I was not planning on posting this evening, but our fearless leader is on a 24 hour road trip, so I thought an Open Thread (with a twist) was called for.
Something that me and my UK friends discuss from time to time are the best teams in Kentucky history that didn't win a National Championship. It makes for some lively and fun debate, so I thought, considering UK isn't going to win the NCAA National Title this year, what better way to jump start an Open Thread.
Actually, discuss what you want, but I'll start off with my list of the best UK teams to not achieve the ultimate in college basketball success (not including the 1946 NIT Champions).
1. 1954 -- 25-0, 14-0 in the SEC. This team was led in scoring by All-America's Cliff Hagan (24.0 ppg), and Frank Ramsey (19.6).
UK and LSU tied for the league title after not meeting in the regular season due to a conflict between the two schools about where to play the game. They did meet in a "playoff game" at the end of the regular season, with UK winning 63-56 (the game was played in Nashville). The NCAA then declared UK seniors Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey, and Lou Tsioropoulos ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, because they were graduate students (very bo-guuuus!). Adolph Rupp denied the ensuing bid to play in the Tournament, minus his three star players.
2. 1970 -- 26-2, 17-1 in the SEC. They were led in scoring by UK's all-time leading scorer Dan Issel (33.9), Mike Pratt (19.3), and Tom Parker (10.4). They won the SEC Championship.
This UK team lost to an Artis Gilmore-led Jacksonville team,106-100, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
3. 1997 -- 35-5, 13-3 in the SEC. These 'Cats were led by All-America Ron Mercer (18.1). Derek Anderson, who played in only the first 19 games of the season, averaged 17.7, followed by Scott Padgett (9.6). Kentucky was the SEC Regular season champion, as well at the SEC Tournament Champion.
UK lost to Arizona in the National Championship game, in overtime, 84-79.
4. 1966 -- 27-2, 15-1 in the SEC. Rupp's Runts were led in scoring by All-America's Pat Riley (21.9), and Louie Dampier (21.1). Thad Jaracz (13.2) and Larry Conley (11.5) were also major contributors to this team's success. The Runts won the SEC Championship.
UK lost to Texas Western in the National Championship game 72-65.
5. 1947 -- 34-3, 11-0 in the SEC. This group was led by future Fabulous Five members and All-Americas Ralph Beard (10.9), and Lou Groza (10.6). They won the SEC regular season title and the SEC Tournament Championship.
These 'Cats lost to Utah 49-45 in the NIT Championship game.
6. 1975 -- 26-5, 15-3 in the SEC. UK was led by All-America Kevin Grevey (23.6), Jimmy Dan Connor (12.4), and freshman Rick Robey (10.4). They were co-champions of the SEC.
Kentucky lost to UCLA in John Wooden's final game, 92-85.
7. 1986 -- 32-4, 17-1 in the SEC. These 'Cats were led by All-America Kenny "Sky" Walker (20.0), Winston Bennett (12.7), and Ed Davender (11.5). They were the SEC regular season and Tournament champions.
UK lost to LSU in the Elite 8 (59-57), after beating the Tigers three times during the season.
8. 1984 -- 29-5, 14-4 in the SEC. UK was led by All-America's Melvin Turpin (15.2), and Sam Bowie (10.5), as well as future All-America , sophomore Kenny Walker (12.4). The 'Cats won both the SEC regular season and Tournament championships.
UK lost to Georgetown in the Final Four, 53-40, after shooting a negative percentage in the second half ... I kid, of course.
9. 2003 -- 32-4, 16-0 in the SEC. The 'Cats were led by All-America Keith Bogans (15.7), Gerald Fitch (12.3), and Marquis Estill (11.6). They won the SEC regular season and Tournament championships.
This team lost to Marquette in the Elite 8, 83-69, after Bogans suffered a high ankle sprain only two days prior.
10a. 1962 -- 23-3, 13-1 in the SEC. Kentucky was led by All-America Cotton Nash (23.4), Larry Pursiful (19.1), Carroll Burchett (11.2), and Scotty Baesler (10.9). They were co-champions of the SEC.
This group lost to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, 74-64.
So there you have it, my 10 best UK teams to not win the National Title.
Discuss, or treat as an Open Thread.
For those concerned: Mike Casey underwent surgery today. He did very well according to his daughter, Laura.