(I don't know what's funnier, the idea that somebody believes Kentucky women look like this or the caption that came with the picture.)
Final Fours: 2(1986, 2005)
Made the NCAAs: 73.08%
I've had fun both times I've been to Kentucky; once for a gig in Lexington a decade ago and once to watch an Ironman race in Louisville. The people were friendly...but none of them looked even remotely like the girls above, Ashley Judd, or any of the women in 'Justified'. (Well, maybe Mags Bennett.) I saw a lady ordering food in a White Castle drive-through from the backseat of her mini-van. Why is that notable? Because she was too large to fit in the passenger seat, her husband had to give his order then roll forward 5 feet; she had the sliding door open & gave an order that must have taken 5 minutes to get through. I can only imagine it was hard for the White Castle employee to make out "43 SLIDERS, YES WITH EXTRA CHEESE" through her wheezing & the sounds of the over-burdened minivan shocks groaning every time she re-adjusted her position on that poor, poor middle seat. What does this have to do with the Cardinals? Nothing, but it was this or Rick Pitino adultery jokes.
(Judging by the crowd, this picture was taken at the women's national championship.)
NCs: 2(1999, 2004)
Final Fours: 3(1999, 2004, 2009)
Made the NCAAs: 61.54%
The gap between the top 9 & the rest of the field is fairly significant; it would take a NC for Louisville or Indiana to jump into this group, & nobody else can bridge the gap in 1 year. This is the beginning of the group I'd consider 'elite'; everyone has at least 1 NC, has made >3 Final Fours, and makes it to the Sweet 16 >40% since 1985. Out of this group, UConn's the most mercurial. They've made the tournament less than 62% of the time, everyone else in the 'elite' group has made it >75%; however, once they make it they tend to make deep runs(they're tied for 5th in Sweet 16 appearances). They've only had one 1st round exit since 1985, tied for the best amongst the 43 teams in my rankings. In short, if Calhoun makes the NCAAs, he's going to make some noise.
(3 weeks ago, this would have been a picture of a cheerleader. Way to ruin things for everyone, random racist UCLA coed.)
Final Fours: 4(1995, 2006, 2007, 2008)
Made the NCAAs: 76.92%
UCLA's track record is a bit more consistent than UConn's as they make the field more often than Calhoun's team, but beyond that there's not a ton of difference between the two. UCLA's best run within this time-frame is the '06-'08 run of consecutive Final Four finishes. If they could have finished off a couple of those with NCs, they'd be threatening the top 5 on this list.
(This is what happens when the Orange mascot has a one-night stand with an extra from 'Willow'.)
Final Fours: 3(1987, 1996, 2003)
Made the NCAAs: 80.77%
Syracuse is essentially a clone of UCLA in this report; they have the same amount of NCs & same amount of Sweet 16 appearances. UCLA has made 1 more Final Four, but also has 1 more 1st round exit & has missed the tournament once more than Syracuse. There's very little to distinguish these two programs in this respect, so it's fitting they're tied.
#6: Michigan State
(They've had a lot to celebrate in recent years, they're getting pretty good at being prepared.)
Final Fours: 6(1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010)
Made the NCAAs: 76.93%
I already respected Tom Izzo as a coach prior to compiling this list, but reading through his consistently high level of results over the past decade makes me appreciate his capacity even more. From 1999 - 2010, nobody has been to more Final Fours than him(not even Coach K). If one wants to make the argument that he can't quite finish it out(only having won 1 NC in 6 Final Fours) they could, but even with that mark against him he's still a top-5 coach in the NCAAs right now. Spartan fans should - and by all accounts, do - appreciate what they have in Izzo; he runs a clean program & keeps them in elite company most years.
#5 - #1 tomorrow...
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