Heading into the Christmas weekend, there are just six NCAA basketball schools without a loss: Baylor, Creighton, Gonzaga, UCLA, USC and Villanova. Let's project which of those will be the last to suffer a loss -- hint: plays in Spokane -- along with NCAA title odds.
No team has made a bigger rise up the NCAA basketball odds futures board than the second-ranked Bruins, who are 13-0 and already own the best win of the season by any team: at then-No. 1 Kentucky on Dec. 3. That's the only game in which UCLA has been challenged much. The last time the Bruins finished the non-conference schedule without a loss was in 1994-95 and they won the national championship. This is an offensive dynamo, averaging 95.8 points (second nationally) and leading the country in assists (23.6 apg) and shooting (55 percent). But the Bruins' Pac-12 opener next week is really tough and I see them going down.
First Projected Loss: Dec. 28 At Oregon
Villanova Wildcats (+1000)
So much for a built of any sort of rebuilding season for the defending national champions after losing a few key players off that squad. The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in both polls and are 12-0 entering their Big East opener Wednesday at home against DePaul. They have the nation's longest winning streak at 18 straight -- of course those first six were in last season's NCAA Tournament. Villanova also has won 44 in a row at its on-campus Pavilion, two shy of the school record. Josh Hart is a leading candidate for National Player of the Year, averaging 20.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
First Projected Loss: Jan. 4 At Butler
Gonzaga Bulldogs (+2800)
No. 7 Gonzaga is 12-0. It's a disservice to call the Zags a mid-major at this point because this has been one of college basketball's best programs, conference affiliation regardless, for years. You might question Gonzaga's strength of schedule inside the West Coast Conference, but the Bulldogs already own wins over No. 21 Iowa State, No. 16 Arizona and they blew out Washington and Tennessee. Gonzaga has yet to play a true road game, however. It opens WCC play next Thursday vs. Pepperdine.
First Projected Loss: Jan. 19 At Santa Clara
Baylor Bears (+3500)
The No. 4 Bears are 12-0 and actually got more first-place votes (6) in the most recent AP Top 25 than UCLA did (3). Is this the year a team like Baylor finally ends Kansas' amazing streak of Big 12 titles? Baylor has one of the top newcomers in the nation in 7-foot Aussie center Jo Lual-Acuil. He transferred to Baylor in 2015 and sat out last season because of a heart condition but is a shot-blocking machine at 4.1 per game. Baylor has quality wins over Oregon, Michigan State, Louisville and Xavier. The Bears play their first true road game Dec. 30 at Oklahoma to start the Big 12 schedule.
First Projected Loss: Jan. 10 At West Virginia
Creighton Bluejays (+4000)
The No. 9 Bluejays are 12-0 for the first time since 2003-04 but have played a pretty weak schedule. The best win was at home over No. 9 Wisconsin early in the season. Creighton is usually one of the best offensive teams in the country and that's no different this season as it averages 89.8 ppg (seventh nationally) and shoots 53.8 percent from the field (behind only UCLA). Creighton, which is an excellent 8-3 ATS on NCAA basketball picks thus far, opens Big East play Wednesday vs. Seton Hall and then hosts No. 1 Villanova on New Year's Eve.
First Projected Loss: Dec. 31 Vs. Villanova
USC Trojans (+20000)
The Trojans were 12-0 entering Friday's matchup vs. Wyoming in Las Vegas, are No. 23 in the AP poll and off to their best start enjoying their longest winning streak since going 16-0 to begin the 1970-71 season. That team went on to finish 24-2. But this could be fool's gold as USC had to rally to win after trailing by nine points or more six times already this season. And it's not like USC has played any ranked teams yet. Its best wins are likely against Texas A&M, SMU and BYU. The Trojans open Pac-12 play on Wednesday at Oregon State. I'll just assume they beat Wyoming on Friday but this is the weakest of the unbeaten teams regardless.
First Projected Loss: Dec. 30 At Oregon