– Recently, a writer for a message board in Ada, Ohio, (big place eh?) wrote an article about both UK and UCLA basketball championships, and how UK did not deserve to win some of these. This is his article…
“Secondly, Kentucky and UCLA (and Kansas to a lesser extent) have played in far inferior leagues to Indiana and North Carolina. The Big 10 and ACC, previously the Southern Conference, have long been the best and most competitive leagues in college basketball history.”
“ The obvious implication is that since only one team could make the NCAA tournament from 1939 through 1974, the best teams were not always in the big dance. By competing against inferior in-conference competition, UCLA and UK were constantly getting into the tournament when they might not have been as good as the second or third-place clubs in the superior Big 10 and ACC. Thus they simply had more chances to win the tournament than other teams as good or better.”
“As for Kentucky, their first two NCAA tournament crowns in 1948-49 were accomplished by having to win just three games in an eight-team field. At the time the NIT was considered as big a tournament as the NCAA, which also detracts from the accomplishment.”
“In 1951, the tournament expanded to 16 teams and UK captured its third crown behind seven-foot center Bill Spivey. In the year immediately following that win Spivey was removed from the team due to his potential involvement in point-shaving scandals. It soon was revealed that stars from the 1948 and 1949 NCAA title teams also shaved points in those seasons, and Wildcat/NBA All-Stars Alex Groza and Ralph Beard were banned from the game when the shocking news filtered out.”
“In 1958, Kentucky was never ranked number one all season and was rated ninth in the final regular season poll. West Virginia and Cincinnati, led respectively by superstars Jerry West and Oscar Robertson, were ranked one and two in the final poll. Yet UK, which edged past Auburn to win the SEC title, hosted the regionals on its own floor in Lexington. With that distinct advantage, the Wildcats got a first round byeand then crushed Miami of Ohio. They then knocked off eighth-ranked NotreDame to reach the Final Four, which was also held in the Bluegrass state at Louisville’s Freedom Hall. Playing before a mostly pro-UK crowd in Freedom Hall, the Wildcats trailed fifth-ranked Temple 60-59 with 27 seconds to go. Standout Owl guard Guy Rodgers missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity. Clutch Wildcat Vern Hatton made the game-winning basket to put the home-state team into the finals against upstart Seattle. Hatton scored 30 points and UK won 84-72 to become the first team to win the NCAA tourney with as many as six losses. Clearly they were not the best team but benefited from playing all their games at virtual home sites, while also avoiding the top three ranked teams in the nation, who were all beaten by other squads.”
“In the semifinals (1978 Final Four) Kentucky played SWC champion Arkansas, a fine team led by the “Three Basketeers.” The Razorbacks had been ranked number one briefly in mid-February. But when Arkansas center Steve Schall made a late inside basket that could have led to a minor upset, he was instead inexplicably called for a phantom fifth foul that disqualified him from the game. “
“In 1996, they won banner number six over Syracuse and UMass in a weak Final Four….Due to its ratings-grabbing tradition and status as number one seed, UK received a relatively smooth UCLA-like path to the Final Four.
“But the favorable fate of a nice draw once again shone on Kentucky (in 1998). They whipped a pair of unranked opponents in S.C. State and St. Louis to reach the Sweet 16. Once there, they took apart 19th-ranked UCLA….In the Final Four, the Wildcats avoided number one ranked NorthCarolina, which was upset by Utah in one semifinal. The Utes had already upset defending national champion Arizona in the West regional final. In its semifinal, UK rallied again from a double-digit deficit to tie Stanford late with the aid of a controversial held ball call in the final seconds and forced overtime at 73-73. Once there, the Cardiac ‘Cats edged the Cardinal 86-85.Before the title game Kentucky then received an assist from Senegalese Tar Heel reserve forward Makhtar Ndiaye, who accused white Ute forward Britton Johnsen of calling him the “n-word” during the semis. Ndiaye was scoreless in the game and had come to UNC as a transfer amid rumors of questionable character, but Johnsen was assumed guilty despite his denial. The racial uproar was a distraction to Utah, but they still ran out to a 41-31 halftime lead the next night behind the play of their lone black starter, guard Andre Miller. Yet for a third straight game the ‘Cats rallied from double figures down to pull out a 78-69 title victory when Utah ran out of gas late.”
“In light of all this information one could argue that of UK’s seven NCAA titles, at least three were shaky at best, particularly 1958 and 1998, and to a lesser extent, 1978 and 1996. In the latter two years they probably had the best team but received breaks to win the tournament, especially in 1978 withsome shaky officiating. And let’s not forget that UCLA and Kentucky, because of their blue-blood college basketball status, got away with NCAA violations that would have stripped them of titles and/or crippled their programs for years had they been treated as non-celebrity programs.Kentucky’s storied hoop history is probably the most dubious of any big-time program, as it has been checkered by much downplayed controversy and outright wrongdoing. From its involvement in point shaving scandals in the 1940s and ’50s, to Rupp’s racism (UK never had a black player until the early 1970s), followed by Joe B. Hall and Eddie Sutton paying players in the 1970s and ’80s, the Wildcat program has long been the poster child for what is wrong with college basketball.”
