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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Which Title Should the Cats Have Won Most?

There is a serious argument to be made that UK could have 5 national titles in 6 years under Calipari.  They had the best teams in 2010, 2012, and 2015, only winning 1 of those.  And then the draws fell nicely in 2011 and 2014 so that when UK was bounced from the tournament they were probably the best team remaining.  Now it’s absurd to argue Calipari SHOULD have 5 titles because it’s just damn hard to win the NCAA Tournament.  But each of the 4 years he hasn’t won it (did 2013 happen?) has been difficult for it’s own reasons.

Just which of those years has the title been the MOST in UK’s grasp?  I put my rankings below:

1. 2010-11

What happened: The Cats made a fairly stunning run to the Final Four, needing a last second shot to get out of the first round.  They went on to beat the overall #1 seed Ohio State, a very talented UNC team in the Elite 8 and then joined one of the worst Final Fours in history with UCONN, Butler, and VCU.  But a horrible shooting night, including Brandon Knight’s 6 of 23 performance, led to a 56-55 defeat.  UCONN would go on to win the title.

Why Its Number 1: Despite playing quite poorly against UCONN, the Cats were a Deandre Liggins 3-pointer away from winning that game.  And there is NO DOUBT they would have crushed Butler in the title game.  While that UK team might be Calipari’s 2nd or 3rd worst team, this is the title that they could have won the easiest.  The draw in the Final Four was by far the easiest of any Calipari has faced and they essentially were 1 shot away from winning a title.  Plus, they would have gone back to back in 2012.

2. 2009-10

What happened: The Cats were the best team in the country come tournament time and the only other team that should have challenged them, Kansas, was bounced in the 2nd round.  UK clobbered 3 opponents to get to the Elite 8, where they face a 2-seed West Virginia who had over-achieved much of the season.  But a tricky defense, horrible shooting night, and WVU clutch plays sealed UK’s fate in a loss.

Why Its Number 2: A couple reasons this isn’t as bad as the 2010-11 season.  First, UK would have had to win 2 more games after this one to win the title, and Duke would have likely been a decent opponent.  No guarantee the Cats romp in the Final Four.  They likely win but who knows.  Secondly, the game against WVU really wasn’t very close.  The Mountaineers just whipped them, plain and simple.  You can’t point to one moment or play that decided that game, like you can with Liggins and 2011.  While this team was significantly better and maybe the best Cal team overall, the way they went out drops them to #2.

3. 2013-14

What happened: Despite playing inconsistently throughout the season, UK got hot at just the right time and went on one of the more memorable runs in school history.  Dramatic shot after dramatic shot vaulted them to the championship game against UCONN.  Unfortunately, a nervous bunch of Cats plus a tired roster seemed to be too much and UK faltered in the title game.

Why Its Number 3: It’s the only championship game on here so an argument could be made this should be #1.  But the fact of the matter is this team was a surprise to even get there.  Yes, losing in the title game hurts bad but that team probably shouldn’t have even had a title shot.  The Final Four and whatever happened was just icing on the cake for an amazing run.  And much like in 2010, the UCONN game wasn’t a great performance from UK.  It was close and UK had it’s chances down the stretch, but there really wasn’t a key moment to decide that game.  UK just wasn’t good enough.

4. 2014-15

What happened: The best regular season in school history, more memorable games than in any other season in history, incredible hype and coverage.  38 straight wins and it all came crashing down to Wisconsin in the Final Four.  Some questionable decisions on offense, a terrible officiating call, and poor execution led to the demise.

Why It Number 4: It’s easily the most PAINFUL loss of the Calipari era.  But that is not what this list is all about.  This is about the title’s that UK SHOULD HAVE WON.  And frankly, Wisconsin was a damn good team.  Unlike in 2011 and 2014 when UK lost to mediocre UCONN teams in the Final Four, Wisconsin was legit.  And then to back that up, would UK have beaten Duke in the title game?  That was probably a 50-50 game, maybe slightly in UK’s favor.  The point being this was the toughest Final Four UK has been in.  It hurt to lose 38-0 and all of that.  But what if this team was 36-2 instead.  Don’t you think the 2010 and 2011 losses would have been considered bigger disappointments.  Looking at it rationally, this was not the title that was easiest for UK to win.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

34 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Which Title Should the Cats Have Won Most?

