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    Which two teams last lost longest ago?

    by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, November 28, 2012


    A few days ago, after witnessing Wisconsin losing to Creighton and Belmont’s late night collapse to Northeastern, I wondered how long ago it had been since Belmont and Wisconsin had lost on the same day. Both programs have been consistent winners in recent years, so it figured it may have been a while. It turned out the last time this occurred was on January 16, 2010.

    I couldn’t stop there, though. The next logical step to this trivial tidbit is to determine which pair of teams has currently gone the longest without losing on the same day. I am here to report the results of such research. As it turns out, if I gave myself infinity guesses, I would not have been able to figure out the correct pair.

    On February 5, 2005, Murray State lost to Southeast Missouri State 61-58, while Purdue fell to Northwestern 67-61. Since then, neither the Boilermakers nor the Racers have suffered defeats on the same day. There are second-graders that have never experienced this. This is fairly stunning since the two have combined for 152 losses since then.

    They’ve played on the same day 84 times since then, and at least one of the two has won every time. Murray has lost 14 times and Purdue 22 times, but they’ve worked things out so that none of those defeats were on the same day. What does the future hold for this streak? Here are the occasions that the two teams share a date on the their respective schedules the rest of this season and the chances of both teams losing.

    12/4: 0% (Murray plays a non-D-I)
    12/8: 6.8%
    12/29: 2.9%
    1/5: 25.1%
    1/19: 1.7%
    1/24: 22.7%
    2/2: 4.0%
    2/9: 8.9%
    2/16: 11.0%
    3/2: 10.8%

    Given the strength at the top of the Big Ten, it stands to reason that Murray State is going to do the heavy lifting to keep the streak alive this year. Obviously, it would make it easy on everybody if the Racers could pull off another two-loss season. (Since the beginning of last season, Murray has gone 15-0 on common dates, rendering Purdue’s 8-7 record meaningless.)

    The first big roadblock comes on January 5th when Purdue travels to Michigan State, while Murray State has a losable game at SEMO. Then on January 24th, Purdue is at Michigan while the Racers play at Tennessee Tech.  The pressure will be all on Murray on February 16th when Purdue goes to Indiana. Fortunately, the Racers play lowly Eastern Illinois, although it is a road game. Add it all up (or technically, multiply all of the chances of avoiding two losses) and there’s about a 36% chance of the streak surviving through the end of the season.

    That does not include possible tournament games, either. A date in the OVC final game for Murray State would fall on the same day as Purdue’s final regular season game hosting Minnesota, which would hardly be a gimme for either team. And they may share a date or two in the NCAA tournament. Of course, this assumes both teams are accurately rated at this point. If I have Murray State underrated, the streak’s survival is much more likely.

    The streak came dangerously lose to dying earlier this season. On November 16th, Purdue fell to Oregon State at about the same time Murray State was facing a late eight-point deficit against St. John’s. A closing 20-8 run by the Racers kept things alive. But with the potential doom in mind, and considering the NCAA is probably not about to track an achievement like this in its record book, here’s a wallet-sized list of what I believe to be the ten longest active streaks of this sort. Break it out at parties for a fun conversation starter!

    1. Murray State/Purdue (Last simultaneous losses on 2/5/05)
    2. Kansas/Ohio State (2/19/05)
    3. Duke/Kansas (3/6/05)
    4. North Carolina/Weber State (1/19/06)
    5. New Mexico/North Carolina (1/25/06)
    6. Fairfield/Kansas (2/25/06)
    7. Kansas/North Texas (11/15/06)
    8. Kentucky/Memphis (11/21/06)
    9. Kansas/Niagara (12/2/06)
    10. Syracuse/Western Kentucky (12/19/06)