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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: UK’s History as a #1 or #2 Team

We all know that the expectations for the Kentucky basketball team coming into this season are extremely high.  And with that ranking comes fans expectations that a national title is a realistic goal this team could have.  And anything less than a Final Four would be a huge disappointment.

But, what does that high ranking generally mean for season success?  As amazing as it seems, Kentucky has only been ranked in the Top 2 of the preseason AP poll 8 times in the last 42 years.  So, just how good did those 8 teams turn out?  Below are the major stats for each of those squads:

2011-12
Preseason Ranking: 2
NCAA Tournament Result: NATIONAL CHAMPS
NCAA Seed: 1
SEC Result: 16-0
SEC Tournament Result: Runner-Up
Final Record: 38-2

1995-96
Preseason Ranking: 1
NCAA Tournament Result: NATIONAL CHAMPS
NCAA Seed: 1
SEC Result: 16-0
SEC Tournament Result: Runner-Up
Final Record: 34-2

1993-94
Preseason Ranking: 2
NCAA Tournament Result: 2nd round (Marquette)
NCAA Seed: 3
SEC Result: 12-4
SEC Tournament Result:
CHAMPIONS Final Record: 27-7

1983-84
Preseason Ranking: 2
NCAA Tournament Result: Final Four (Georgetown)
NCAA Seed: 1
SEC Result: 14-4
SEC Tournament Result: CHAMPIONS
Final Record: 29-5

1980-81
Preseason Ranking: 1
NCAA Tournament Result: 2nd Round (UAB)
NCAA Seed: 2
SEC Result: 15-3
SEC Tournament Result: Quarterfinals
Final Record: 22-6

1979-80
Preseason Ranking: 2
NCAA Tournament Result: Sweet 16 (Duke)
NCAA Seed: 1
SEC Result: 15-3
SEC Tournament Result: Runner-Up
Final Record: 29-6

1977-78
Preseason Ranking: 2
NCAA Tournament Result: CHAMPIONS
NCAA Seed: No seeding in tournament
SEC Result: 16-2
SEC Tournament Result: No tournament held
Final Record: 30-2

1969-70
Preseason Ranking: 2
NCAA Tournament Result: Elite 8 (Jacksonville)
NCAA Seed: No seeding in tournament
SEC Result: 17-1
SEC Tournament Result: No tournament held
Final Record: 26-2

So, what are the final stats for these 7 teams combined:
National Champions: 3 out of 8
Final Four: 4 out of 8
SEC Regular Season Champs: 7 out of 8 (The 1994 team only won East Division)
SEC Tournament Champs: 2 out of 6
#1 Seed in NCAA Tournament: 4 out of 6
25-Win Season: 7 out of 8

I think this shows us one major thing, and that is that all of these teams were really, really good.  All of the teams were SEC champions in one way or another.  All the teams had over 20 wins, and 7 of the 8 had over 25 wins.  But the NCAA Tournament is maybe the greatest crap-shoot in sports. The best teams rarely win the whole tournament, and just making the Final Four is a 50-50 proposition.  I would say that only the 1994 team was NOT a Final Four caliber team, and yet only 4 of the other 7 teams actually made the Final Four.  That being said, if you told me that Kentucky had a 50% chance to make the Final Four right now, I would take that in a heartbeat.  I hope you would too if you are being realistic.

On the other side of the coin, the 1978 and 1996 teams made it happen during the tournament, and I would say that before their tournaments, they would already be called the best 2 teams of this group.  So, the most elite of elite UK teams usually prove it during the NCAA Tournament.  This years team could be on that level, but we won’t know until the season starts.  And until this team can put together 6 wins in late March and early April, all this preseason hype and ranking doesn’t mean jack.  Even a 30-win season and SEC title don’t mean jack either.  This years team will revolve around 6 games and 6 games only. And the above stats show that.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

12 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: UK’s History as a #1 or #2 Team



  1. daniel
    9:08 am July 30, 2013 Permalink

    comeback cats??????????????????????????



  2. bung
    9:12 am July 30, 2013 Permalink

    joe b done purty good…



  3. cracka
    9:13 am July 30, 2013 Permalink

    well, those last couple of times are looking pretty good



  4. Really BTI
    9:13 am July 30, 2013 Permalink

    Really BTI? The best team rarely wins?

    2001: Duke
    2004:UConn
    2005: UNC
    2007: Florida
    2009: UNC
    2012: UK
    2013: UL (ugh)

    7 of the past 13 years, the clear best team in the country won. That’s not “rarely.”



  5. Grammar King
    9:14 am July 30, 2013 Permalink

    1) Looks like 1997-1998 team’s highest ranking was #3, which would exclude them from this list.



  6. Bluegrass
    9:29 am July 30, 2013 Permalink

    Judging from the first two:

    It doesn’t matter if we’re ranked #1 or #2 preseason – we will finish and enter the tourney #1, but have to lose the SEC Championship in order to win the National Title.

    Or can this year be the year we finally win it all SEC Regular Season, SEC Tournament, and National Title? I sure hope so!



  7. Oogie
    9:33 am July 30, 2013 Permalink

    Another way to look at it: the very best of these teams generally got the job done. Four of these teams had only 2 losses, and three of them won the championship. Preseason ranking doesn’t always translate into an elite team in the end.

    Conclusion: if this team lives up to its hype, it should go a long way in the tournament, and it has a good chance of coming out on top.



  8. bung
    10:00 am July 30, 2013 Permalink

    will the coaches teach the 13 team to fast break or do we once again volunteer to go in the half court set every time down?



  9. Scott Baio
    10:49 am July 30, 2013 Permalink

    4. “Rarely” isn’t the right word to use in your scenario of the last 13 years. But in the last 13 years the best team only won 53 percent of the time. So, it’s no gaurantee the best team will win.



  10. Happy
    12:10 pm July 30, 2013 Permalink

    Well, BTI is back and at it again. Not a bad article,,,but….I’d still like to put him in a burlap sack and beat him with a cat tail. Something about you BTI that makes me want to just punch you in the face….kinda like that guy in Stepbrothers.



  11. Craig
    12:38 pm July 30, 2013 Permalink

    In response to #4

    In 2013, UL was ranked 2nd in both polls leading into the tournament.
    In 2009, UNC was ranked 2nd in one, 3rd in the other.
    In 2007, Florida was ranked 3rd in the AP leading into the tournament, and 6th in the March 5 coaches poll (can find no poll after the conference tournaments)
    In 2005, UNC was ranked 2nd in both polls.

    It’s easy, in hindsight, to say “the best team won.” If Ohio State beats Florida in 2007, then they who had been overall number 1 coming into the tournament would be listed by you as “the best team winning.” Same with Illinois in 2005. If Indiana or Kansas had won last season, you’d likely be saying “the best team won.”

    Usually, one of the 3 or 4 best teams wins. Sometimes the best two face each other in the championship. But there’s some serious hindsight bias in saying all those teams that won were the best team.