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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Conspiracy Theories Examined-Kentucky’s NCAA Draw

I am skeptical by nature, and thus I rarely subscribe to conspiracy theories.  9-11 was orchestrated by Muslim terrorists, Kennedy was killed by 1 man, we really did land on the moon, so on and so on.  I have found for a fanbase with 7 national titles and more wins than any other school, there are MANY conspiracy theories that fans have about the program.  For a school that the officials, NCAA, and every other person try to cheat, we sure do win a lot of games.  But anyway, one of the theories that fans tend to bring up in March every year is that the NCAA will screw us with the toughest draw possible.  Again, it’s amazing we are given the toughest draw every year but have 7 national titles.  Doesn’t that seem to suggest otherwise?

But I will bite this time.  I went back to the last 3 times that Kentucky was seeded 3 or better.  Unfortunately, I can not find RPI numbers for anytime before then.  But, I listed the top 8 or 9 seeds in Kentucky’s region in those years, along with their RPI number coming into the tournament.  But, what you will especially want to look at is what ranking those teams had COMPARED TO OTHER TEAMS SEEDED THE SAME.  If Kentucky was getting screwed, then the teams in their region would be the best at that seed.  Right?

I only picked years when Kentucky was seeded 3 or better because frankly, if you are not good enough to earn a Top 3 seed, then you are not good enough to complain about your draw.  You have to EARN a good draw.  And only those teams with top 3 seeds have EARNED it.

(Teams in bold won their conference tournament, indicating they were HOT coming into the tournament)

Record: 32-2, RPI: 2
SEC Champs (Regular Season and Tournament)
Seed: 1 (ACCURATE)

2 seed: West Virginia (RPI: 4, Best RPI)
3 seed: New Mexico (RPI: 10, 3rd Best RPI)
4 seed: Wisconsin (RPI: 21 , 2nd Best RPI)
5 seed: Temple (RPI: 8, Best RPI)
6 seed: Marquette (RPI: 50, 4th Best RPI)
7 seed: Clemson (RPI: 34, 4th Best RPI)
8 seed: Texas (RPI: 29, 2nd Best RPI)
16 seed: East Tennessee State (RPI: 121, 2nd Best RPI)

ANALYSIS: Kentucky came into the tournament as the likely #2 overall seed.  Nonetheless, they DID receive a very tough draw within the Top 5 seeds in their bracket.  West Virginia was likely the top 2-seed, Temple was the best 5-seed by RPI, and UK only got 2 teams that were the worst on their respective seed lines, Marquette and Clemson.  Hell, Temple came into the tournament with a Top 10 RPI and won their conference tournament, but were given a 5-seed.  But, although the draw LOOKED tough, it played out perfect for Kentucky, with Cornell pulling upsets.  It finally bit them in the Elite 8.

Record: 28-6, RPI: 11
SEC Regular Season Champs (Tournament Runners-up)

1 seed: Duke (RPI: 4, 4th Best RPI)
3 seed: Oklahoma (RPI: 24, 4th Best RPI)
4 seed: Syracuse (RPI: 23, 3rd Best RPI)
5 seed: Michigan State (RPI: 12, Best RPI)
6 seed: Utah (RPI: 17, Best RPI)
7 seed: Cincinnati (RPI: 25, 2nd Best RPI)
15 seed: Eastern Kentucky (RPI: 63, Best RPI)

ANALYSIS: This draw depends on how you look at it.  On the one hand, most of the power in that region was on the other end of the bracket, with Duke, Syracuse, and Michigan State unable to face UK until the Elite 8.  That left Kentucky with mid-majors on it’s side, like Utah and Cincinnati.  And while those teams were fairly strong, they still feasted on weak competition most of the season.  But, according to the RPI, Utah and Cincinnati were actually strong compared to other teams of the same seed.  Overall, this was a very fair draw for the Cats, in my opinion.  Not easy, but manageable.

