Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Bronze Medal Best UK Team Ever, Elite 8

On Monday, we started breaking down which team should be considered the 3rd best team in UK history.  Why the 3rd best?  Because there is a general consensus amongst most that the 1996 and 2012 squads were the 2 best teams in UK history.  Which one is first and which one is 2nd is up for debate, but that is not what this tournament is about.

I considered the 32 best candidates for the bronze medal, and then seeded and bracketed them.  For the next 3 days we will whittle them down until we have just 2 remaining.  To be considered for one of the 32 spots, my criteria were the team had to do at least 1 of these things:

-SEC Champions or SEC East Champions
-SEC Tournament Champions
-NCAA Tournament 1 or 2 seed
-Final Four Appearance

If a team couldn’t complete at least 1 of these tasks, they probably wouldn’t deserve consideration anyway.  Now, I will give you who I think would win in a fictional game between teams, BUT you have the chance to change my mind.  If a convincing enough argument is put into the comments section I will change my pick for the next round tomorrow.  Now, one last thing when considering which team you think would win a game.  It goes without saying that players in the 1950′s were slower and less athletic than players today.  So, for the sake or argument, let’s assume those older players’ skills have developed to the level of the modern player.  The 1993 UK team would probably beat every UK team before 1970 if they actually played.  Just for this post, take that out of play:


(1) 1948-49
(32-2, NCAA Champs, SEC Champs, SEC Tourney Champs, Ralph Beard, Alex Groza)
(3)  1996-97
(35-5, NCAA Runner-Up, SEC Tourney Champs, #1 Seed, Ron Mercer, Derek Anderson)

BTI Pick: Again, in this scenario, Derek Anderson is healthy.  The 1949 champs won a gold medal the previous year, had 7 players who would be All-SEC at some point, and had 4 players who eventually had their jersey’s retired.  Certainly Alex Groza would be a beast in the post, with Nazr Mohammed having his hands full with the national player of the year.  But the combination of Mercer and Anderson on the wings would be too much.  Not to mention Wayne Turner held a 4-inch advantage over Ralph Beard.  The ’97 Cats shoot the ball well enough, and pester Beard enough to pull out a victory in my book.

’97 UK 85
’49 UK 75


(4) 1953-54 (25-0, SEC Champs, Declined NCAA Bid, Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey)
(3) 1965-66
(27-2, NCAA Runner-Up, SEC Champs, Pat Riley, Louie Dampier)

BTI Pick:  Both these teams pulled upsets in the Sweet 16 to get here.  In this matchup though, the ’66 Cats have such balance in their starting lineup, they are hard to gameplan for.  All 5 players score in double figures, with Dampier leading the charge in dishing the ball around.  Hagan would be a handfull for Thad Jaracz, but it’s not enough and the ’54 squad finally takes a loss.  Rupp’s Runts into the Final Four.

’66 UK 80
’54 UK 73


(1) 1977-78
(30-2, NCAA Champs, SEC Champs, Jack Givens, Rick Robey)
(3) 1983-84 (29-5, Final Four, SEC Champs, SEC Tourney Champs, #1 seed, Melvin Turpin, Kenny Walker)

BTI Pick: This is a great matchup between 2 teams from the same era, so you don’t have to really imagine player’s skills improving, etc.  The ’78 though probably had a little more star power with Givens, Robey, and Macy.  Yes, the ’84 team had Kenny Walker, Melvin Turpin, and Sam Bowie, but had no guards average over 9 ppg and nobody average over 3 apg.  I think this is probably the difference in this game.  The guard play of Macy keeps the game going at their speed, and his distributes the ball to Goose, Robey, and Phillips and the ’78 squad wins an entertaining game.

’78 UK 75
’84 UK 69

(1) 1992-93
(30-4, Final Four, SEC Tourney Champs, #1 Seed, Jamal Mashburn, Travis Ford)
(2) 1950-51 (32-2, NCAA Champs, SEC Champs, Bill Spivey, Shelby Linville)

BTI Pick: Who would guard Jamal Mashburn in this game?  I asked myself over and over and never came up with a good answer.  Yes, Spivey would be trouble, but people forget that Jared Prickett and Rodney Dent were decent enough defenders to probably keep him under 30 points.  Hopefully.  But in the end, Mashburn is the best player on the floor and the way he played in 1993 was nearly unstoppable.  Afraid this might have been the biggest mismatch of the Elite 8.

’93 UK 90
’51 UK 76

OK, those are my picks.  You can use the comments section to disagree and try and convince me otherwise.

Also, keep in mind when considering how these games go a couple of things:
-The 3-point shot does exist
-The Shot Clock does exist (35 second)
-Injured Players are now healthy

Article written by Bryan the Intern

16 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Bronze Medal Best UK Team Ever, Elite 8

  1. Jenkins
    9:05 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Not sure how you can put the ’97 team winning a game here – they didn’t even win the national championship that year, while being book-ended by championship caliber teams. Only good thing about the 97 team was Pitino, and even he knew to ditch their sorry butts.

