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Kentucky Basketball narrowly misses top spot of best programs since 1997

Should Kentucky have gotten the top spot?

Kentucky V Duke

There’s no question on where Kentucky sits when it comes to it’s seat in college basketball history. When you consider all the titles, accolades and teams in their rich history, the Wildcats have placed themselves at the head of the table as one of the all-time programs.

KenPom released its newest ranking of their best college programs since 1997, and Kentucky is right near the top again as they ranked second.

The ranking is as follows:

  1. Duke Blue Devils (+47.02)
  2. Kentucky Wildcats (+45.07)
  3. Kansas Jayhawks (+37.04)
  4. North Carolina Tar Heels (+34.45)
  5. Arizona Wildcats (+32.65)
  6. Michigan State Spartans (+31.64)
  7. Villanova Wildcats (+30.03)
  8. Louisville Cardinals (+29.86)
  9. Florida Gators (+29.56)
  10. Texas Longhorns (+28.78)

The list ranked all 353 teams based off of their RSCI recruiting rankings, the program’s potential, and their on-court numbers to create a score that reflects that.

The difference between Duke and Kentucky from the rest of the list is very interesting as they’ve not only separated themselves from the pack, but from the rest of the top 10. They’re only separated from each other, though, by 1.95 points.

This difference likely results from outliers like the Billy Gillispie years along with the 2013 NIT team. The 1997 cutoff also just misses Kentucky’s 1996 championship. With all things considered, they may even be closer than KenPom suggests.

Ironically, Kentucky beat Duke in the 1998 Elite Eight en route to winning the schools seventh national title. It’s the only time since 1997 that the two programs faced off in the NCAA Tournament.

No matter what you base the ranking on, it’s safe to say Kentucky is near the top when it comes to college hoops. UK has been successful on the court for an extended period and John Calipari has only added to the program’s legacy during his tenure.

If enough goes their way, Coach Cal and his Cats will have more than enough chances to add even more.