  1. CatsBy80
    9:08 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    Didn’t even read the body… the answer is simple. ’09-’10. That team had an elite point guard, an elite center, a very good shooting guard (bledsoe) and several other NBA players sprinkled in. That team was hands down the best team in the country and it wasn’t even close…. I understand that the ’14-’15 cats were loaded, as well; but, they didn’t have the elite point guard on the court.. Anyway you want to cut it, the SEC was down last year and that was a huge factor as to why we were 38-0… And I’m not a troll, I’m a realist.

  2. android guy
    9:31 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    For me, the Wisconsin game is the one we should have won. The Cats weren’t just the best team in the country, but would probably have won nine out of ten against any other team in the country. Wisconsin just happened to roll the lucky dice that night. Had it been a “best of seven”, that would have been their only win, and probably the only game in single digits.

    • asdf
      9:32 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

      That loss was because of the weight of history. Wisconsin was irrelevant to the outcome.

    • Gamer
      10:12 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

      That loss was because Wisconsin was the better team! They were that night for sure and quite possibly they would be the better team 9/10 games played. Just because you root for UK and can’t accept that “better athletes” don’t always equal “best team” doesn’t make it any less true!

    • ukjaybrat
      10:41 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

      @Gamer, you need to define better… “better” is not the word i would assign to wisconsin’s team. They weren’t a better team than kentucky. they just played a style of ball that exploited the one weakness we had on that team. Their bigs’ ability to shoot from range opened up the court more than any other team all year could do. forced more one on ones and thus devin’s defense weakness. It’s not rocket science. there were other factors too. but to claim wisconsin is a better team is like saying a pocket knife is better than a steak knife at cutting things. Cutting most things, the steak knife would win hands down. but in very specific scenarios, the pocket knife would have it’s advantages.

    • Gamer
      11:29 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

      Allow me to define “better”. The winner of a head x head matchup is considered the “better” or the two teams. I’ll leave defining what made them a “better” team up to you.

    • UK Big Board Update
      1:12 pm August 6, 2015 Permalink

      Gamer = cats paw

      Win 9 out of 10…. HA!!

    • Leuther
      1:08 am August 7, 2015 Permalink

      Wisconsin didn’t even win the championship – losing twice to Dook…

  3. Nerds
    9:44 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    Kentucky lost the Wisconsin game due to terrible late-game coaching, plain and simple.

    • Syrin
      10:36 am August 6, 2015 Permalink


      We have a winner. KSR keeps ignoring the fact that Cal is a TERRIBLE coach when it comes to games that matter.

    • ukjaybrat
      10:45 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

      i didn’t know that coaching had anything to do with turnovers… thanks for enlightening me. now go blow pitino/petrino on your own blogs

    • Dude
      2:04 pm August 6, 2015 Permalink

      Coach K is 1-4 vs #1 seeds in the tournament. I guess you could say the same about him too, then.

    • Nerds
      4:15 pm August 6, 2015 Permalink

      @Syrin My post said nothing about Cal being a terrible late-game coach. He just didn’t a great job in the most important game that season.

      @ukjaybrat It’s funny that anyone who speaks the truth or calls things for what they are, you instantly assume it’s a UL fan talking trash. I’m a UK alum and I was there for the UK/Wisconsin game. You’re right about something…coaching doesn’t have anything to do with turnovers. But when you have three shot clock violations in three consecutive trips down the floor, it is up to the coach to pump the brakes and make the correct adjustments. UK started trying to run the clock down with six minutes to go. That’s coaching. You could see they were playing not to lose. So, in actuality, you are most welcome for being enlightened.

      @Dude I didn’t think we were here to discuss other coaches and their records against number one seeds. If you can’t stay focused long enough to at least talk about the topic at hand, maybe you should go elsewhere.

    9:45 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    This article made me “throw up in my mouth a little”…thanks for indigestion on a rainy day!

  5. caliparty
    9:51 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    We would have crushed Duke in the Final Four in ’09-’10. No doubt.

  6. BtownUKFan
    9:57 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    Any loss that was not the championship game is pure speculation. The fact is we had the better team in 2014 but our offense sputtered and we lost makes it #1. The 2011 game is second, the path had been cleared all we needed to do was take care of lesser UCONN and beat Butler…again our offense sputtered. 2010 and 2015 are difficult to say just because we would have faced very good teams to finish the tournament. I know we had the best team in both 2010 and 2015 but we still would have had to play very good games to win it all. 2011 and 2014 would have been championships with average play.

  7. post
    10:13 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    BTI definitely has a way with posts. The topics are so wildly negative and subjective they make you cringe. Article might as well have been titled, rank the 4 most painful moments as a UK fan in the past 6 years.

