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Sports Illustrated names Kentucky college basketball’s 2nd best program


“Sports Illustrated” is finishing up its list of the Top 20 current college basketball programs, and not surprisingly, Kentucky is near the top. SI’s Andy Glockner ranks Kentucky as the 2nd best college basketball program in the sport right now behind Kansas. Here’s the top five:

1. Kansas

2. Kentucky

Really for the reason that Calipari’s operation feels like more of a comet than a star. The Wildcats are burning bright and are annually the biggest story in the game, but last season put a small dent in the armor of Calipari’s annual build model, and more coaches now feel they can beat Calipari for strategic recruits.

The consistency and stability in Lawrence is just better. They have been masterful under Bill Self, and were outstanding under Roy Williams. The future is looking really good, too, if Self continues to recruit at his current level. There are a lot of rumblings he could strike big at the top of the Class of 2014, and the groundwork would be in place for another extended run of excellence.

As for Calipari, each program he has left has not been able to maintain his level of elite performance, and we have seen Kentucky fade a bit (over time under Tubby Smith) and then crater (under Billy Gillispie), and that doesn’t even include last year.

This choice will look pretty awesome if Kentucky rips Kansas for the national title in April, but for now, the Cats will have to settle for second.

3. Duke
4. North Carolina
5. Michigan State

I can see Glockner’s point about stability, and Kansas landing Wiggins definitely gave them some more recruiting mojo, but if you’re an elite player, I still think Kentucky remains the gold standard. If they bring home #9, that’ll just make it indisputable.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

34 Comments for Sports Illustrated names Kentucky college basketball’s 2nd best program

  1. Musehobo
    2:35 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    The stability point I get. But we outweigh Kansas in so many other areas it shouldn’t even be close. If we are truly talking about the “best program in college basketball”, it isn’t even really close. And that’s with me taking off my homer hat.

  2. bmt22033
    2:40 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    @1 – it’s all about the clicks. BBN *knows* UK should be #1 so the author agreeing with that results in less people clicking and reading his article than if he says UK is #2. Then you have BBN going “WTF?!? That’s non-sense. Let me click on this link and see how this guy can possible justify that non-sense!” But he’s not so crazy after all because clicks = $.

  3. Bleed Blue
    2:49 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    @1 I don’t think Glockner is talking about all-time, I think his basis is off the past 4-5 years. But my point for posting is that Self has never been able to do well with the one-and-done type players. I don’t see that changing this year. I have heard rumors that Self is already having trouble with Wiggins. I know Self has said that he would like to coach in the NBA and depending on how this year goes, if the right team comes calling I could see Self leaving.

  4. Cats, Cats, Cats
    2:51 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Does anyone else see the irony in him picking Kansas because of “stability” while then stating “they could strike big at the top of the 2014 class”? Guess what type of players that would mean they will be signing? That’s right………………a class of potential one and dones. Ooops.

    Yet somehow, that sets Kansas up for “an EXTENDED RUN of excellence”. Go figure.

  5. UKBlue
    2:52 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Slow news day & the idiot just using UK & the BBN trying to get clicks for advertisers; nothing to see here.

  6. tom
    3:00 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    KU is a safer pick for Glockner because..heaven forbid…a national writer would embrace Calipari. That said Ms T, can’t agree with you that title 9 would make it indisputable, although it would certainly help solidify the argument. The real test for Kentucky, as Glockner correctly observes, comes after Cal. Who do we bring in to sustain the success? We did that well after Rupp by bringing on Joe B. But, admittedly, we have been a little spotty in that regard in recent years.

  7. lonnieb
    3:21 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    The headline said RIGHT NOW….that means last few years……not when tubby was coaching. uk IS college basketball right now….it is what it is and there is no other brand like it at this time. We were the biggest story of the year last year when we struggled and thats crazy. The spotlight has never been bigger than rigth now. Everytime a recruit picks UK its a topic on all sports shows.etc…..

  8. lonnieb
    3:23 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    @6 TOM

    He said RIGHT NOW….not in 2020

  9. inlinefor9
    3:23 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Not going to give it the click, but come on. I would put KU 4th of those five. Let’s just look at it since 2000.

    Duke – 2 championships
    UNC – 2 championships
    UF – 2 championships
    UConn – 2 championships

    KU and UK have each won once since 2000 and UK’s is more recent. I understand UK went to the NIT so that must be his sole reasoning here.

    Since their championship KU has lost in the Championship, an elite 8, twice in the Sweet 16, and once in the Round of 32 (as a 1 seed). So the authors only rational argument is that KU has not gone to the NIT recently, because mnus that, Cal’s program at UK has been better. Elite 8, Final Four, Championship. He’s choosing not winning it all but being more consistent over all whether the school actually won a championship

  10. Awat
    3:34 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t necessarily disagree with Kansas at the top. Last year’s production and end of the year results more than likely lost the top spot for us.

  11. Google analytics
    3:37 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Great idea by ranking anyone other than Kentucky at the top, I haven’t seen this many clickthroughs on their site in a while!

  12. Journalistic Integrity
    3:39 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    More quality reporting/op-eds from the people who employ Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans, two models of modern journalistic integrity and quality.

