Multiple ESPN analysts don’t think Kentucky basketball is a blue-blood

Jf Uk Vandy Aj4t1944
Jf Uk Vandy Aj4t1944 /

ESPN’s Jay Williams and Seth Greenberg didn’t include Kentucky basketball on their Mt. Rushmore of college basketball blue-bloods, replacing the Wildcats with the UConn Huskies.

Apparently, 17 Final Fours, 8 National Championships, and the most NBA Draft picks of ANY college program aren’t enough to be considered a blue-blood. Instead, ESPN’s Jay Williams and Seth Greenberg both believe the recent success of the UConn Huskies has knocked Kentucky basketball off the top pedestal of college basketball.

Williams also didn’t include UCLA on his Mt. Rushmore of college hoops. Greenberg’s list wasn’t capped at four programs and opted to keep UCLA. Both analysts mutually agreed on Duke, North Carolina, and Kansas (as well as the Huskies).

Greenberg eventually retracted his statement on Twitter, saying he forgot to name Kentucky in the moment.

Of course, blue-blood status will always be just an opinion of greatness, rather than a fact. But replacing Kentucky with UConn seems like a prisoner-of-the-moment move.

To play devil’s advocate, there are a few ways to decide what being a blue-blood means. On one hand, is the overall history of the program. The other measuring tool is recent success. Williams looked at the past 20 years to come to that decision.

“Even Kentucky, they got one [championship] and I’m like, okay, it feels like they struggle, where I look at Duke, Duke has had five. Three in the 2000s. 2001, 2015, 2010, 1992, 1993,” said Williams.

Since Kentucky was replaced by UConn in both analysts’ blue-blood rankings, let’s look at how the two programs compare.

Kentucky vs. UConn historically

  • National Championships:
    • Kentucky – 8
    • UConn – 5
  • Final Fours:
    • Kentucky – 17
    • UConn – 6
  • NCAA Tournaments:
    • Kentucky – 61
    • UConn – 36
  • Conference Tournament Championships:
    • Kentucky – 33
    • UConn – 8
  • All-Time Wins:
    • Kentucky – 2,377 (.760 win %)
    • UConn – 1,802 (.640 win %)
  • NBA Draft Picks:
    • Kentucky – 136
    • UConn – 48

When looking at the grand scheme of things, UConn really only compares to Kentucky with its 5 National Championships.

Of course, National Championships are the single most important measuring tool of a blue-blood program. So by that reasoning, the gap is close.

However, the other metrics – which are also important – clearly favor the Kentucky Wildcats.

Kentucky vs UConn since 2000:

  • National Championships:
    • UConn – 4
    • Kentucky – 1
  • Final Fours:
    • UConn – 5
    • Kentucky – 4
  • NCAA Tournaments:
    • Kentucky – 20
    • UConn – 15
  • Conference Tournament Championships:
    • Kentucky – 9
    • UConn – 4
  • All-Time Wins:
    • Kentucky – 604 (.751 win %)
    • UConn – 529 (.672 win %)
  • NBA Draft Picks:
    • Kentucky – 51
    • UConn – 22

The biggest reason in replacing Kentucky basketball with UConn as a blue-blood is the Huskies’ 4 national championships since 2000 (5 if you go back just one more year to 1999). On the contrary, the Wildcats have only won a single championship in that time frame, of course when Anthony Davis led the Wildcats to the national title in 2012.

UConn has also made one more Final Four than Kentucky, with a slight 5-4 advantage.

However, the other metrics still agree with Kentucky basketball, and by a fairly wide margin. The Wildcats have made 5 more NCAA Tournaments, won 5 more conference tournaments, have 75 more wins, and had 29 more NBA Draft picks since 2000.

Final Thoughts

I try to give as much reason as possible, and the only logical decision is to keep both programs as blue-bloods. No one ever put a cap on how many college basketball programs are allowed to be labeled as a blue-blood, and Kentucky’s history is too much to ignore.

The Kentucky basketball Wildcats remain one of the top programs in college hoops history, and despite a championship drought of sorts, haven’t taken a step back in any of the other major areas.

UConn has been the greatest March Madness team of the past quarter of a century and the Huskies have enough of a history to move past “new-blood” status.

Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and UCLA are so established in college basketball history, and continue to be major players in the game, that blue-blood status should not be revoked. However, welcoming UConn as the sixth blue-blood.

As for Indiana, we’ll save that discussion for a later post.