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What to Expect After National Title Run


Kentucky has made it to the NCAA title game 12 times, tying us with UCLA for the most appearances of all time. (Note: UCLA has technically made it to the NCAA final 13 times, but their 1980 runner-up was vacated.)  These two programs are obviously two of the most iconic of all time, however their paths to 12 NCAA final appearances could not be more different.             Image via USA Today

UK has only won back-to-back titles one time, in 1948 and 1949.  We also had the 3 year stretch from 1996-1998 when we won two titles and made the final game in 1997.  However, there was also a 20 year title draught between 1958 and 1978, an 18 year drought between 1978 and 1996, and most recently a 14 year draught between 1998 and 2012.  Even when you sprinkle in the 1966, 1975, 1984, and 1993 Final Four appearances, you can see that there have been valleys along with the peaks of Kentucky basketball.

UCLA is best known for their dynasty under legendary coach John Wooden.  The Bruins won their first title in 1964 and repeated in 1965.  Then, in 1967, the dynasty began.  They would rattle off not 1, not 2, not 3…but 7 straight national titles before finally losing in the 1974 final four.  UCLA came back to win it all in 1975, and then 20 years later in 1995, but you can see the stark contrast between the success of UCLA and the success of Kentucky.

The point of all of this is that it got me thinking, what should a fan expect after a run to the national championship game?  To me there are two ways of looking at it.  First, you could take the approach that you must obviously be a good program, with a good coach and a good group of players.  Under this way of thinking you should be able to “plug and play” and be competitive year in and year out.  However, the second way of thinking isn’t so bright.  Maybe you reached the championship game because you had a group of 5 seniors who had stuck together and gained experience over the years. Now, this group will be graduating and you will undoubtedly experience a large drop-off.

Looking back at Kentucky’s 12 national title appearances, do our teams generally just “reload” or do we have to “rebuild?”

1948 Title- 32-2, National Champions in 1949

1949 Title – 25-5, NIT 1st Round in 1950

1951 Title- 29-3, NCAA Elite 8 in 1952

1958 Title- 24-3, NCAA Sweet 16 in 1959

1966 Runner-Up- 13-13, no post season in 1967

1975 Runner-Up- 20-10, NIT champions in 1976

1978 Title- 19-12, NIT 1st Round in 1979

1996 Title- 35-5, NCAA Runner-Up in 1997

1997 Runner-Up- 35-4, NCAA champions in 1998

1998 Title- 28-9, NCAA Elite 8 in 1999

2012 Title- 21-12, NIT 1st Round in 2013

2014 Runner-Up- ? in 2015

Image via

In summary, in year’s were Kentucky has finished as the national runner-up we have a combined record of 68-27 with a NIT championship and a NCAA championship in the year after.  After a NCAA championship we are 185-51 with a runner-up finish and a repeat NCAA championship.  So, Kentucky has a 71.6% winning percentage in years after a runner-up finish and a 78.4% winning percentage after a national title.  When you combine the records, Kentucky has a 76. 4% winning percentage when coming off of a NCAA championship game appearance.  This is nearly identical to the all-time winning percentage of 76.1%.

Brandon Ramsey


Article written by BrandonRamsey

14 Comments for What to Expect After National Title Run

  1. Juan4UK
    2:12 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

    Football time.

  2. BBN Fan
    2:29 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

    Mr. Ramsey,
    The 1996 Title Team only lost 2 games, not 5 . Please correct your post.

    • BBN Fan
      2:31 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

      Mr. Ramsey,
      The 2014 Team was 29 – 11 . I can understand not knowing 1996, but not knowing the record of a team less than a month ago, come on.

    • BBN Fan
      2:34 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

      Ugh, the 1998 record was 35-4 not 28-9.

  3. arlo
    2:39 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

    you’re not reading closely enough. the w-l’s indicate our results of the year following our appearance in the nc.

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  5. Picasso
    2:44 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

    Again, can anyone enlighten me as to why the 2014 banner is a different shade of blue from the rest?

  6. Fun Fact
    3:02 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

    Rupp hated him some colored folk.

