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Rick Pitino Compares ‘96 Kentucky Team to Duke

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Rick Pitino continues to be Rick Pitino.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Pitino Compares 96 Kentucky and 16/17 Duke

Rick Pitino spent a weekend this summer in Miami honoring the 1996 Kentucky Wildcats National Championship team. It is universally recognized as one of the greatest teams in college basketball history.

That team featured six players that would play prominently in the NBA for years. They lost just two games all season long. Here is how impressive this team was and these comments are from Pitino’s own mouth:

I think in modern times, that Kentucky team with a 24-point average of victory, averaging 94.1 points per game in a much tougher SEC- I think they were one of the best teams of all-time with eight players that played in the NBA and the 13th man on that team was Nazr Mohammed. That was a great basketball team, but I think Duke rivals that basketball team in terms of talent.

That’s lofty praise and he’s right on the money about everything. Except the very end where he says that this current Duke team rivals the ‘96 team. When I read that sentence, the record in my brain scratched to a halt.

How does he compare the two?

They’ve got a fifth year guy (Amile Jefferson) who’s a terriffic rebounder and basketball player and they’ve got great shooting. great coaching, and a great system. They’ve got it all. They’re very deep and they’ve got two of the best in Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles- the one and two ranked high school players in the nation. They’re as good of a team as I’ve seen i the modern era.

For one, there was a 38-1 Kentucky team that was as good as we’ve seen in the modern era even though they didn’t win it all. I also find it interesting how he singles out Amile Jefferson. He’s a nice player, but I don’t think he will be the key if Duke does win a championship. For Pitino to have such a negative view on the one-and-done system, I find it funny how he lauds Duke for their one-and-done guys.

Pitino is known for his ridiculous and hyperbolic statements and this may be near the top. Duke is loaded with talent and will be very good this season, but to compare them to an all-time great team before they have even played a minute of basketball is ridiculous.

But this isn’t the first time he has compared one of his teams to the ‘96 ‘Cats. He has compared some of his Louisville teams to them as well. And he was wrong then as well.

If what he said about Duke wasn’t crazy enough, Pitino also said he is confident that the NCAA will not sanction his team any more for the Katina Powell sex scandal. It’s like if he says it enough, it will be true.