Sports Illustrated ranked the top-10 national championship teams of this decade and the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats came in at No. 1.
As you may remember, John Calipari’s squad was loaded that year with a mix of veteran leadership and elite freshmen.
Here’s what SI had to say:
While it did not enter the final weekend unblemished the way Kentucky’s 2015 team did, this Wildcats squad was closer to undefeated than you might remember, with its only losses coming on a December buzzer beater at Indiana (No. 9 in that season’s final KenPom rankings) and in an uncharacteristic collapse in the final minutes of the SEC title game against Vanderbilt (No. 16). Davis was the runaway player of the year, but it was this team’s balance and unselfish cohesion that made it truly special, with a team of five underclassman starters (aided by senior sixth man Darius Miller) playing beyond their years. Kentucky’s 2012 title put the common knocks on both coach John Calipari and teams built around one-and-done players to rest and in turn put the previous decade fully in the rearview, ushering in the 2010s in earnest.
Kentucky finished 38-2, tying the NCAA record for wins in a season. The team’s two losses were by a combined eight points and according to KenPom, they ranked No. 1 in adjusted efficiency margin, No. 2 in adjusted offensive efficiency, and No. 7 in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Championship game starters included Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, and Anthony Davis.
Davis ended up being named National Player of the Year in a landslide before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. He was also tabbed First Team All-Decade by Sports Illustrated. It was well deserved as Davis walked away from his lone season in Lexington with a host of honors and awards, including Naismith and Wooden Award winners, Final Four Most Outstanding Player, National Freshman of the Year, National Defensive Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year.
Calipari will remind everyone any chance he gets that Davis took the fifth most shots on that team. That speaks to the team’s chemistry, balance, and cohesiveness.
MKG followed Davis in the draft at No. 2 overall, becoming the only teammates ever to be taken Nos. 1-2 in any major draft. Jones and Teague also ended up as first-round picks.
Lamb was taken in the second round of the draft, as was SEC Sixth Man of the Year, SEC Tournament MVP, and former Mr. Kentucky Basketball — Darius Miller.
One other thing of note in these rankings were the two teams that came in at Nos. 9 and 10. Both spots belong to the UConn Huskies. The Cats had two chances against these teams — once in the National Championship (2014) and once in the Final Four (2011) — to bring home a couple of titles of their own.
During this decade that John Calipari has been the head coach at Kentucky, no head coach has won more games (305), more NCAA Tournament games (31), reached more Final Fours (4), or signed more top-10 recruits (23). And no school has produced more No. 1 overall picks (3), top-10 picks (13), lottery picks (21), first round picks (29) and total NBA Draft picks (38) than Kentucky.