U of L vs UK (NCAA Tourney Edition)

I am a long time lurker, but very infrequent poster on Card Chronicle. The recent statistic Mike posted, I believe in Tuesday's N and N regarding UK and their entering the postseason unranked 67% of the time in the last 9 years prompted me to do a little research. What follows are the results including my attempt to interpret said results.

Fools use statistics like drunks use lamp posts. For support, not for illumination"
-Andrew Lang, 1937

I am admittedly a little bit of a stats geek. When I coached, I used them to help put my teams in the best position to compete. Now, with the easy access to information on the interweb, I like to use them for comparisons. Make your own assumptions here. For all of its storied past, and the reliance of delusional, blue-neck Kentucky fans on history in their claims of basketball dominance over Louisville, how exactly do they compare statistically in regards to NCAA tournament success? The short answer, the programs are very comparable.

I went back 50 years in researching for this post. Why 50? I am making an assumption that the majority of people alive today and reading fan blogs (and my blog) have a working memory of about that far back. And I am 50. Even though most days, I can't remember what I had for breakfast, I thought the first year of the tournament during my lifetime (1964) would be a good place to start. And it is a nice round number. This year would be the 50th tournament during my years on this earth, and obviously I couldn't include this years tourney, so the stats I am about to share truly only include 49 years of data. Hopefully, we can add 6 more wins, 1 more final four and national championship, and no more losses.

50 year totals
Louisville Kentucky
record 65 37 64% record 90 38 70%
Appearances 37 Appearances 40
Final Fours 9 Final Fours 10
Natl Championships 3 Natl Championships 4
NIT Appearances 6 NIT Appearances 4
NCAA Sanctions 0 NCAA Sanctions 2

Two numbers stand out when going back 50 years. Kentucky absolutely has the advantage in wins. Their storied history if you will. But most of these wins came when the tournament was still in its relative infancy. Early on, teams that lost in the regional and national semifinals were forced to play a consolation game. Thus, a team could possibly be 0-2 for the tournament, which Louisville was once in the 60's. The consolation game was eliminated in 1981. The Wildcats made three more appearances then The Cards, but it was back in the day when only 22 -25 teams were invited. Kentucky can only claim one more National Championship, one more Final Four, but two more NCAA sanctions that included post season bans. For a different look, lets come forward to the year when the tournament went to a 64 team format (1984).

30 year totals (64 team era)
Louisville Kentucky
record 43 21 67% record 65 21 76%
Appearances 23 Appearances 24
Final Fours 4 Final Fours 6
Natl Championships 2 Natl Championships 3
NIT Appearances 3 NIT Appearances 2
NCAA Sanctions 0 NCAA Sanctions 2

Still pretty comparable. In no way, other than total wins, Does Kentucky hold a significant statistical advantage over Louisville. 3 -2 in championships. 6-4 in final fours. Looks pretty daggone similar to me. Throw out the 90's, when The Cards went through a serious slump, and I bet the numbers would even show a greater degree of similarity. Want an even more modern look? Lets jump forward to the last decade of performance for another comparison.

10 year totals
Louisville Kentucky
record 21 7 75% record 18 6 75%
Appearances 8 Appearances 7
Final Fours 3 Final Fours 2
Natl Championships 1 Natl Championships 1
NIT Appearances 2 NIT Appearances 1
NCAA Sanctions 0 NCAA Sanctions 0

Looks like lately things are turning a little more in The Cards favor. Louisville is trending up (not even considering what could happen this year). Appearances, advantage Louisville. Final Fours, again, Louisville. National Championships, a draw, as is tournament win percentage. I suspect (hope?) that the upward trend will continue this year and into the future. It certainly is great time to be a Cardinal Fan. Can't wait to see what kind of excitement this years tourney holds.

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