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Just How Likely Is 40-0?

Walter McCarty

John Calipari is no stranger to stirring the proverbial pot. Over the years as Kentucky’s head man, Cal has taken his fair share of good natured jabs at media members, officials, and opposing coaches, receiving a moderate amount of criticism for his actions.  He’s certainly not shy in expressing his opinions, and today, we got another somewhat controversial nugget from the man they call Cal. As previously reported, Calipari spoke at the 46th annual Baron Club Award Dinner at the Franciscan University of Steubenville about the importance of dreaming. During the speech, he addressed one of his personal goals of coaching a team that goes undefeated. “My goal before I retire is to coach a 40-0 team because they say it can’t be done,” stated Calipari. “As the season goes on, it gets harder and harder. But I say let’s do it, let’s do something crazy.” Certainly a lofty goal, but just how likely is this outcome?

This is a question Wildcat fans have been quietly asking themselves over the past number of years. Many are of the opinion that the 2009-10 squad with the addition of Jodie Meeks on the roster would’ve run the table. Now just one year after taking home a national title, many among Big Blue Nation wonder what could’ve happened if Christian Watford’s last second heave would’ve rimmed out (Don’t forget the Vandy game either). While this discussion is fun in hindsight, it’s nothing but pure speculation. However, Kentucky is expected to have a pretty solid squad next season, leading many to question if the impossible task can be accomplished.  In order to see if this is plausible, I’ve used simple probability to test the theory.

In order to come up with the figures, I simply averaged season win probabilities. Once you average the tough games with the easy ones, you should get a reasonable season total. Since we don’t know the strength of Kentucky’s schedule, I’ve estimated multiple season probabilities to get the best estimate.  The below chart contains probabilities for a team to win a variety of games in a row when their season average win probability is 80%, 85%, 90%, 93%, 95%, 98%, and 99% respectively.


(Example: If a team has, on average, an 85% chance to win every game, they’ll have a 2% chance to win 25 games in a row.)

As you can see, it’s really difficult to go undefeated from the statistical standpoint. If, on average, a team has a 95% chance to come out victorious in every contest, they’d only have a 13% chance of going unbeaten during a 40 game schedule. Even if a team has, on average, a 98% chance of winning every single game, there’s a 64% chance they don’t go undefeated.  It isn’t until a squad has, on average, a 99% likelihood of winning every match-up that it has a probable chance of going undefeated. Even then, there’s a 33% chance that they stumble somewhere along the road. Now that we know this, where will next year’s squad fall?

It’s impossible to know for certain what kind of probability Cal and his squad will have to collectively win every game. The schedule isn’t finalized yet, but there will be numerous difficult games with Michigan State, Louisville, North Carolina, Baylor, and others. Of course, it’s anyone’s guess as to the final average win probability. However, once those “toss-up” style games are averaged with the gimmie games, there should still be a high probability. For reference, 2011-12’s championship squad had around a 90% chance, on average, to win every single game. Next year’s immensely talented squad may have a better shot, but at the end of the day, it’s highly unlikely to remain unbeaten, even with a squad like this. It’s an improbable task, but if anyone’s up to it, it’s John Calipari.

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

71 Comments for Just How Likely Is 40-0?

  1. Statistics
    8:08 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Ugh, you do NOT understand me!

  2. L1C4
    8:10 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    39-1 is more likely…after Louisville whips your ass!

  3. GoCats2
    8:12 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    So, you’re saying there’s a chance?

  4. GoCats2
    8:15 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #2 pretty sad that this website still gets almost 3 times as many hits as the top 2 louisville sites combined even after you won the title. Maybe if you guys would visit your own sites instead of infecting this one those #’s would change.

  5. CaliUKfan
    8:16 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Haha I still have the home version of those shorts in my dresser, good stuff.

  6. MITCat
    8:17 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    The lack of combinatorial knowledge is impressive. This is some baseline analysis brah.

  7. KY Realist
    8:17 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Now that Russ Smith is coming back, not likely.

  8. Cope
    8:18 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    2) Dewayne you are a TOOL

  9. BUCats
    8:22 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t think the next Ken Pom is walking through that door

  10. Random
    8:23 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #2 you’ve got to be a troll because going 39-1 would still mean that UK wins the championship, moron.

