This National Championship Is Actually The Worst Cinderella Story Of All Time
Tonight's national championship will feature 7-seed Connecticut versus 8-seed Kentucky, making for the highest combined seeding ever in a title game. A 7-seed has never even been to this stage before, and the 1985 Villanova team is the only 8-seed to hoist the trophy in tournament history. No matter what the outcome of tonight's game, it will truly be an upset for the ages.
Kind of. Sort of. Not really. In fact, the only way this "Cinderella story" could have featured two teams that were less fitting for that title is if Duke and UCLA were in it.
It's clear that despite their rocky regular seasons, Kentucky and UConn were under-seeded. As Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein puts it: "I felt bad for the people ahead of us. I mean, we shouldn't have been an 8 seed. They didn't screw us; they screwed the people ahead of us."
To recap both teams' history, let's just check the first paragraphs of their respective Wikipedia pages (edited for brevity):
Kentucky has both the most all-time wins (2138) and the highest all-time winning percentage in the history of college basketball (.761). Kentucky's all-time record currently stands at 2138–671. Kentucky also leads all schools in total NCAA tournament appearances with 53, is first in NCAA tournament wins with 117, and ranks second to UCLA in NCAA championships with 8. The Wildcats have played in a record 157 NCAA Tournament games, have a NCAA record 39 Sweet-16 appearances, a NCAA record 34 Elite-8 appearances, and have a NCAA record 61 total post-season tournament appearances (NCAA and NIT). Further, Kentucky has played in 16 Final Fours (3rd place all time), and has 11 NCAA Championship Game appearances (second all time to UCLA), winning 8 NCAA Championships (second all time to UCLA). Kentucky also leads all schools with 58 20-win seasons.
The Huskies have won 3 NCAA Tournament Championships (1999, 2004 and 2011), which ties the program for sixth-most all-time. The Huskies have also won seven Big East Tournament Championships and ten Big East regular season titles. Numerous players have gone on to achieve professional success after their time at UConn, including Ray Allen and Rudy Gay. The Huskies have participated in 5 NCAA Final Fours (tied for 9th all time) and appeared in the NCAA tournament 32 times. The team has been a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament 5 times, most recently in 2009.
These programs are as blue-blood as they come. If some other 7 and 8 seeds in this tournament had made it the title game -- Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon -- or if we had a true mid-major like 2009's Butler on the scene, this would be a different story. As it is, this will be merely a footnote in the otherwise illustrious record books at either Kentucky or UConn. "Remember that one year no one thought we would win, as we so often do? That was funny."
The only element of this that is even remotely Cinderella-esque is Kevin Ollie, who replaced the legendary Jim Calhoun two years ago and has already brought his team back to prominence. But his counterpart, John Calipari? In a word: No.
Photo via Getty
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