Kentucky basketball cannot avoid the wrath of 2020

Posted December 22, 2020 at 12:52 pm


by Michael Rains

2020 has been a year we will never forget. It started out with the wildfires in the western United States and Australia, Kobe Bryant and his daughter’s tragic deaths, COVID-19, and even murder hornets arrived in America. COVID-19 has dominated the world since March. We have seen schools shut down, church services altered, businesses closed or locked down, mask mandates and sports seasons cancelled. Needless to say, it has been a trying year for all of us, and I keep hearing countless people say they cannot wait for normalcy to return and for this year to end.

All of us who cheer for the Kentucky Wildcats Basketball team were hoping for some normalcy when the season started in late November. As usual, Kentucky started over with a new roster of freshman this season and had a preseason ranking in the top 10. That has become the norm under current head coach John Calipari. Kentucky has basically become a one-way track to the NBA. Most of the players stay for one season, then they enter the NBA Draft. Kentucky has had 41 players selected in the NBA draft since 2010. Usually this has not been an issue. Calipari brings in more All-Americans and the program keeps rolling.

Well, this is 2020, and it has seen Kentucky get off to a historically bad start. It does not help that there are 11 former Kentucky players on NBA rosters that could still be playing for the Wildcats this year. Kentucky has lost five games in a row after winning their first game of the season. To put this in perspective, I will give you a brief history on the dominance of Kentucky Basketball.

Kentucky has dominated college basketball for almost 100 years. Here are some facts to back this up. Kentucky’s ranking in the following areas:

• All-time wins: #1 with 2,319

• All-time winning percentage: #1 winning 76.3% of their games.

• NCAA Tournament Appearances: #1 with 58

• NCAA Tournament wins: #1 with 129

• NCAA Tournament games: #1 with 181

• NCAA Championships: #2 with 8

• NCAA Championship game appearances: #1 with 12

• NCAA Final Four Appearances: #2 with 17

• NCAA Final Four Wins: #2 with 20.

• NCAA Elite Eight Appearances: #1 with 34

• AP Top-10 finishes in the final rankings: #1 with 45

• AP Number 1 finishes in the final rankings: #1 with 10

• Southeastern Conference Regular Season Championships: #1 with 49 (next closest is LSU with 11).

• Southeastern Conference Tournament Titles: #1 with 31 (next closest is Alabama with 6).

• All-Americans: #1 with 55 players being named All-Americans.

• 11 former Kentucky players/coaches have been named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

• Kentucky is the only program to win National Championships in 5 different decades.

• Kentucky is the only program to make a Final Four in 7 different decades.

• Kentucky is the only program to have 5 coaches win a National Championship (Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, Rick Pitino, Orlando “Tubby” Smith, and John Calipari).

• Kentucky has had more 30 win seasons (14) and 35 win seasons (6) than any other program in America.

While Kentucky has only played six games this season, they have lost five of them. The last time this happened was 1927. To put this in perspective, Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States, the Great Stock Market Crash was still a couple of years away, the attack on Pearl Harbor was 15 years away and Alaska and Hawaii would not become states for another 33 years. Kentucky has only had two losing seasons in the last 93 years (1927, 1989). While there is still hope for a winning season, this is a team unlike any other I have ever seen play at Kentucky and they have a lot of improving to do. I think myself and the millions of other Kentucky fans always take it for granted that Kentucky is going to be good (it’s just assumed). Then 2020 hit, and it has become apparent that Kentucky Basketball is not even immune from the craziness of 2020. With that being said, my fandom for the Big Blue will not change at all!! I am looking forward to my next trip to Rupp Arena on December 29th.

Michael Rains

(Michael Rains holds the office of Clinton County Attorney and is a life-long University of Kentucky athletics fan)