  11. bung
    8:24 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    I bet the guys from the ’54 team are pulling for it…you should interview them…

  12. Hahahaa
    8:24 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    7… Ha do you really think Russ smith is gonna make a difference? That’s fuggin hilarious. He’s 5’11″… He an louisville have no chance against us next year. You must be a UL fan

  13. Random
    8:26 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #7 a 5’11 SG that shoots 41 percent from the field and has to jack up 20 shots a game to get his 18PPG average doesn’t scare me.

  14. Hahahaa
    8:28 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    7… Btw, there is no news of Russ coming back… Troll

  15. seriously
    8:30 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    it can be done but i don’t think it will happen this year. this will be the most talented team uk has ever had obviously but the sheer inexperience will account for at least 1 or 2 losses…as long as they come early in the year that’s fine by me. here is food for thought: what if this recruiting class had come in 2011, added to the trio of Miller-Liggins-Harrelson instead of Poythress-WCS-Wiltjer? I think that is a team that could have been 40-0, especially during that year of college basketball.

  16. Cal'sBeerBelly
    8:31 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Russ Smith was one of the best players in COLLEGE basketball last year and he’s coming back. We are not talking about NBA. I know that is a tough concept for you hicks and your one and done factory to understand. Cal buying players does not help his inept coaching. He proved that this year.

  17. Wild Blue
    8:34 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Would love to see the Cats go 40 & 0, but likely won’t happen. The NCAA will do everything possible to make sure Cal never archives that honor. They will make sure the refs screw us at least once during the season.

  18. TorpedoVegas
    8:36 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    16) Drop the red tinted glasses and step away from the keyboard.

  19. JKUK
    8:37 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    @16 You feel threatened by the possibility that UK may go undefeated. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.

  20. Wildcatsteeler
    8:38 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Not gonna happen. It’s that simple.

  21. JKUK
    8:39 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    I’m all upset that uofl won the title this year. I was so mad I kicked 7 of my dogs.

  22. L1C4
    8:40 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    19) LOL!!! We are the champs and you lost in the first round of the nit to Bob Mo. What a simpleton.

  23. Tdr76
    8:40 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    This 40-0 talk when this team has not even practiced together is not smart. Is this not the same pressure we put on our young team last year? This team will lose a couple games early, and everyone will freak out, then they will be really good in the end.

  24. HARRY
    8:41 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Louisville fans are such losers. they actually do something and believe they are the best…. lmfao. Got a lot of work to do to get to 8. ill never see it in my lifetime…. f$#@&^ losers, LOL

  25. hahaha
    8:43 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Very likely if we wear those uniforms all season. Screw all these new aged bull crap jerseys. We need these.

  26. JKUKu
    8:43 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    @21 The fact that you responded posing under my name just confirms what I said before. You feel threatened and insecure.

    @22 I was going to ask if you knew what threatened means, but then I remembered you can’t read,

  27. Seriously
    8:43 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    16…. Dude, it’s Russ smith you delusional wigger. Bottom line is Louisville has absolutely NO CHANCE against the cats next year… Get that through your tiny schizophrenic brain.

  28. L1C4 is LAME
    8:43 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Russ smith doesnt scare ne1 u numbnuts. Hes just a big gun who jacks it up 25 times to get his 18 pts. He was only 1 of the top players bc there was none. Look around college bball. The number 1 pick played 2/3rds of the yr. Uofl fans have no clue. Talk sports out their ass!!

  29. And?
    8:43 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    UL fans are adorable. UK has one down year and they act like the prior three seasons were an anomaly. Enjoy your 15 seconds of fame cards fans.

  30. HARRY
    8:44 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    22) Dewayne you are a TOOL

  31. JKUK
    8:46 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    @28 Exactly right

  32. Seriously
    8:46 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    If wiggins comes then there is a 100% chance we go 40-0. If the 2012 team can barely lose 2 games and win it all, then this team, which will no doubt be better than the 2012 team, WILL go 40-0

  33. Seriously
    8:48 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Anyone who thinks 40-0 isnt a great possibility is a complete moron and will be eating their words come next April

  34. Ride Runner
    8:49 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    I married my second cousin.

  35. Seriously
    8:50 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Not to mention… The 2014 teams prbly won’t be as good as the 2012 teams

  36. KT
    8:54 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    @Ride Runner – Were you both excited when Louisville won the title?

