Syracuse is 26-1, and Kentucky is 25-1, and there’s an 87 percent* chance neither team loses another game in the regular season. They’ll be the favorites to win the Big East tournament and SEC tournament, respectively. Both will go into March Madness as favorites to reach the Final Four. While UNC hasn’t been as impressive as everyone thought the Heels would be, and Ohio State has is ranked No. 2 by Ken Pomeroy, Syracuse and Kentucky have been the most impressive teams this season. They’ll be slugging it out for the No. 1 overall seed.
With that being said … I thought today would be a good day to remind everyone how their coaches, Jim Boeheim and John Calipari, have done in March recently. Let’s go with Jim Boeheim first:
Last 15 years: 11 NCAA tournament appearances. 1 title (thanks, Carmelo Anthony). Five Sweet 16 appearances (for the math majors: Every third year for the last 15, he’s gotten the Orange to the third round of the tournament!) Outside of the title, 0 Final Four trips, 0 Elite Eight appearances.
I actually enjoyed the 1995-1996 run to the title game (ironically: Lost to Kentucky) more than the year they won the title. That’s probably because I was in college and John Wallace is one of my top five college players of all-time. I thought that was Boeheim’s best coaching job.
And yes, I’m aware that not everyone can win multiple titles. That being said … it is undeniable that Syracuse and Boeheim have historically underwhelmed in the tournament.
And now, Calipari:
Two of his three Final Fours have been vacated by the NCAA due to Marcus Camby and Derrick Rose. Let’s examine Cal’s last three seasons:
2009: Lost in the Sweet 16 as a No. 2 seed to Missouri. I believe Memphis was the favorite.** He had Tyreke Evans starring the year after Rose and CDR got the Tigers to the title game (which they should have won if Rose had made a free throw and Mario Chalmers hadn’t done this).
2010: No. 1 seed, heavy favorite to get to the Final Four with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins … lost to West Virginia in the Elite 8. UK missed its first 20 three-point attempts and finished the game 4-for-32 from deep.
2011: Lost in the Final 4 to eventual champ UConn, 56-55. Wildcats, I recall, were a slight favorite. In a hideous game, UK was again undone by poor shooting – 33 percent from the field (point guard Brandon Knight was 6-of-23) and 33 percent from the foul line (star Terrence Jones was 0-for-5).
And yes, Calipari’s last three seasons have ended in the Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final 4. Which means they’ll either win or lose the title game, right?
* Not scientific.
** Couldn’t back that up. But I tried.