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Comparing Kentucky to Teams of the Past (Revision)

One of the Commonwealth’s most important holidays is merely weeks away. You may be thinking of everybody’s favorite drinking holiday, St Patrick’s Day, but that’s not exactly what this basketball crazed state is most looking forward to. You could also be pondering the famed “National Waffle Day” on March 25th, but this state, as a whole, isn’t exactly looking forward to that either.  If you haven’t gathered it by now, I’m talking about March Madness, the annual collegiate basketball tournament which burns millions of dollars in workplace productivity annually. As it currently stands, Kentucky should find themselves in the field of 68 after an excellent win over Missouri.  But, given college basketball’s current state of unpredictability, that status could change in the blink of an eye. Since there’s so much mystery in Kentucky’s current and future state, no one knows for sure how we’ll finish the season.  Because of this, I examined multiple years of college basketball to determine how statistically similar teams of the past related to 2013 Kentucky.

If you remember, this was a subject that I’ve already touched on earlier in the season. In that previous experiment, which was conducted on January 14th, I concluded that Kentucky was in no real danger of missing the tournament.  However, much has changed in recent weeks with the season ending injury to Nerlens Noel. Because of the resulting drop in both human and computer rankings, it needs to be revisited on where Kentucky compares to teams of the past in order to predict our future. Like the first study, I’ll be doing the comparison using’s advanced statistics.

Some of the categories may be confusing to some, if so, here’s a brief explanation of the above terms.  Adjusted offense/defense does nothing more than tell you how efficient an offense/defense is per-100 possessions.  By comparing like this, teams who play up-tempo styles aren’t favored over teams like Wisconsin who play glacially slow. The “Pyth” column you see above stands for Pythagorean Rating. It’s simply a rating that combines offensive and defensive efficiency, giving a mathematical indication of how strong an individual team happens to be.

As you can see, there have been numerous teams since 2008 which have been statistically similar to the current version of Wildcats. Fortunately for our tournament hopes, every single team with a similar offense and defense made the tournament field.  However, once those teams made it to the tournament, things didn’t go so well.  Of the eleven similar cases, seven of the teams were eliminated in the round of 64.  Only four were fortunate enough to make it beyond that round, but of those four, three were eliminated in the round of 32.  Only 2011 Marquette was lucky enough to play in the Sweet 16, but they were then defeated by North Carolina.   While there’s no guarantee that Kentucky even makes the field, if they do, history says it won’t be pretty.

Undeniably, there are many other factors to account for when critiquing an NCAA Tournament selection.  Strength of schedule, wins over quality opponents, and streaks entering the tournament are all factors which can earn a spot in the big dance.  While those factors determine the field more so than the above advanced metrics, they do, however, give a good estimate of where Kentucky should finish if all things are held constant. These advanced metrics do a good job of predicting the future, but no one knows for sure if Kentucky will be selected for the tournament. While the numbers indicate that we’ll be dancing, the only thing we can do to assure a spot is win.


Article written by Jonathan Schuette

11 Comments for Comparing Kentucky to Teams of the Past (Revision)

  1. SnarkitySnarkSnark
    10:08 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    I bet everyone of those teams had a signature victory. We need to beat Florida and/or have a strong showing in the SEC tournament to lock up a bid, in my opinion. Team’s looked great the last couple of games. Poythress has a different look in his eye. I like our chances, but we still have some work to do.

  2. tdogg40330
    10:23 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    1) I agree, its lookin better and better though. I wouldn’t be surprised to see
    UK winning out and then playin on Sunday for the SEC tourney title ….

  3. DWade
    10:43 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    I guess what I would want to see is the strength of the field of previous years.

  4. here ya go
    10:44 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    this is the other side of the Kentucky effect.. when you are not dominating as a Kentucky team then you are considered subpar, even if you are an average or above average team.

  5. The Rock
    10:49 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    Any news on Randle or Wiggins?

  6. dave
    10:53 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    1-true, but even if we go 2-2 to end reg season & win only 1 SECT game we’ll finish 22-11.
    only way i’d see us getting left out is if they take ole miss/bama/tenn/arky ahead of us if we lose to them (if possible) in SECT.
    last year, USF got in at 20-13, NCSt at 22-12, texas at 20-13 and though zona at 23-11 was left out last year.

  7. just saying
    10:58 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    No one on this site see that Clint Hurtt was named in serious NCAA sanctions including “unethical conduct” and “misleading NCAA direct questioning”, and likely to suffer the “show-cause” rule. Hurtt and UL declined comment???

  8. dave
    11:02 pm February 25, 2013 Permalink

    ….and NCSt, UT, USF, & UVA had rpi’s of 50-51-52-53 while all getting at-large bids, and UK’s stands at 46 right now.

  9. Laker Cat 18
    9:14 am February 26, 2013 Permalink

    Those other teams don’t have the raw talent this UK team has and they sure as heck don’t have Coach Cal on the sideline. I’ll take an underdog story with this team. Less pressure and more likely for surprise. I can see these guys putting it together like the Knight/Harrelson team did a couple years ago and knocking off some top dogs.

  10. STEVE!
    2:06 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    Agree with DWade. Fortunately for us, the overall strength of this year’s field will probably not match most of those in the comparison, so our 0.8697 might not be as bad as it first appears.

  11. JimmyMackey
    4:25 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    I like to hedge my bets, but when it comes down to my favorite teams, Kentucky is just worthy of watching and cheering for. I would like to have better odds though. I watch a lot of sports so I started using my DISH Hopper to find my games. My DISH friends I work with come over on weekends and watch games. I know when the game is and where to find it because the DISH Game Finder app lets me know the channel, time and if it is playing in my area or not, so I don’t get everyone over there and find out it isn’t on air.