Record: 26-4, RPI: 4
SEC Tournament Champs
Seed: Overall 1-seed (ACCURATE)

2 seed: Gonzaga (RPI: 17, 4th Best RPI)
3 seed: Georgia Tech (RPI: 7, 2nd Best RPI)
4 seed: Kansas (RPI: 10, Best RPI)
5 seed: Providence (RPI: 25, 4th Best RPI)
6 seed: Boston College (RPI: 23, 3rd best RPI)
7 seed: Michigan State (RPI: 38, 4th best RPI)
8 seed: Washington (RPI: 69, 4th best RPI)
9 seed: UAB (RPI: 31, Best RPI)
16 seed: Florida A&M (RPI: 253, 4th best RPI)

ANALYSIS: This draw was absolute CAKE.  Out of the top 9 seeds, only 2 of the teams were the best at their particular seed in the RPI.  5 out of the 8 were the worst or 2nd worst at their seed.  Add to that, Kentucky’s 2 seed in this bracket was a mid-major Gonzaga, and the committee basically tried to push UK to the Final Four.  The Zags were also the only team that won its conference tournament.  Unfortunately, 1 of the 2 teams that were best at their seed was UAB, and that was who tripped UK up, but an overall #1 seed has nobody but themselves to blame for losing to a 9-seed.  The committee was not to blame.


The way I see it, that’s 3 tournaments and 3 different draws.  UK’s draw last year was absolutely more difficult than deserved.  But the other 2 years it was either a fair draw or an easy draw.  If the NCAA is giving Kentucky a tough draw every year, or at least the years they are good, the numbers don’t back that up.  I find this to simply be an EXCUSE by fans to reason out the 13 year Final Four drought.  Instead of blaming the actual players for not stepping up, or giving the other team credit, fans place their blame in other directions, and that is gutless.  Man up, admit sometimes teams are better, and stop coming up with conspiracies.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

51 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Conspiracy Theories Examined-Kentucky’s NCAA Draw

  1. jimmy dykes
    9:07 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    nailed it first

  2. Mike Taylor
    9:10 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    It’s hard to make a fair and accurate analysis when only going back three years. Also you have to look at more the RPIs to consider whether a draw is fair or not. You need to consider injuries, where the games are being played, and potential matchup problems teams may propose. For example Syracuse and their gimmick defense is always a tough draw. Does UK get paired with more difficult to prepare for gimmicks than other schools?

    Personally I do not think UK gets screwed in the pairings. But I do believe that Duke gets more favorable match-ups and game locations than anyone else.

  3. The Real Pioneer
    9:12 am March 8, 2011 Permalink


  4. Bryan the Intern
    9:13 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    2) I truly wanted to go back further, especially to those 1990’s teams. But I couldn’t find RPI numbers that far back.

  5. Mike Taylor
    9:14 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    BTI- Yeah I read that you were limited in finding more numbers. But it is an unfair bag of data considering that one of those was a Gillispie year, so we were screwed no matter what!

  6. Bryan the Intern
    9:16 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    5) No, last year was Calipari and the other 2 years used were Tubby teams.

  7. JP Wilson
    9:18 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    I still can’t get over that UAB loss. We had an excellent team that year that would have walked to the Final Four had it not been for effing UAB. AHH! But let’s enjoy this team now and hope we can sneak in the Final Four. Lesssgggooo!

  8. Go Deep
    9:18 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    If you are good enough to win the championship then every draw is fair. Just beat whoever they put in front of you, period. If you can’t beat a tough 9 seed then you probably wouldn’t have beat an extremely tough 1, 2 or 3 seed who by that point have won a few games themselves.

  9. Jimmy Dykes' Vocabulary
    9:19 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    BTI, it would be extra work and not just a list but you can see team RPI’s for old seasons on statsheet by looking at the team page.

  10. Scared to be a fan
    9:19 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    Let me help everyone out…

    Duke just wins their games in the tourney. It may seem like they have “easier” roads because they win, but no 10 seed is better than other 10 seeds. UK should have run through their bracket like Duke did last year. We didnt, so we say Duke has an easier bracket. Come on, we played Cornell, and a terrible Wake Forest team. Maybe WVU was the better 2 seed than Nova (who lost early, imagine that BE losing early), but overall neither bracket was more favorable than the next.

  11. Bsb Coach
    9:20 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    I agree w/#2. Check out Duke’s draw(s) if you get the chance. I’m pretty sure last year’s draw was VERY favorable.

  12. Mike Taylor
    9:20 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    I’m still on my first cup of coffee… 2004 is like 2008 in my brain 😉

  13. Grammar King
    9:20 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    You mean last year was CALIPARI and the other two were Tubby.

  14. Grammar King
    9:21 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    Okay, already corrected.

  15. knightynight
    9:22 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    It’s all about match-ups and play on any particular night. Inconsistency runs rampant in college basketball – they’re still kids. That’s why every championships comes with a little luck.

  16. deer boss
    9:25 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    BTI….nice work, but i’ll disagree about the UAB loss. I think that game was a match up nightmare for us. Just like this year, the draw (perceived difficult or not) will be based upon mathcups.