    At least this wasnt as bad as the “Most Complete Athlete” post, that was downright impossible to read.

  8. James K
    10:21 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    I think the loss of Willie really killed us in 2014, and despite all the things we had stacked against us, that was a close game with six minutes left.

    I rewatched the Wisconsin game yesterday (because I’m a masochist, I guess) and whoever said it was a ‘roll of the dice’ is out of their mind. Wisconsin had a thorough gameplan and they executed it flawlessly. Their individual players made plays and they straight up beat us. We made stupid mistakes down the stretch that sealed our fate. We should’ve been feeding Karl on those last few possessions and we just didn’t. We should’ve stopped switching absolutely every ball screen action because Bo Ryan KNEW Cal wouldn’t adjust.

    I dunno, I just have a problem with UK fans skimming over the fact that UW was a very, very worthy opponent. If anything, Arizona fans have a gripe because of what Sam Dekker did to them. He didn’t do that to UK.

    • J-Dub421
      10:48 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

      Losing Alex midseason hurt us last year. If we’d had Alex, we’d have beaten Wisconsin because he would have neutralized Sam Dekker.

  9. Denny
    10:42 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    He is a great recutter. But coaching ?? Not the best.

    • ukjaybrat
      1:24 pm August 6, 2015 Permalink

      he’s going to the hall of fame.. so he’s better than a lot of people give him credit for. he may not win all of them but he’s been to one or two final fours…

  10. ukjaybrat
    10:43 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    “Plus, they would have gone back to back in 2012.”

    I think you have, but i know others have said this time and time again… but if we won the championship in 2011, terrence jones would not have stayed his second year and we would not necessarily have won the 2012 championship as certainly as people think…

  11. lexslamman
    10:48 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    2010-2011 for me, just because of Jorts. One of my favorite Cal era games to replay is the bare-knuckle affair with Ohio State. Watching Harrellson abuse Sullinger down in the paint is one of the finest moments in UK basketball history.

  12. Bluethruandthru
    11:03 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    T. Jones turns pro if we win it all in 2011, meaning we don’t win it all in 2012 with him gone. So it’s a wash.

    • BCinVA
      1:08 pm August 6, 2015 Permalink

      This is a very interesting point, Bluethru. We would have won in 2011 if TJ makes some free throws, too.

  13. RD64
    11:19 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    Going back a few years to 1984, the F4 game vs. GTown with Patrick Ewing. UK led 29-22 at half time but shot 3 for 33 in the 2nd half.

    • Angelo
      11:46 am August 6, 2015 Permalink


  14. UKBlue1!
    11:19 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    Would’ve, could’ve and should’ve’s. I’ll take four final fours and a Title. IT beats the 10 years before Cal came to UK.

  15. Robert Layne
    11:30 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

    SIMPLE. In EVERY case, it was the failure of the Head Coach to motivate and coach his team, PERIOD. If you have unquestionably the best horse (players), and your jockey just can’t seem to win the big ones, then you have to take a look at the jockey and his weaknesses. Cal is not and can not motivate his players. He gives orders. He must try to learn to give the pep talk, motivate, and get his players fired up. Cal recently said his team was relieved to lose to Wisconsin. If that is true, there is no one to blame for that but the coach.

    • J-Dub421
      11:48 am August 6, 2015 Permalink

      A coach can only coach. The players have to execute on the court. Remember in the NBA playoffs when David Blatt called a play, and then Lebron just went and did what he wanted?

    • bluethruandthru
      1:02 pm August 6, 2015 Permalink

      I get so sick of comments like this. The NCAA is the hardest tournament in sports to win. Just ask Duke, who only has FIVE in the history of the program. Also, are you telling me Cal didn’t motivate the 2013/14 team that was left for dead before the tournament started to get to the final game?? Beating Wichita State, Wisconsin, Michigan, etc. along the way? Get a life.

    • BCinVA
      1:11 pm August 6, 2015 Permalink

      Yep, yep. Cal “failed” us all the way to the title in 2012, all the way to the final four 4 other times. What a shameful record of “failure.”

    • Dude
      1:17 pm August 6, 2015 Permalink

      These idiots…. where do they come from? That was the weakest argument I’ve ever heard.

    • theSkinny81
      1:41 pm August 6, 2015 Permalink

      “EVERY case”

      I guess Cal should just pick up a Knute Rockne How-To book, and we’ll catch UCLA in no time.
      Its that easy.

      Thanks, Robert Layne, you idiotic moron hater! 🙂