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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: UK Bronze Medal Best Team, CHAMPIONSHIP


Over the last 4 days, we have whittled the 32 best UK teams of all-time down to 2.  OK, maybe not the 32 best teams.  That’s because I think most (and by most, I understand some disagree) would agree that the 1996 or 2012 team was the best in UK history.  Those 2 teams would likely be considered the 2 best teams in UK history.  But I think there were a wide variety of teams that could have arguments for 3rd.  I seeded, bracketed, and then played out how a tournament would look.  For a reminder of the previous 4 days, you can check out these links:

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS
ROUND OF 16 RESULTS
ROUND OF 8 RESULTS
FINAL 4 RESULTS

Now, as tournaments often can happen, sometimes the 2 best teams don’t make the final.  But in this case, before the tournament was ever seeded and bracketed (by somebody else I should add), I would have picked the ’78 title team and ’97 runner-up team as the 2 best teams not from 1996 or 2012.  So, I am glad the bracket has worked out and you all have agreed with my assessment that those 2 teams deserve to be in the finals.  Because keep in mind:

IF A CONVINCING ENOUGH ARGUMENT HAS BEEN MADE IN THE COMMENTS, I WILL AWARD THAT GAME TO THE TEAM I DIDN’T PICK.  In fact, that happened 3 different times during the tournament, so you know it’s possible.

What’s not going to happen is if you don’t pay attention to this statement: Of course the players of the 1970’s are not as good as the 1990’s.  If the skills were not the same, this game would likely be a 10-15 point win for the Mercer-led Cats.  But, for the sake of argument, assume that players’ skills have developed to the level of the modern game.  So, Louie Dampier would be considered a better player than Wayne Turner, etc etc.

With that said, let’s take a look at the final:

1977-78 (30-2, NCAA Champs, SEC Champs, Jack Givens, Rick Robey)
Road to the Finals
beat (8) 2000-01 (24-10, SEC Champs, SEC Tourney Champs, Tayshaun Prince)
beat (5) 1991-92 (29-7, SEC East Champs, SEC Tourney Champs, Jamal Mashburn)
beat (3) 1983-84 (29-5, Final Four, SEC Champs, SEC Tourney Champs, Melvin Turpin)
beat (1) 1992-93 (30-4, Final Four, SEC Tourney Champs, Jamal Mashburn)

vs

1996-97 (35-5, NCAA Runner-Up, SEC Tourney Champs, #1 Seed, Ron Mercer, Derek Anderson)
Road to the Finals
beat (6) 1976-77 (26-4, SEC Champs, Jack Givens, Rick Robey)
beat (2) 2009-10 (35-3, SEC Champs, SEC Tourney Champs, #1 Seed, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins)
beat (1) 1948-49 (32-2, NCAA Champs, SEC Champs, SEC Tourney Champs, Ralph Beard, Alex Groza)
beat (3) 1965-66 (27-2, NCAA Runner-Up, SEC Champs, Pat Riley, Louie Dampier)

BTI Pick: Kyle Macy vs Anthony Epps, Truman Claytor vs Ron Mercer, Goose Givens vs Scott Padgett, Rick Robey vs Jared Prickett, Mike Phillips vs Nazr Mohammed, James Lee vs Cam Mills/Wayne Turner off the bench.  Those are the matchups.  I would say that the ’97 team has an advantage at the guards spots together, especially considering the depth off the bench at those positions.  Macy might have been the best overall guard of the bunch, but in 1978 that was a sophomore Kyle Macy, maybe not at his full potential.  I think Anthony Epps could have at least hung with Macy.  And certainly Mercer was a better player than Claytor.  But at the 3-4-5 spots, it appears that 1978 have the advantage.  Certainly Givens and Robey are clear advantages and I would take Phillips over Mohammed, but that would be a very close battle. 

So, how does it play out?  Well, Rick Pitino teams needed great guards to make perimeter shots, cause turnovers, and keep the pace fast.  This team had a great player to lead that charge in Anthony Epps.  The problem is, as shown in the 1997 title game, is a good scoring guard point guard can counteract that, and the ’78 Cats have that in Macy.  In 1978, Macy averaged over 12ppg while also accumulating 5.5 apg.  He was the kind of guard who would give Anthony Epps problems, a la Miles Simon and Mike Bibby. 

Certainly Ron Mercer has a chances for a big game, but as much as Mercer provides, Goose Givens likely equals that out.  And the final difference maker in this game would be Robey.  He works over Prickett all night long, easily records a double-double, and givens the ’78 team weapons on the perimeter, wing, and post.  In the end, I believe the 1978 squad should be considered the 3rd best team in UK history, and beat the 1997 team 82-77.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

16 responses to “BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: UK Bronze Medal Best Team, CHAMPIONSHIP”

  1. Scott

    If Pitino grows a pair and plays Derek Anderson then I would have to give the edge to 96-97. But without DA I think your prediction is valid and sound.

  2. john

    I’m not sure the 97 team beats the Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe and Patterson lead 2010 team.

  3. GoForIT

    Looking forward to this series is done.

  4. Marc

    Where is Anderson in this scenario?? Weren’t all the players supposed to be healthy and available? BTI Sucks!

  5. Rockfield, KY

    I think the 78 team is a good choice. The only problem with the 09-10 team is that they couldn’t shoot and if they ran into a team that was hot, they were done. Add Jodie Meeks to that team, however, and they’re in the conversation for maybe the best UK team. Damnit Jodie.

  6. jojovandaho

    So you have just killed your entire argument from before that we had to view these teams as being completely healthy and then you don’t even mention the best player on the 97-97 team, Anderson. He would have played the 2 moving Mercer to the 3. Now can you imagine that match up of Mercer VS the Goose. and if need be the defense of Turner could have come in and shut down macy. Again you prove that you suck BTI.

  7. Toothless Temp

    BTI mentions Anderson in the post but not in the recap of his game breakdown. What up with that BTI?

  8. Toothless Temp

    “IF A CONVINCING ENOUGH ARGUMENT HAS BEEN MADE IN THE COMMENTS, I WILL AWARD THAT GAME TO THE TEAM I DIDN’T PICK. In fact, that happened 3 different times during the tournament, so you know it’s possible.”

    DA…nuff said.

  9. Catfaninhoosierland

    Damnit BTI. I’m a defender of yours, but you just wasted an entire week by using Anderson till the last day. You have given the haters a valid reason to hate. While I still believe the 78 team wins, Anderson in the game makes it even closer than 5 points, and the game wouldn’t end in regulation.

  10. Union Farmer

    I think our 1995 team would beat our 1997 team. The 1995 team had a similar fate as the Wall-Cousins team. They just had a horrific shooting day on the Elite 8 and a case of mistaken identity by the officials calling a technical foul on Walter McCarty instead of Andre Riddick.

  11. Kemp's Pawn & Lube

    I have to agree with the others. The omission of Anderson in this discussion removes its credibility. I demand a recount. Send this article to the Florida Secretary of State and then the Supreme Court.

  12. Ridge Runner

    BTI… the color red becomes you.

  13. Blueneck

    This is what Matt was talking about when he mentioned people who can’t come up with any good ideas of things to write about…

  14. Hodor

    Hodor.

  15. Paul Collins

    And Ralph Beard says, “not so fast ….” I’ve talked to someone who had to guard him and who says that he was the MJ of his day–in fact, so far ahead of every other player in athleticism that he was never decently tested in competition. Plug in MJ in his heyday and throw the dice again.

  16. Matt14

    I’ve always been a buff of the 78 team, so my heart says them, but a healthy DA is trouble. I’d say 97 in that scenario