  17. Screw the Orange
    9:25 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    You’re such a debbie downer BTI, say something positive every now and then Forde Jr

  18. Boogiewoogie
    9:27 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    “Just win baby”-Al Davis

  19. BTIs_RA
    9:29 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    Interesting post young grasshopper… I like the premise… it would be really interesting to look at Duke and see how they compare. Nice work!

  20. Truesdell
    9:41 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    1948 – 8 teams made the tournament
    1949 – 8 teams made the tournament
    1951 – 16 teams made the tournament
    1958 – between 22 and 25 teams made the tournament
    1978 – 32 teams made the tournament
    1996 – 64 teams made the tournament
    1998 – 64 teams made the tournament

    Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 Kansas (2), Duke (4), North Carolina (3), Connecticut (2), and Florida (2) have all won as many or more tournament titles as UK. You can’t really argue that we “got hard draws” and still won 7 titles. There were no at-large bids for a long time, so every team that made the tournament had won their conference tournament and was thus a “hard draw”. I’m not saying we get a hard draw. Only 6 schools have won multiple titles over the past 26 years. UCLA has only won one out of their 11 championships since 1975. Do they get tough draws? I’m sure they have on occasion. Do they get easy draws? I’m sure they’ve received those as well. The difficult thing is to win six games against top competition over 3 weekends. That’s why only the best schools, with the best talent, and the best coaches are able to do it more than once.

  21. Roach K
    9:42 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    The real scandal last year wasn’t the difficulty of our own draw, but rather the ridiculously easy path that Duke drew. They were given a cake walk that would have easily gotten any one of 20 teams to the final four. And everyone knew it as soon as the brackets came out.

  22. Kevin Bacon's Dancemoves
    9:43 am March 8, 2011 Permalink


    Where will the KSR crew be in Atlanta?

  23. bung
    9:43 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    yes the ncaa has always been very fair to Kentucky

  24. Scared to be a fan
    9:47 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    20 – everyone always uses the arguement, “the modern era”. Didnt all those other teams play basketball in 50s and 60s? I hate the modern era arguement it is weak. Every college had the same chance as Uk to make and win the tourney in the 50s and 60s, but no one else did it like UK!

  25. Runnin'Ramel
    9:50 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    UK should have beaten West Virginia last year on talent alone (though let’s face it, West Va had a 1st team AA and another draft pick in Ebanks), but they were without question the top #2 seed, and the reason they were put with UK is because Syracuse was gifted the #1 seed after Onuaku was hurt – but Boeheim played coy so that the Committee wouldn’t hold it against them. West Va should have been put with Duke, though, that’s for sure. I know it wasn’ta big factor, but you can’t ignore the fact that West Va was playing us in the Carrier Dome, where they are familiar shooting, compared to UK being there for the first time. Everyone says that gym is difficult to play in for the first time. All in all, the perfect storm to keep UK out of the Final Four last year. Shooting 3-389 from downtown was just another piece of that.

  26. Blueburg
    9:50 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    21 is correct.

  27. Truesdell
    9:56 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    24 – 40s, 50s, 60s when the powers of San Francisco, Oklahoma A&M, and Cincinnati all won multiple titles.

  28. bg
    9:58 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    BTI–serious question that you may remember/be able to research. In 2003-04 didn’t Tubby let Nolan Richardson sit in on a closed practice the day before our game? Then Nolan presumably took that info to UAB, as he was seated behind their bench and on the court with them when they won.

    Granted, that UK team still should have been able to handle UAB, but I’m shocked that more wasn’t made of this at the time(if it’s true).

  29. bung
    10:01 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    we werent even invited in 50 after back to back Titles….Rupp refused to play in tourney in 52 when he was undefeated and #1 in every poll..ncaa death penalty in 53, no season due to ccny team investigation…Rupp said he would make that ncaa #$%^# hand him the trophy and in 58 he did…..overnight mail envelopes pop open when people walk by them…everyone plays LSU 4 times in a season….and Enes had a great year. modern era means nothing…all teams play with same rules every year. Rupp was greatest coach ever….sticky defense…relentless fast break…fluid halfcourt….3-0 vs wooden

  30. Coach Enes
    10:02 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    How about the 2003 season? Don’t have the info on the other seeds, but we were the Overall #1 Seed yet got sent to play up north right in Marquette and Wisconsin’s back yard. Bogan’s ankle may have ultimately been the diffence (plus that D-Wade fellow), but defintely didn’t seem like the NCAA was rewarding the Overall #1 Seed and it’s traveling fan base.