  37. Random
    8:54 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Yeah, I guess Cal actually making freaking UMass relevant and going to the Final Four shows how inept of a coach he is.

  38. Pitino's Syphilis Infected Penis
    8:54 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #16 You can’t be serious? Right? Russ Smith one of the best players in the country? Did you watch the Notre Dame game? You know the one where Smith lost that game for UofL about 6 different times….one of the best ha ha how funny. Now run along little troll and take your L1C4 (Loser 1st Cretin 4ever) moniker with you.

  39. Catlogic15
    8:55 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    “it’s impossible to know for certain what kind of probability Cal and his squad will have collectively to win every game” makes this statistically irrevelant but interesting and good fodder.

    Sure made the UL trolls that sit wound up 24/7 pounce, so that in itself was worth the read. Good job, Jonathan.

  40. Random
    8:56 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    To any lurking UL fans, do you actually believe that if UL had any Freshmen that were talented enough to be drafted in the lottery that they wouldn’t go?

  41. KT
    8:57 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Seriously, I’m surrounded by people daily who sound a LOT like the trolls on this board. I don’t care about winning all 40 but I would LOVE to beat Louisville by 40. I’m sure they will still be obnoxious but at least they will go down a notch or two on the volume.

  42. Random
    9:01 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #41 They’ll just spout some BS about how at least their players love their school and we’re cheaters with one and dones..blah blah blah, copy and paste every Louisville fan that has posted on a message board or Twitter in the last four years. I think they’ve actually convinced themselves that the last four ass kickings Kentucky gave them before we had a down year didn’t happen.

  43. L1C4 is LAME
    9:03 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Uofl fans kill me. No1 calls u a blue blood program or national power outside jefferson county. And L1C4 is the lamest thing ive ever heard

  44. Reality
    9:03 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    If Cal were not coaching this team, I would feel better about uk going 40-0. He will screw it up. He is nothing but a mascot in a suit.

  45. Bottom Line
    9:05 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    UK fans have anal bleeding because uofl and pitino one upped uk and their fat coach. Suck it losers!

  46. Random
    9:05 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Says the National Championship he’s won and the two Final Fours he’s been to in 4 seasons, troll. Remind me, how many years did it take for Rick to win one at UL?

  47. KT
    9:06 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Sigh, you’re probably right Random. My optimistic nature got the better of my logic again.

  48. R1L4
    9:06 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    He’s a bigger dumbass than he looks. He needs to get Ricky out of his ear. Ricky comes first (inadvertent pun). Rick takes care of himself and will not help this turd out next year when he has to go play in the Greenland league. Maybe Russdumpulous has never heard of striking while the iron is hot.

  49. Random
    9:06 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #45 Says the Louisville fans constantly posting on a Kentucky Wildcats site. I guess you have to continue to talk about how “great” you are considering no one outside of Louisville gives a shit.

  50. Pitino's Syphilis Infected Penis
    9:09 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #48…I love it…Russdumpulous. I laughed out loud!!

  51. Cardinal Fan
    9:11 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    3 is more than 8 right?

  52. L yeah I'm a Tard fan
    9:15 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #51 Hell yeah man I would rather have our 3 than UK’s 8 any day of the week. I also would rather have Siva over John Wall or Brandon Knight or Marquis Teague.

  53. Cardinal Fan
    9:19 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Yeah bro! Siva could have been the #1 pick in the draft after his freshman year but he stayed all four years because he bleeds red! #L1C4 #CardNation #NationalChamps #Wewishweweregangsta #65otherdumbhashtags

  54. L yeah I'm a Tard fan
    9:26 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #53 yeah man…I hear you..he would have been the Rookie of the Year in the NBA had he gone. By the way, do you want to go get a tattoo and smoke some Black and Milds sometime?

  55. Jarvis Redwine
    9:29 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    Didn’t UK go 38-2 with lesser talent in 2011-12? 40-0, although unlikely, is possible.

  56. Cardinal Fan
    9:32 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #54 Hell yeah man! I’ll bring the Crown Royal. We probably won’t live to see #4 so we might as well party while we can.

