And then there was one.
We're halfway through January and No. 4 San Diego State (20-0) is still the only remaining undefeated men's basketball team for the 2019-20 season after Alabama prevented No. 4 Auburn from reaching 16-0.
Three-hundred and fifty-three teams started with an undefeated record in November and now the Aztecs are the only ones who can make that claim.
San Diego State matched its 20-0 start from the 2010-11 season with a 72-55 win over Wyoming on Tuesday.
Last year, undefeated Michigan and Virginia both lost on Jan. 19 in a pair of challenging road games at Wisconsin and Duke, respectively. Remarkably, in the 2017-18 season, the final three undefeated teams lost on the same day — Arizona State at rival Arizona, TCU at home to Oklahoma and eventual national champion Villanova at Butler.
(By the way, if you're looking for a random, but incredible, college basketball stat to file away for trivia someday, Villanova went 68-8 in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, including winning the 2018 national title. During that span, the Wildcats were 2-3 against Butler and 66-5 against the rest of the country.)
San Diego State's pursuit of perfection begs the question: What is its toughest remaining regular-season game?
With nine remaining conference games for the Aztecs, which singular game poses the biggest threat of a loss?
Here's the answer – along with a few other games to circle.
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San Diego State
Toughest remaining game: Saturday, Feb. 29 at Nevada
You can thank the Mountain West schedule-makers if this comes to fruition: an undefeated, likely No. 1 team in the country going on the road to play Nevada on a Saturday in its regular season finale.
There's still a lot of basketball to be played between today and Feb. 29 — nine games, to be exact — but San Diego State is currently in first place in the Mountain West with a 9-0 record, while Nevada is currently 4-3.
Nevada still has talent left over from Eric Musselman's tenure, when the Wolf Pack quickly developed into an annual NCAA tournament team and a program that would challenge for 30 wins a season. After being a key reserve last season, senior Jazz Johnson (17.1 ppg) has stepped into a larger role as a starter and the team's second-leading scorer, while fellow guards Jalen Harris (18.4 ppg) and Lindsey Drew (12.1 ppg) also average double figures in points per game.
New Nevada coach Steve Alford, previously of UCLA, New Mexico and Iowa, has coached on big stages before, but preparing a game plan as the final roadblock between a powerhouse in the conference and an undefeated season would be a new kind of pressure.
Nevada currently ranks 20th nationally in 3-point percentage (38.0 percent) and fifth in opponent 3-point percentage (27.2 percent), which at face value, suggests the Wolf Pack have the statistical make-up to shoot lights-out from three and potentially fluster the opponent into a cold-shooting night. Maybe Nevada can do both on the same night.
Three more games to circle:
- Wednesday, Jan. 29 at New Mexico
- Saturday, Feb. 1 vs. Utah State
- Sunday, Feb. 16 at Boise State