  31. Bg Cat
    10:14 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    I Think I Speak 4 Everybody When I Say Real Pioneer Needs To Stfu About Troy Mckinley. Nobody Cares. Most On This Site Probably Dont Even Remember Him.

  32. barn
    10:14 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    -28-i remember very clearly. when i first heard it i thought someone was making a joke. when i realized it was true i couldn’t believe our great ots could do such a dumb thing. i guess tubber figured everyone already knew everything there was to know about his strategies and techniques.

  33. Tom Blevins
    10:17 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    Carl Hess was one of the officials in our loss to Marquette in 03 and in our loss to UAB in 04. When Kentucky made a run near the end of the game against Marquette, he made a questionable walking call against Josh Carrier to kill any chance Kentucky had of winning. (To be fair, our chances at that point were slim at best, but he took what little chance we had away, and I didn’t see Carrier walk) The next year against UAB, Hess made a critical late charging call against Azubuike when the UAB player wasn’t set. We wound up losing by one. Durring this season, Hess was announced as one of the officails in one of our SEC road games. I said, “Well, we’ll lose this one.” We did! I don’t think there is any great conspiracy against Kentucky, but I do think Hess is prejudiced against us.

  34. Runnin'Ramel
    10:20 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    28 / 32 – I sat at midcourt, row 8-9, just a few seats over from Nolan Richardson. I got those seats through UAB when the tourney brackets were announced Sunday night, so I guess I will always believe I cursed us in a way. That said, Nolan and I exchanged greetings at the concession stand, because our seats were right by each other, so we kept running into each other throughout the weekend. I saw it with my own eyes. He was literally flashing hand signals to Mike Anderson on the sidelines, and you know, if you watch that tape, UAB was just always a step ahead of us. Was Nolan calling out UAB plays that he was suggesting? Highly unlikely. Especially since it was just days after attending a UK practice.

  35. Runnin'Ramel
    10:23 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    33 – it was a pathetic charging call against KAZ. It was a big swing, too, because I think we were up 4 at the time. Instead of going up 6 late, UAB came down and hit a bucket (maybe even a 3) to make it a one possession game. The phantom 5-second call on E. Daniels was also one of the worst calls in tournament history. The ref’s hand clearly hit 4 when he blew the whistle. Garbage. That game will always stick in my mind as a complete screw-job on every level.

  36. drpatky
    10:39 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    There is a very strange photo of Coach Cal on the Courier Journal website. Can anyone figure out what the photo half-way down the page is supposed to be?

  37. BiWinning
    10:42 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    1) Last year UK got a tough draw (happens sometimes)
    2) Last year, Duke got one of the easiest draws in the history of the 64 team tourney

    The best thing about March Madness though is that anyone in the tournament has a shot at going deep (except maybe the 14, 15 and 16 seed). Anyone remember George Mason from a few years ago? Any team can hit their stride and go at a top seed who is having a bad night and win. Honestly, I bet just about every team that’s won a championship would attribute at least a little of that to luck (a team in their bracket that is a horrible match-up gets upset the round before, etc). It’s a part of the tournament.

  38. 1FAN
    10:50 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    good job BTI

  39. web application stress test
    11:11 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    BTI – I know that most people give you crap on here, but I appreciate the analysis. Stats are usually more in play for baseball, and it’s cool how you spin them for BBN roundball. Thanks and keep it up.

    I agree with some of the comments above about refs. It has seemed to me at times that certain refs are against us. Could just be perception, but I bet BTI can find those stats too!

  40. rupp's grunt
    11:11 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    Another half-assed post by BTI. Way to pull a mere three appearances in the tournament, of all UK’s trips over the decades, and use it to support your lame hypothesis.

    Did you consider other mitigating factors such as venue? Well, of course not. Why don’t you compare how many times the Cats were seeded in the west while Duke or Carolina played their games in or near North Carolina?

    The NCAA makes UK an overall number one, or maybe a two, then sends them to Idaho or something to play, while a three or four seed Carolina or Blued Evil team plays it’s early games in Charlotte. Sound familiar?

    There is an obvious conspiracy within the selection committee to make UK travel; first, so UK will be out of it’s comfort zone, and second, so that they can take advantage of our rabid fanbase to ensure a sellout. Even if UK loses early (which they hope, make no bones about it), the NCAA gets their cherished money, which is all they really care about.

    As a full 70% of your posts are puerile nonsense, maybe you should reduce your output in an effort to improve quality. Take the next 40 years off, then come back and try again. With any luck I’ll be dead by then.

  41. rupp's grunt
    11:17 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    On the lighter side, have you ever seen a mug shot of a guy so happy to be arrested?