  57. Random
    9:35 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #55 I think it’s crazy to say that team had lesser talent no matter how stacked this recruiting class is on paper. Anthony Davis was a once in a lifetime kinda player. I doubt we go undefeated since we have a tough schedule and everyone slips up, but I’ll be shocked if they aren’t damn good with a great shot at the title.

  58. L yeah I'm a Tard fan
    9:37 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    #56 Let’s meet up close to campus…maybe the parking lot of the pizza box. We could tail-gate now before the NCAA declares Bridgewater ineligible and we go winless this fall.

  59. Otis
    9:38 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    This chart don’t make no sense

    It ain’t got no entry for a team that’s got 100% chance of winning every game which next year’s Cats team is

    That makes probability of going 40-0 100%

  60. dreamsof #9
    9:47 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    While this is a great incoming class, I think we still need 1-2 stronger, more experienced guys to make it happen. I predict 37 wins and minimum trip to the final four

  61. noel
    10:25 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    – All this 40-0 talk is incredibly dumb and I actually hope we lose the first game of next season just so that its no longer a distraction and

  62. noel
    10:28 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    ……….quits being discussed. We have more important things to worry about like the quest for #9. As others have pointed out, I don’t care if we make the tournament as a 12 seed as long as we win a title.

    – As for UL fans, we have 8 and you have 3. We are a far more accomplished program in every measurable aspect and CAL is still 4-1 against Pitino since he has arrived at UK. I’ll take that.

  63. Bulldawg
    11:00 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    The only thing that could beat this team next year is themselves. I don’t know what it is about free throws but if a game is tight foul shooting might coause the Cats to drop one. I hope not, but if anything gets ’em, it’ll be free throws. #40-0#9-12deep

    Go Cats!!!

  64. UKBlue1!
    11:01 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    I think next seasons team will lose 3 or 4 games. It is going to be a very good team. But there are huge differences between 2012 and 2014 team. Title #8 team had Jones, Lamb and Miller returning with major playing time experience and a final four under their belt. 2014 team has Wiltjer, Poythress and WCS returning. Only Wiltjer has NCAA tournament experience. I think top to bottom the 2014 team could end up being better but I expect due to lack of experience it will take some lumps. We play at UNC and play a very good Mich St team to start the season. I kind of expect a loss and another slip up in non-conference. There are 18 conference games. I think the league will be better. We will probably take a road loss or two. I really don’t care if the team losses 3 or 4 games if in the end it wins title #9.

  65. Bluecat
    11:44 pm April 23, 2013 Permalink

    December 28th, Rupp Arena,

    BIG BLUE, 88, dirty-assed tards, 66

    Randle, 33pts, 16rebs, 5blks

    An Harrison, 20pts, 11asst

    WCS, 15pts, 11reb, 8blks

    Wiltjer, 16pts, 5-3’s


  66. UKSoCal
    1:24 am April 24, 2013 Permalink

    That was NEARLY as informative as saying that there’s a 50/50 chance we go undefeated next year, because there are only 2 possibilities, we either do or don’t.

  67. FatBlueKid
    7:30 am April 24, 2013 Permalink

    We won’t go 40-0. All I care about is destroying City Scum and bringing #9 home. I say we go 38-2

  68. barn
    7:49 am April 24, 2013 Permalink

    he also said he would like to surpass ucla’s 11 championships. gotta love coach cal

  69. Trey
    10:52 am April 24, 2013 Permalink

    I really wish the basketball program would re-adapt these uni’s. So badass!

  70. Bluecat
    5:55 pm April 24, 2013 Permalink

    Smith is back, How much $$$$ is Pitino giving him and daddy to stay in school?

    ul is the dirtiest, cheatingest school in college basketball.

    Something smells…uofsmell!

  71. CrimsonCee
    8:17 pm April 24, 2013 Permalink

    This is so arrogant I barely need to point it out. You people should have learned your lesson this year. You had a pretty decent recruiting class if I remember correctly, why is this one so different? Check the stats on rankings – they arent a guarantee of success. No doubt it will be a very good team, but the arrogance of this… Good lord grow up. I know that living in a trailer park dilutes the ability to perform critical thinking, but for god’s sake. Youll have 5 freshman starting – they are going to lose a game.