“In the late 1980s when UK’s litany of violations were finally made public in an expose series in The Lexington Herald newspaper, the NCAA merely slapped a two-year probation on the renegade program when they could have instituted the death penalty or something similar that would have crippled it for years.This disproportionately slight penalty allowed UK to woo Pitino to the program and rebuild it quickly. Using a style of play that violated the spirit of the game with non-stop three-point bombing and constant harassment and fouling amid relentless fullcourt pressure, they quickly became competitive again as they simply wore opponents down.”
“One might also argue that of the top five programs all-time, only Indiana has traditionally fielded teams over the years of home-grown in-state players.”
“The last truly top-notch player from Kentucky to play for UK was arguably Rex Chapman back in the mid-1980s, and before him was Jack Givens from 1975-78.”
“It would be interesting to see how many of Kentucky’s 2,000+ wins (they became the first program to break the 2K barrier in 2009, followed closely by UNC) were garnered against inferior competition. My guess is that 35-40 percent of the Wildcat total wins are at the expense of vastly weaker foes than Indiana or the Tar Heels played.”
– In his second paragraph he says that only one team out of each conference could make the NCAA championships, and UK and UCLA were always in it because we were in inferior conferences. First of all let’s name big ten basketball teams that have won a national championship ever. Ya the whole conference has like 4. Congrats. Second who plays in the big ten? Northwestern– never good ever and never will be. Ohio State– decent recently but before this not good. Michigan- good for like 3 years, Chris Webber years. Wisconsin– all they have really done is hustle after loose balls. Purdue– Recently really good, before 2000’s people didn’t even know that this was a team. Penn State– no comment. Minnesota– Go Tubby! But really nothing to say about them. Michigan State– Probably the only legit team. Iowa- no comment. Illinois– Ok. Didn’t they have Alex Legion?
– Obviously Indiana does not have any competition except for Michigan State, and they really can’t compete with them anymore. Also, for North Carolina, the ACC is practically Duke and North Carolina. Those are the only teams that they send to the NCAA’s on a regular basis. How does getting in the NCAA’s from an inferior conference give you an advantage in the tournament anyway? Don’t we have to play your SUPERB winner of the Big Ten? Hmm.. Now that I think about it THAT was actually our advantage.
– Yes we only had to win three games in 1948, but so did you, and did you win? I didn’t think so. If you had even MADE the tournament, you would only have to beat three teams too. BTW, the NIT was the National Championship in the 1940’s, so it does not subtract from our championship. If you didn’t make the NIT, you were not a good team. In 1958 we won and we weren’t ranked #1 all year… Wait was Duke ranked #1 all year this year? That’s right, it doesn’t really matter. We hosted the regionals, which did give us an advantage, but not a huge one, because we have to give a fourth to a half of the tickets away to the other teams and fans. Apparently in 1958 we were not the best team, and we won the championship according to him. Ok, we WON the National Championship, how are we not the best team?
– In 1996 we had a smooth run to the national championship? The final four was weak? If I read correctly UMASS was pre-season ranked #5 in the nation, with Syracuse #6. PRE-SEASON, so it looks like we were playing competition. In 98 maybe we got an easy draw because we were the #2 team in the nation. As for St. Louis and S.C. State, if you are the #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, isn’t a lock that you don’t have to play a ranked team your first two games. See 2010 tournament. If Indiana was a #1 seed they wouldn’t have to play anyone either. IF we could rally from double digit deficits in the national title game, I think we were good. Also, Utah was the #3 team in the nation for practically the whole year, so I think they were pretty good. Also, about Rupp being a racist. Yes, we didn’t have a black player till 1970. As a matter of fact almost no one did. Till this day, Indiana still hasn’t fielded an African American anyway. Also, if you want to say that we got off easy in the 1980’s with the NCAA, maybe you should look at your program recently with Sampson. What did you get? Ya like one scholarship taken away. Who cares if you recruit in state players? Maybe that’s why you have only won 2 National Championships, and have continually missed the tournament. Ya 30% of our wins is against teams worse than us. Everyone plays bad teams. EVERYONE. Let’s look at your schedule for last year.
– Your schedule includes Howard, USC Upstate, George Mason (you lost), Northwestern State (not even Northwestern), UNC Central, Loyola (which you lost), Boston University (you lost), and Bryant. Good non- conference schedule right there. In your 1981 championship you were a 3 seed, and played UAB in the sweet 16, so I won’t even get into the rest.
– Alright I’m done and this is a long article, but hey Indiana guy, how do you like your chickens cooked? Roasted or Grilled? Hold on, I just heard a big BOOM. I guess that means you like them ROASTED.