  13. WildcatFaithful
    3:42 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    “No way Jose!” Not buying it – KENTUCKY will always be the HEADLINER and ku the sidebar. Besides, since when has SI been anything but critical of our program, coach and fans?! Really could care less what that raggedy bunch of print baiters think.

  14. bbr
    3:59 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Just exactly how is ku going to strike it big in recruiting next year when they only have 3 seniors? We know Wiggins will also be gone, but seriously, who else. If Self loses a lot of underclassmen this year and has to depend on next year’s recruiting class he is in trouble. 1) He has typically not done well with freshmen – his players take longer to develop 2) Next year’s recruiting class is nowhere near as strong as this year’s or the 2015 class. Even bringing in 2 or 3 top ten players is not going to give him elite level talent

  15. trey
    4:02 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t they come up with articles like this every year? Websites make up a top 10 of best all-time, last 10 years, or best now and always have us at 2 or 3 just for the BBN to flock to their page. I’m sure ESPN, Yahoo, or B/R does the same thing annually.

  16. John
    4:15 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby Smith won more NCAA tournament games at Kentucky than Roy Williams and Bill Self did at Kansas during the same time period. He also won more NCAA tourney games during his FINAL THREE SEASONS at Kentucky than did Kansas during the same time period.

    Kentucky has won more NCAA tourney games, won more championships, gone to more final fours, and more elite eights than Kansas over the past 4 years.

    Glockner’s entire argument is based on only two things, one of which is speculative, not a fact:

    1) Kentucky was terrible for two years due to the hire of Billy Gillispie

    2) Calipari might leave Kentucky while Self remains at Kansas (or Kansas hires an equally great coach) and then Kentucky might again hire a coach who is not as good.

    Some real deficiencies in reasoning / cognitive capacity.

  17. twnky
    4:22 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    HE JUST WANTS HIT ON HIS PAGE!! Don’t fall for this crap.

  18. Troy
    4:22 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    SI is smoking crack. Why is Kansas more “stable”? Because we put 3-7 guys in the NBA EVERY year since Calipari joined. Kansas is more stable because they don’t have the same success!

  19. Judy
    4:26 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    I respectfully disagree with Sports Illustrated but that is nothing new. I believe Kansas is at #2

  20. Musehobo
    4:32 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    John is correct. The numbers simply don’t add up. A two-year blip with Billy Gillispie does not = instability. It was a problem that was corrected more quickly than any other school would have. Remember how all of college basketball was making fun of us saying “you didn’t give him a chance”? Kansas wasn’t a better program 50 years ago, 20 years ago, or in the past 5 years. We all know this.

  21. Shawn
    4:40 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    They have less championships, less wins, a lower winning percentage, weaker recruiting classes, weaker draft classes, and just lost to us In the championship game 2 years ago. I can definitely see why they are the better program.

  22. RahRah
    4:51 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Eh, let’s see what he says in April.
    Hey, where’s UofL? hahaha

  23. SissyPants
    5:42 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    The Kentucky ego is a fragile little thing. BBN should grow a pair.

  24. Give me a racoon, please.
    5:52 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    I’m a little surprised by Duke at 3 ahead of UNC. That program is just a coach. When he is gone, they are back to a 10-25-type program. UNC is with Kansas and Kentucky as the places that every college coach wants to be. I consider those the top 3 and its so close that I can’t honestly say I can pick Kentucky objectively. My non-Kentucky fan friends say it is Kentucky at #1 though, except the bitter ones who went to IU/UT/etc. And no doubt if you are talking historically because we have more wins and more titles.

  25. Wild Turkey 101
    6:55 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Do championships mean anything to Sports Illustrated? UCLA isn’t even in their top 5. Kansas only has 3, that’s not enough to be #1.

  26. Scotch
    7:05 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Its the best program recently and Kansas has been in the title game 3 times over the last 10yrs. And Bill Self never misses the tournament.

  27. N. B. See
    8:09 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    This is unacceptable.

  28. C. B. Ess
    8:10 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    This is not acceptable.

  29. Ehhh Be Sea
    8:10 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink


  30. E. S. P. Innis
    8:11 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink


  31. Jen
    8:15 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    “They had it before you, they had it during you, they’ll have it when you’re gone.” — Al McGuire

    Yeah, that clown Gillispie hurt us, but we were still Kentucky. It’s not as if Cal won our first national championship in 2012.

    And we had the greatest recruiting class of all time in 2013, will have a better class than Kansas in 2014, and may have the latest greatest recruiting class of all time in 2015.

    Oh, we also beat Kansas for the national championship in 2012 in a game that wasn’t close. That was the latest beating in our historical dominance of them. KU, you’re no UK and never will be.

  32. SimpleJack
    8:43 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    Wont know if it was the greatest recruiting class of all time until AFTER the season. And way to follow up that NC Title with a 1st rnd loss in the NIT.

  33. theSkinny81
    8:58 pm September 27, 2013 Permalink

    32 – In typical Louisville fashion, you went full retard.

    No Card love in the top 5? I thought you all had the best program in the history of basketball?

  34. [email protected]
    2:18 pm September 28, 2013 Permalink

    33- well played sir