.
At this rate, the MWC will give the Pac-10 a run for the No. 6 spot in the overall conference standings. But does that make a stronger statement about the Mountain West or the Pac-10? Check back in March.
In the meantime, here are 5 Things to Watch.
Winless no more?
There are more than 340 D-I basketball schools. Ten have yet to win a game, which makes Saturday a big day.
Three have great chances to end their skids.
Jacksonville is better than their 0-5 mark, at least according to kenpom.com. The Dolphins have lost to FSU, Cal, South Carolina, Florida and to Georgia State. If they don't beat Bethune Cookman on Wednesday, Campbell could be the one on Saturday.
Marist (0-7) plays host to Binghamton, which has beaten just 1 D-I team. Should be good for a win.
Maryland-Baltimore County (0-9) plays at American (1-8), which is essentially a toss-up. The Retrievers have lost three times by five points or less, so maybe they're due.
And what about those unbeatens?
Don't get used to 'em. At least one will lose this week. It'll be like that until we';re down to a couple for 2010.
|Freshman Avery Bradley has helped Texas to an 8-0 start.
The 11 remaining are: Georgetown (8-0), Kansas (9-0), Kentucky (10-0), Missouri State (9-0), New Mexico (10-0), Purdue (9-0), Seton Hall (8-0), Syracuse (10-0), Texas (8-0), Texas Tech (9-0) and West Virginia (7-0).
The Jayhawks and Longhorns are getting to the meat of their schedules (more on that in a bit), while Seton Hall (vs. Temple), Texas Tech (at Wichita State) and New Mexico (vs. Creighton) have tough matchups.
Taking aim at No. 1 and 2
Top-ranked Kansas welcomes Michigan on Saturday, which will be the most talented and toughest opponent in Allen Fieldhouse thus far this season. Manny Harris and the Wolverines (4-4) have disappointed thus far, but they promise to be an interesting test for KU.
Harris is the kind of do-it-all player that can carry a team, while John Beilein's idiosyncratic schemes are tough for team who rarely see them. Then again, there's a reason why Kansas wins by more than 40 points at home.
Texas, however, has a different challenge.
It'll play North Carolina at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday, which will be unlike anything the 'Horns have seen this season. Forget Pitt and Iowa. The Heels are long, athletic and fast – exactly like the Longhorns.
It'll be a Final Four worthy game in a Final Four worthy setting.
Don't call it a mid-major showdown
Xavier plays at Butler on Saturday (yes, for those keeping track, it's a great day for hoops), though I'm loathe to call it the mid-major showdown of the year simply because neither school likes that term.
ANYWAY, both schools could use the win. Xavier (6-3) got a big win vs. cross-town rival Cincinnati on Sunday, and Butler (7-3) is coming off a win over Ohio State, but every little bit will count with the NCAA tournament seeding committee because neither is a lock.
Louisville's seeing red
Speaking the seeding committee, the Cardinals (5-3) are coming off back-to-back losses to Charlotte and Western Carolina, both at home. Those are gonna hurt when March rolls around.
And with games against Oral Roberts (6-4, and coming off a win vs. Missouri) and Western Kentucky (5-3, just beat Vandy) this week, Rick Pitino's squad could easily be .500 with just two more games before Big East play begins.
A poor season isn't something Pitino can stomach this season.
Mike Miller writes 5 Things to Watch every Sunday. He's on Twitter every day @BeyndArcMMiller.