The Importance of Being Undefeated

Which is much more important than being earnest. Much more.

If you didn't already know, the college hoops rankings work very similarly to the college football rankings. Lose to a ranked team and you drop a couple spots. Lose to an unranked team and you drop 10-15 spots. Win, and you pass the teams that lost.

It's like an adult version of the child's game "King of the Hill", where you have a small hill or large rock that one child proclaims "I'm the best!" and then all his friends jump up and try to tear him down. Eventually there are 20 kids all standing on top, not moving too much, until one of them falls from grace (aka losing to an unranked team). For the next few minutes (weeks), he will be out of the picture (unranked).

When you get to the NCAA Tournament, going 3-1 gets you to the Elite 8, but no one cares about that. You can look at it in one of two ways: either you have to somehow win six straight games against the best of the best, or you simply have to SURVIVE. Survive and advance. Sound familiar? (24:30 is the first mention. One game at a time.)

Survive and Advance - NC State, Jim Valvano, 1983 from Arie in t Veld on Vimeo.

All you have to do is not lose. Sure, it's better to win by 20 than 2. Sure it's better to shoot 45% than 30%. But if you win, you win. You'll move up in the rankings. You'll survive to see another day. Our flaws on a game-to-game basis will have to improve in order to move on. But at least you're moving on.

I'm not saying you have to be the eternal optimist. But try to enjoy a win, because it gets you that much closer to the Tournament. Figure out what you didn't like and talk about how we should improve it. So we can keep winning.

The Main Reason for Writing

Currently, both Villanova's men's and women's teams are undefeated at 4-0. The women play against Lafayette at 2 p.m. on Sunday hoping to reach 5-0, but that is the only thing keeping the Nova squads from being undefeated on Thanksgiving.

Very few teams can say that. When Saturday's slate of games opened up, 60 men's and 55 women's teams had not lost yet. That's right around 16 percent. It's fewer than the amount of tournament teams. I know Duke lost to Kansas and Kentucky lost to Michigan State. They're probably better than us overall. But we're also better than some of the other undefeated teams. The point is, we've found a way to win.

Another surprising fact: At Saturday's opening, only 19 schools had undefeated men's and women's teams. Villanova is one of 'em. Only five have more wins than Villanova's eight.

This means we're allowed to make a mistake down the road. If we lose to Kansas, it's okay. It's our first blemish on an otherwise good start to the season. Let's say Georgetown were to play Kansas. They can't lose. That would give them three losses in November. That spells trouble. Their loss to Northeastern was their bad game of the year. They keep throwing away games, they're screwed.

We are in a good place right now. We have to keep it going, but take the time to revel in the fact that only 18 other schools can say "Hey, our basketball teams haven't lost yet."

A Look at Saturday's Games

40 of the 115 undefeated squads play or played today. I'll be back tomorrow morning to recap the slate of games and give an update on how many teams remain.

Some of the bigger games include a pair of 3-0 teams in Mississippi State and Utah State at 9:00, and a 4-0 Oklahoma team playing No. 1 ranked Michigan State in Brooklyn.

I'll also be following along some of the games and tweeting updates @imPULSEivity, so give me a quick follow if you want some info on college hoops!

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