A college basketball team’s success, especially that of blue blood schools like Kentucky, is ultimately measured by championships. It’s as simple as that.
Kentucky fans aren’t content with SEC championships, Elite Eights, or December wins over a top-ranked team. All of that is expected, and then some.
And this isn’t just Kentucky fans. It’s Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, and Michigan State fans, among a host of others, as well.
It’s certainly acceptable for a fan base to demand excellence at a program like Kentucky. And it’s surely fair to expect them to win some national championships. Kentucky is the greatest basketball program of all time.
The only flaw with this expectation is the extreme randomness that accompanies the infamous March Madness. There’s no guarantee that any team is going to win six straight games. And the best team doesn’t even come close to winning the championship every single year.
Sometimes, fate is out of the hands of both the players and the coaches. But success can be measured in other ways as well. For instance, success of a program like Kentucky could be based on being a yearly national title contender. If that’s not enough, maybe Final Fours is the measurement. Or, maybe the measurement is performing well each and every year, while also exceeding expectations when March rolls around.
Jordan Sperber of Hoop Vision put together a graph compiling every season since 2010 (John Calipari’s first postseason at Kentucky) that shows NCAA Tournament performances against seed expectation.
Take a look:
Same graph grouped by school. Based solely on the seeding they have received since 2010, Kentucky would be expected to win 17.3 tournament games. They've won 28 games pic.twitter.com/QuX3h0GfUI— Jordan Sperber (@hoopvision68) March 11, 2019
Basically, you want to be closer to the top right-hand corner. The farther to the northeast you are, the more you are overachieving based on what would be expected.
And who’s the best? The Kentucky Wildcats.
UK was expected to win 17.3 NCAA Tournament games since 2010 and they won an astounding 28.
For comparison, take a look at some of the other more prominent programs around the country. Villanova is well-below average and Kansas is even worse. Duke is about average, while Florida, UNC, Wisconsin, and Louisville are all trending the right direction.
Then, take a look in the bottom right-hand corner and you find the worst performance against seed expectation. That belongs to the Virginia Cavaliers.
The point of this exercise is that opposing fans and national media will sing the praises of coaches like Jay Wright, Tony Bennett, Coach K, and Bill Self. But in reality, it’s John Calipari’s squads who are performing better than anyone else in the country at the most important time of the year. And that’s truly impressive.
So, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the Hall of Fame coach we’re lucky enough to have, and the immense amount of success we’ve attained over the last decade with him at helm.