Tuesday, April 8, 2014

UConn Joins The College Basketball Elite

UConn beat Kentucky for the NCAA Championship which places the Huskies in some elite company.  As you can see below, they've had quite the run.  Well, it is really time to look at UConn a little closer and maybe put them with those "blue bloods" we always hear about.

*UConn won their 4th title.  Only UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina and Indiana has won more.  

UConn is up there in championships.  They now have the same total of titles as Duke.  They have one more than Kansas and Louisville.  Yet when we typically think of the "blue bloods" it is Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA and Duke as well as red-blooded Indiana and Louisville.  UConn deserves their spot in that company.

*UConn's four title have all come since 1999.  In that time span, only North Carolina, Duke and Florida have won multiple titles ... and all of them won exactly two apiece.

Really think about that.  That's pretty remarkable.  Among the other blue bloods, that holds up very well.  UCLA, of course, won 10 titles in 12 years from 1964 to 1976.  Kentucky won four titles in 11 years (1948-1958).  Duke won their four titles in a 20 year span (1991-2010).  That's pretty much it.

Indiana won three titles in 12 years (1976-1987) and their closest four was from 1953-1987 (35 years).  North Carolina's closest title haul was three in 17 seasons (1993-2009) and they had four in 28 years (1982-2009).  

*UConn's head coach Kevin Ollie won the title in his first NCAA tournament as coach.  That hasn't happened since Steve Fisher did it with Michigan in 1989.

That is sort of remarkable in one aspect.  I mean, to get your first head coaching gig and then two years later you are in the tournament and then winning it?  Amazing.  If you've noticed over the past few decades, big time schools are scooping up most of the titles.  Those schools rarely hire first time coaches.  John Calipari won a title in his 3rd year at Kentucky, but he was a head coach for a long time before that.  So was Roy Williams, who won in his 2nd season at North Carolina.  Tubby Smith won in his first season at Kentucky, but he was already an established coach elsewhere.

*Ollie became the first head coach to win a title at his alma mater since North Carolina's Roy Williams in 2009.  

That's always a cool story.

*Ollie is the third straight NCAA championship head coach (and fourth in five years) whose last name ends with a vowel.  Ollie joins Rick Pitino and John Calipari in the streak, with Mike Krzyzewski winning in 2010.  UConn's old coach, Jim Calhoun, is the odd ball of the last five years.  

It really is rare.  Except that Krzyzewski has four titles.  Notable vowel-ending coaches with titles are Izzo, Massamino, Valvano, McGuire (Al and Frank), Heathcote and Iba.

*UConn won last night in Arlington, TX.  They've also won titles in San Antonio and Houston.

It is quite a neat feat, but it has been done before.  UCLA won three titles in California (twice in Los Angeles, one in San Diego).   UCLA also won twice in Kentucky (both in Louisville) and twice in Missouri (Kansas City and St. Louis).  Duke has split their four titles ... two in Indiana (Indianapolis) and Minnesota (Minneapolis).  Indiana won two titles in Missouri (Kansas City) and two in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).  North Carolina has won two titles in Louisiana (both New Orleans).

Kentucky has won eight titles in eight different states.

*As a No. 7 seed, UConn was the 2nd worst seed to win the NCAA tournament.  Only No. 8 seed Villanova in 1985 had a worse seed.  

Villanova beat Georgetown in one of the most memorable upsets in tournament history.  This game doesn't come close to that because Kentucky was actually a worse seed than UConn.  Yeah, UConn was the "home" team for this game due to their better seed.

*The UConn-Kentucky title game was the first championship game that didn't involve a No. 1, 2 or 3 seed.

It was the worst combined seeding (15) in title game history.  It beats out UConn's last title, when they were a No. 3 seed and beat No. 8 seed Butler for the title.

*UConn wins the tournament as a member of the inaugural season for The American Athletic Conference.  Louisville, who was also a member of the AAC in 2013-2014, won the title last season as a member of the Big East.  Next year, they will be a member of the ACC.

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