  7. David
    3:53 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

    stop with the Rupp hated colored folk…it’s old and still unbelievably unfair and untrue; aside from that, in 1952 (with Bill Spivey sitting out until his investigation into the “scandal” would clear him) UK lost to St.Johns (a team they had dismembered in the regular season by 40 points)…one of the big upsets in UK history…and if Rupp was so racist (coached African-American kids in Illinois at the high-school level), he would have done what every other SEC coach did during those days–refuse the invitation to the NCAA tournament for fear of having his team play integrated teams…part of the reason why UK has so many NCAA appearances, is that they were sometimes the 2nd choice team to replace a team who just flat refused to be even on the court with black kids…Rupp’s worst loss came vs CCNY in the 50 NIT and against an integrated team; Nat Holman stating then that Rupp was very gracious in defeat (which is hard to imagine during ANY Rupp loss)…the national media has created this myth and propagated it with the help of Disney films, ESPN, and others who refuse to realize that Rupp was more a victim of his times than those listed wish to admit–and even though Bear Bryant didn’t integrate his team until a year after Rupp, was given a pass and was viewed by the press as just a victim of his times…hmmmm…

    • White Power
      4:52 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

      Blah, blah, blah. He hated negros and your big boy fairy tales mean nothing.

    • Black Panther
      9:37 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

      Here’s some more “blah, blah, blah, big boy fairy tales.” But you and your reTard ilk believe whatever you want, so it’s probably hopeless….

      “In the late 1920s, when Rupp coached high school basketball in Freeport, Ill. all three of his teams had a black player in a school with only six black students.” – by David Perlmutt, Charlotte Observer

      “…Among the four additional players were Don Barksdale, the first black to be named to a (Adolph Rupp coached) United States Olympic Basketball team…”

      “Frank McGuire phoned Rupp, questioning whether the player would be safe in Memorial Coliseum. Rupp declared that any fan causing trouble would be ejected and denied future admission.” – by John McGill, Lexington Herald Leader

      “The Kentucky fans were wild for their team,” McGuire said, “but they treated us with great respect.” – Frank McGuire, commenting on the St. John’s-UK game, the first time a black player competed against a state university in the South. – by John McGill, Lexington Herald Leader

      “Adolph Rupp was once asked if he would have liked to have had Wilt Chamberlain, the Philadelphia sensation who played for Kansas in the late 1950s. “Sure,” Rupp said, “but could I take him to Atlanta and New Orleans or Starkville ?” – by Chip Alexander, Raleigh News and Observer

      Kentucky was the first team in the SEC to sign black track and football players. Vanderbilt quickly followed suit, as did Florida and Tennessee later. UK attempted to sign Wes Unseld as its 1st black basketball player, but he committed to Louisville.

      “I’ve had them [black recruits] tell me, not once, not twice, but many times that they did not want to be the first to go into Mississippi and play basketball, and be right there confined in a small area, because at that time, at Mississippi State we were having plenty of trouble, and we were all white.” – Adolph Rupp, The Rupp Tape (Audiocassette), WHAS Productions

      Assistant Coach Neil Reed described a meeting of about a dozen boosters who confronted Rupp after he began recruiting Wes Unseld to try to convince him to cease in his efforts: “They started in, and I could see him (Rupp) getting angry. He looked around that room and pointed that finger of his, and he said ‘I want all you son-of-a-bitch’in-bastard racists out of this office and don’t ever come back I don’t care.’ They told him that he could have their season tickets and he said ‘give me your season tickets, they’ll last about as long as the guy can drive down here from Toledo.’ And he said, ‘I don’t want you in the Coliseum you shouldn’t be there.’ . . .They never spoke to him again and he never spoke to them. Ever. Ever!”– Neil Reed

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  9. [email protected]
    8:31 pm May 3, 2014 Permalink

    Yet some idiots wanted to fire a coach that has 3 big time banners hanging from the last 4 years. Yeah, we need Tubby ball again.

  10. Megan
    10:11 am May 4, 2014 Permalink

    What a waste of time. Pointless analysis. Meaningless results.

    We really are desperate for basketball content.