  2. Ugly muffin
    9:09 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    You’ve lost me on these picks. How on earth the 66 cats are still alive is blowing my mind. They got crushed by lack of athleticism 40 years ago and yet they keep marching on. This is a waste of time

  3. Duuuuuude
    9:13 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Folks, give BTI some credit for trying to keep the fan base engaged when ther is really very little happening to discuss. These conversations prove nothing……just have some fun with it! Lighten up!

  4. BiloxiGuy25
    9:24 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    How you think a team from the 40’s could even compete with a team from the modern age puzzles me. Are these actual games that are simulated? What type of criteria are we using here? 6’9 beast athletes vs skinny lightweight players. The game has changed A LOT!!

  5. Irl
    9:42 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Did you take into consideration the effect the coach would have on the games?

  6. Wall
    9:49 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Where’s John Wall’s team?!

  7. The Bobs
    10:00 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    The amount of time/effort you’re putting into this seems a bit much for the outcome and reader experience. Cut your losses and find a better use of that time.

  8. Daniel
    10:06 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Wall, that team lost in the Sweet 16, but i will predict the 1978 team wins this.

  9. bung
    10:08 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    why hopefully keep Spivey under 30??? Bias favoring modern teams??? 4 or 5 of Rupp’s teams would clean up on the best of the new boys thanks to style of play and coaching…but thanks for articles reminding us of the great players and teams of the past.

  10. Michael F. Jox
    10:18 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    #9 – I’m usually with ya on a lot of the things you say, and I love to hear your short rants about the fastbreak, but come on dude, there’s no chance in hell that any of Rupp’s teams would stand a chance against any modern era team. Hell, I’m even willing to bet last yr’s team or any of the BCG teams would beat the dog snot out of Rupp’s Runts. Your argument just isn’t physically possible.

  11. Duuuuuude
    10:25 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    I would love to see an ongoing series of past eras, past players, where are they now. The younger folks here see the names on jerseys hanging in the rafters, but do not have any clue what their contribution to our tradition was. Perhaps any old video that broke down the old timers game would allow us to know them better.

  12. mudcreekmark
    10:41 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    10) I agree. All these posters talking trash about the teams back in the 40’s and 50’s. BTI acts like Wayne Turner would have the advantage over Ralph Beard who is considered one of the greatest players ever to play at UK. I think someone who is over 30 should be the ones debating this. I would like to get some old timers opinions on how these teams would match up with todays teams. I’m not saying that those teams could beat todays teams I just hate that they are getting trashed by these young fans.

  13. Argument
    10:58 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    I think that the older teams could possibly still play with the modern teams primarily because of the lack of fundamentals in todays game.

    The rest of the world has caught up quite a bit on the U.S teams in the olympics. Part of the reason being that the dream team increased the popularity of the sport worldwide, but also because foreign teams are typically more fundamentally solid and better shooting teams. Around here, we’ve become obsessed with making the spectacular play and dunking the ball instead of fundamentals.

  14. Young Gun
    11:25 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    How awesome would it be to have this stuff put into an actual computer simulator and run it about a thousand times? Best 6 or 7 players from each team, measure stuff like points, assists, rebounds, etc., and intangibles like hustle and discipline, and then take coaching into account, and truly see how these teams would stack up.

  15. Frew Drunklin
    11:43 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    I agree with these picks. Final four: 78 vs 97. 78 wins bronze.

  16. MJ
    11:36 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    I still have to go with the 1978 team as the 3rd best team ever. Wildcat fans were extremely hungry at the time for a National Championship. And Wildcat fans had to wait 20 years to get it. Joe B. Hall felt tremendous pressure following the legendary footsteps of Adolph Rupp. Also, when Adolph Rupp retired, Adolph watched the UK games in his Lazyboy recliner on the floor at mid-court opposite the bench. lol..Joe B was being judged by a legend in real time! Talk about pressure. I have always appreciated what Joe B. Hall accomplished when UK won the 1978 National Championship!

    I vote for 1978 team as the 3rd best team ever because both Jack Givens (Bryan Station) and James Lee (Henry Clay High School) could have played at any school in the country if they wanted to. But they chose to stay close to home and played for UK. And as a result, they joined a team that consisted of Rick Robey, Kyle Macy, (who could forget Kyle rolling up his socks as he shot free throws at a unbelievable 93%, Mike Phillips, etc. And as a team, they won a National Championship after a long drought without winning a National Championship.

    I can remember when Lexington had only 3 TV stations in the early to mid 70’s. And it was unheard of to air a HIGH SCHOOL basketball game on TV! But that happened because Bryan Station (with star Jack Givens) played Henry Clay (with star James Lee) in a tournament game live on TV. It was a big deal. Unfortunately, I forgot who won? I was only in the second grade at the the time. Does anyone remember who won this game?