The New Mexico State Aggies Will Have College Basketball’s Longest Win Streak This Season

After Baylor’s loss to West Virginia, Gonzaga is now the lone undefeated team in the country and the holder of the longest win streak at 17 games. However, they are not the only team with a double-digit streak, and it’s far from sure whether they will wind up with the longest winning streak this basketball season. Let’s take a look at each candidate and see if we can figure out a most likely scenario.

One thing to note here is that just about every team we will talk about is in the position they’re in because of being on a short list of good teams in a top-heavy conference.

Gonzaga is in the West Coast Conference where their only real threats are Saint Mary’s and BYU; New Mexico State’s only true threat in the WAC is Cal State-Bakersfield, and maybe Grand Canyon is in that talk; Oregon is competing with UCLA and Arizona in the Pac 12 and that’s about it. Kansas is in a slightly deeper Big 12 with the likes of West Virginia, Baylor, and Iowa State, but they also haven’t lost since their opening game of the season.

Most of these teams also just played their toughest opponent for a while, as well, so several of these streaks could get pretty substantial.

Team: Gonzaga Bulldogs
Win Streak: 17 games

The Bulldogs just played their first game against their biggest threat, the Saint Mary’s Gaels. We won’t be able to tell until their second go-round as to how much of Gonzaga’s dominance was caused by Jock Landale’s early foul trouble, but having your starting center and leading scorer sit for more than 70% of the first half is bound to catch up with you (like when the Zags finished the first half on a 12-2 run).

I saw enough from the Gaels – especially with Landale on the floor – that if they can keep him out of early foul trouble they’ve got a definite shot at an upset February 11th on their home court. As for the interim, I will eat my shorts if the Zags lose to Santa Clara, Portland, San Diego, Loyola or Pepperdine, all teams who are vastly inferior to the Gaels.

The only potential speed bump is the road game at BYU on February 2nd, but I have no clue how to predict that one. The Cougars absolutely ran Santa Clara out of the gym and are 10-1 at home, but that lone home loss was when they gave up 114 points to a Utah Valley team that’s only scored 90+ points in one other game (versus the NAIA Antelope Valley Pioneers).

BYU is talented, and they’ve got potential, but they’ve been too inconsistent for me to confidently pick an upset there. The Gaels rematch is the likely end point in my mind, which would end the win streak at 25 games.

Potential streak enders: @BYU 2/2, @St. Mary’s 2/11, BYU 2/25

Team: Kansas Jayhawks
Win Streak: 16 games

I’ll come right out and say that this is the streak that is going to end the soonest. The Jayhawks are a very good basketball team, just as they are any other year, but they have by far the toughest upcoming schedule in this group. They’ve already had home games where they struggled with Kansas State and held off an Oklahoma State team in a game where they didn’t take their first lead until six minutes into the second half.

Well, now they hit the hard part of their schedule. Iowa State is a little bit better of a team than the Cowboys, so while Kansas is favored it’s just barely. However, the game after that against Texas is the only time in the next six games that the Jayhawks face a team outside KenPom’s top 25. They’ll have back-to-back road games against West Virginia and Kentucky followed by a home game against Baylor. I’ll be impressed if Kansas’ streak is still alive at the end of the week, let alone the month. I’ll be generous and say they survive Iowa State but not West Virginia and Kentucky, ending the streak at 18 or 19 games.

Potential streak enders: @Iowa State 1/16, @West Virginia 1/24, @Kentucky 1/28, Baylor 2/1, Iowa State 2/4

Team: New Mexico State Aggies
Win Streak: 15 games

The Aggies are in a similar situation to Gonzaga, as they play in a top-heavy conference with only one decisively threatening opponent (CSU-B) who they just knocked off last night. The Aggies were not dominant and needed a late push to get the win, and I imagine the struggle might be even a bit greater on February 9th when they have their rematch against the Roadrunners in Bakersfield.

That said, the odds are extremely low that the Aggies lose before then, as their toughest opponent in their next five games prior to then is the aforementioned Utah Valley, who ranks 222nd in KenPom (well behind the Aggies at 101). That alone would push their streak to 20 games heading into their rematch with CSU-B.

The Aggies have depth and just methodically trudged their way from deficit to victory against their toughest foe in some time, and I’m confident that they can find a way to win the second time around. If they can pull that off, the Aggies would carry their win streak into the conference tournament, and who knows how long it could go from there. I’m being optimistic in saying they’ll sweep the Roadrunners this season, but it’s not much of a reach, which would bring their win streak to 26 by the end of the regular season.

Potential streak enders: @CSU-Bakersfield 2/9

Team: Oregon Ducks
Win Streak: 14 games

The Ducks also are a great team in a top-heavy conference, and they’ve got the added benefit of only having played one of the two other good teams in the Pac 12 (a last-second victory over UCLA). I fully expect them to manhandle their next five opponents the same way that they have with everyone they’ve played in the last six weeks other than the Bruins.

That first weekend in February is when things get real for Oregon, as well. They’ll face Arizona at home that day followed immediately by the road rematch against UCLA, a couple of toss-up games where they’ll likely be slight underdogs. Similar to Kansas, I would consider it quite impressive if the Ducks managed to win both  of those games. I’ll say they fall to the Bruins and their streak ends at 20 games.

Potential streak enders: Arizona 2/4, @UCLA 2/8

As for other teams, there’s not much concern further down the food chain. The Arizona Wildcats have won 10 in a row, and they’re the only team whose current streak is in double-digits. They would need to keep the streak going into their matchup with Oregon just to reach 15 wins in a row and join this crowd.

For both Kansas and Oregon, I expect that their eventual run-ins with the cream of their conference schedule (plus Kentucky, in KU’s case) will be the undoing of their streak before it even hits 20 games for either. Meanwhile, Gonzaga and New Mexico State are on parallel paths with five consecutive easy wins prior to a road rematch against the teams they just beat yesterday. From what I’ve seen, a home win for Saint Mary’s is far more likely than the same feat for Cal State-Bakersfield, so the Aggies are my choice to take home this title.

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