Kentucky Sits Atop the Most Overrated College Basketball Programs of the Last Decade

Kentucky Sits Atop the Most Overrated College Basketball Programs of the Last Decade


Kentucky Sits Atop the Most Overrated College Basketball Programs of the Last Decade


Who are the most overrated basketball programs? To get on this list, well, you typically have to be highly rated on a consistent basis. Bad teams don’t get overrated.

Still, we sometimes fall in love or give too much benefit of the doubt to certain teams based on brand name, coaches, or flashy young players. To come up with this list, I looked at the preseason Top 25 list, and the end-of-season list, and compared them. (If a team was unranked at the beginning of the season, they were assigned a ranking of 38, and if unranked at end of season, assigned a ranking equal to their seed value–or a 50 if missed the tournament).

This year’s AP Preseason Rankings were released today for the upcoming season. Here are the most overrated programs based on Preseason Rankings versus End-of-Year Rankings, over the last 10 years.

#1 Kentucky Wildcats (-106 points, 9 seasons)

The Kentucky Wildcats have been ranked in the preseason Top 4 in seven of the last eight years. They’ve finished there in only three of those seasons. Add in an 18-13 season when Billy Gillespie was coach in 2008, after starting as preseason #20; missing the tournament in 2013, after being ranked 3rd; and dropping to an 8 seed (but then advancing to the championship game) after being preseason #1 in 2014, and no team has underperformed in so many years.

Compare that to fellow Bluebloods Kansas and Duke, who do not make this list. Kansas has been ranked in the preseason every year in the last decade, with an average ranking of 7.3, and yet has finished with an average ranking of 5.5. For Duke, it’s 5.9 preseason average and 7.0 end of season. Both have finished Top 10 in nine of 10 years.

2017-2018 Preseason Rank: 5th

#2 Connecticut Huskies (-101 points, 9 seasons)

Yes, Connecticut won two national titles in this span. One of those was in 2011  when they were unranked in preseason and won the title as a 3-seed on the back of Kemba Walker. But man, they have been way overrated in almost every other season. Yes, one of those included a year where they were banned from the postseason, but they weren’t that good anyway.

Connecticut has been ranked each of the last three years, and has one tournament appearance (as a #9 seed) to show for it. They were preseason #12 in 2010, and missed the tournament also. UCONN has only finished the year ranked once in the last six times they were ranked in the preseason.

2017-2018 Preseason Rank: Unranked

BLOOMINGTON, IN – NOVEMBER 30: Roy Williams the head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels gives instructions to his team during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on November 30, 2016 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

#3 North Carolina Tar Heels (-80 points, 10 seasons)

North Carolina’s inclusion so highly on this list comes almost entirely from two seasons. In 2010, the Tar Heels started as #6, but ended up playing in the NIT. In 2013, they were preseason #11, and finished up outside the Top 25 as an 8-seed.

When they have been ranked preseason #1 (4 times) they have generally lived up to billing, finishing the season in the top 4 each time. Of course, this year is a more uncertain year, and North Carolina will open ranked outside the Top 5 after last year’s national title.

2017-2018 Preseason Rank: 9th

#4 Florida Gators (-74 points, 7 seasons)

Florida was ranked preseason #7 in Billy Donovan’s final season, and finished with a losing record. In 2009, they also missed the tournament after being ranked in the preseason, and in 2012, they finished ranked 25th after being preseason #8.

2017-2018 Preseason Rank: 8th

#5 Texas Longhorns (-68 points, 6 seasons)

This was mostly a Rick Barnes thing, but Shaka Smart added to it with an 11-22 season a year ago after Texas was ranked 21st entering the year. Under Rick Barnes, there were three different seasons where Texas was in the preseason Top 10 and they finished unranked in all three.

2017-2018 Preseason Rank: Unranked

#6 Michigan Wolverines (-64 points, 7 seasons)

In the last decade, Michigan has missed the tournament twice after being ranked in the preseason, and also got into the tournament as an 11-seed after being ranked in another.

2017-2018 Preseason Rank: Unranked

Mar 12, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans coach Tom Izzo yells from the sidelines against the Maryland Terrapins during the Big Ten Conference tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Spartans won 64-61. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

#7 Michigan State Spartans (-58 points, 10 seasons)

Michigan State has been a model of consistency, making the NCAA Tournament every year. They haven’t, however, always lived up to the loftiest of expectations over the last decade. This year’s team will be in the Top 5 and try to reverse recent trends. The Spartans have been ranked that highly three times in the last decade, and here were the finishes: 13th, unranked, and 22nd.

2017-2018 Preseason Rank: 2nd

MEMPHIS, TN – MARCH 24: Head coach Steve Alford of the UCLA Bruins reacts in the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament South Regional at FedExForum on March 24, 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

#8 UCLA Bruins (-55 points, 6 seasons)

UCLA missed the tournament in 2012 after being ranked 17th in the preseason, and in 2009, following a run of Final Four appearances, were ranked 4th in the preseason but finished 18th.

2017-2018 Preseason Rank: 21st

#9 California Bears (-48 points, 3 seasons)

California is a surprise entry into this list. They’ve only been ranked in the preseason three times (2010, 2012, and 2016) but managed to underperform in all three.

2017-2018 Preseason Rank: Unranked

#10 Arizona Wildcats (-43 points, 8 seasons)

Arizona sneaks into the final spot on the list on the basis of missing the 2012 tournament after being ranked 16th in the preseason. Since then, it’s been mostly underachieving in the NCAA Tournament and failing to live up to regular season results.

2017-2018 Preseason Rank: 3rd


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