After enduring the worst season in program history in 2020-21, followed by the worst postseason loss in program history this past season, the amount of pessimism surrounding the program has grown.
With that being said, let’s look at a more positive perspective. Depending on the metrics you look at, the Kentucky Wildcats have been more successful than any other program in the country when it comes to March.
Wins-Expected Wins Differential
Andy Wittry wrote an article for the NCAA, where he analyzed every Division 1 men’s basketball program and their performance in the NCAA tournament since 2010.
Using a system where Wittry went back to 1985 and averaged the number of wins by seed line, Kentucky has a dominant differential of +11.3. This is a much higher number when compared to Duke’s -0.26, Kansas’ -5.61, and North Carolina’s 1.82, which showcases just how much those programs have underperformed compared to expectations over the years.
Note, that these numbers are prior to the 2022 NCAA tournament, but that still only drops Kentucky to an 8.93, which would put them in second, just slightly below Butler.
Most NCAA Tournament Wins and Final Fours
Despite not winning an NCAA tournament game since 2019, the Wildcats are still tied with the Kansas Jayhawks for most NCAA tournament wins, with 31, and have the most Final Fours, with four, since 2010. In the same span, the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels are close behind, winning 30 and 29 respectively.
Conference Tournament Championships
To start, we are not going to consider the Gonzaga Bulldogs as a part of this conversation due to the weakness of the West Coast Conference.
With that said and excluding Gonzaga, Kentucky is tied for the most conference tournament championships (6) with Kansas. In the same period, Duke has earned five ACC titles, and North Carolina captured just one.
That is a lot of success for a coach that has said he doesn’t care about the SEC Tournament.
Calipari has mentioned it before and will say in the future, that his teams are built for March. The numbers don’t lie, but after two straight disappointing Marches, he has to make a run this season to stay on top and sustain the level of excellence.
With Kentucky’s roster having the makeup of a preseason top-five team, one should expect the Wildcats to get back to their successful tournament ways this March.