  42. Musehobo
    11:51 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    Hello my name is BTI…I draw conclusions from data that is limited.

  43. Brad Bleeds Blue
    11:58 am March 8, 2011 Permalink

    Ahh, BTI; you, sir, are nothing if not the king of flawed logic and selective statistics. Also, just as a sidenote, someone who is skeptical by nature would be the most likely type of person to subscribe to a conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theories are formed by people who are SKEPTICAL of the official and most obvious explanation. Just a helpful tip for you, my friend.

  44. ukchampion
    12:00 pm March 8, 2011 Permalink

    BTI – I’m pretty sure if you’re skeptical by nature then you WOULD believe in conspiracy theories, not the other way around.

    Bottom line: I think we need to make a good run in the tourney, and really learn what it takes to play a full 40 minutes. otherwise we just simply will not beat a top 5 team. i just don’t see us beating a top 5 team, period. unfortunately.

  45. kittylitter
    12:01 pm March 8, 2011 Permalink

    The NCAA doesn’t set out to screw UK in my opinion, but like others above stated, they do seem to go out of their way to accommodate Duke. I have always believed that and last year they didn’t even try to hide it. Kansas was the overall #1 seed last year and they, in my opinion, got the toughest region. How many times in the past 15 years has Duke gotten seeded higher than they probably deserved? How many times have they gotten to play in North Carolina in tourney games? For whatever reason, Duke is the NCAA’s darlings and I suppose will always be. If UK is ever a #1 overall seed again and a regional final is in Louisville, do you think they will allow UK in that region? No way. Duke needs to go ahead and build a big arena so they can host regionals every year and get to play at home.

  46. Allen
    12:21 pm March 8, 2011 Permalink

    I wouldn’t say that someone is out to get UK but you completely overlooked the real issue. The real issue is DUKE always gets the easiest road. If Carolina is a top seed also then that means that both will play in the state of NC or just across its border. You will never see PUKE being sent out west somewhere! FACT!

  47. ukchampion
    12:56 pm March 8, 2011 Permalink

    BTI – it is truly a shame that you are so willing to do the research and gather facts on different topics, yet you are completely helpless when it comes to shaping the facts into a coherent argument.

    of course the selection committee does not put ALL of the best teams in our bracket, they are not stupid. but… last year, for the only seed position in our region capable of beating Kentucky (the 2 seed), they put a team (WVU) that deserved a no. 1 seed (or at least the first no. 2) in the same bracket as the #2 1 seed. can’t you see how blatantly twisted that is you fool?!?!?

    the fact is there is no “conspiracy” – the people that use that word are inarticulate dolts. but there is a strong bias. the individuals on the selection committee are humans therefore they are biased. whether they are biased against Kentucky/Calipari or simply biased toward getting the results that they perceive are best for “college basketball” (i.e. denying success to the one-and-done team, and celebrating the success of the wholesome team of “student-athletes”), who knows but that’s not the point.

    this reminds me of something you said in the past that if the NCAA was conspiring against us they would have hit us hard for the Bledsoe controversy. now, do you think if they would have mad the OUTRAGEOUS decision to hit us hard for the Bledsoe case where there was nothing there, then they could actually get away with the OUTRAGEOUS decision to permanently ban Kanter? NO. think about it.

    i’ve wasted enough time now. piss-poor post though.

  48. Just saying
    3:03 pm March 8, 2011 Permalink

    UK only gets screwed compared to UNC and Duke. Ive never seen a tournament where those two teams dont get to play virtually at home. Hell if they could allow Duke to play at Camaron, they would

  49. Just saying
    3:07 pm March 8, 2011 Permalink

    47, UK should have destroyed WVU last year, yes they were the first #2, or last #1 depending on how you look at it, but there is NO REASON UK shouldnt beat a team without their starting PG with John Wall and Eric Bledsoe. ANd dont give me the “3 wasnt falling”. UK has 10timesthe talent as WVU last year and should have run right past them (Like DUKE did), but we melted down, cussed the refs, and were totally outcoached. That game still boils my blood, there was no reason UK should have lost that game

  50. Lloyd Christmas
    7:30 pm March 8, 2011 Permalink

    we played elite eight games in syracuse, texas, and canada…duke plays elite eight games in charlotte, durham, raliegh, or cameron indoor

  51. Ky76
    9:44 am March 9, 2011 Permalink

    Do the same test compared with Duke….and UNC….I can only recall one tourny that Duke got “screwed”…the other 33 times….they got cake.