Wednesday, March 31, 1999
Team of '90s: Duke or UK?
Kentucky has as many titles and a solid argument
BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer
As they signed off Monday night, CBS's announcing team consoled Duke with the words, You're still the Team of the Decade.
Not so fast. Don't discredit Kentucky.
Had Duke won Monday, OK. It would have an unbeatable three national titles in the 1990s.
TEAMS OF THE DECADE
A comparison of the success of Kentucky's and Duke's men's basketball programs in the 1990s: |
| Category|| UK|| Duke |
| NCAA titles|| 2|| 2 |
| NCAA runner-up|| 1|| 2 |
| Final Fours|| 4|| 5 |
| Record|| 282-63|| 271-78 |
| Winning percentage|| .817|| .777 |
| NCAA tourney record|| 31-6|| 32-7 |
| NCAA tourney win pct.|| .838%|| .821 |
| Head-to-head overall|| 1-2|| 2-1 |
| Head-to-head NCAAs|| 1-1|| 1-1 |
| AP Top 10 finishes|| 9|| 7 |
| 30-win seasons|| 4|| 4 |
| Losing seasons|| 0|| 1 |
| All-Americans|| 3|| 7 |
| NBA draftees|| 9|| 11 |
| First-round draftees|| 7|| 6 |
| Current NBA players|| 10|| 6 ||
(Note: The decade spans the 1989-90 season through the '98-99 season, which the NCAA recognizes in determining the winningest team of the decade by percentage.)
But it didn't. Its two titles are matched by UK, and other numbers match up pretty evenly.
Duke has one more Final Four appearance. UK has more victories and a better winning percentage. Duke has a 2-1 head-to-head edge. UK didn't suffer a losing season like Duke did.
It's arbitrary, UK coach Tubby Smith said in midseason. It's really something for the fans to discuss.
UK can claim consistency.
No one else has been ranked in the Associated Press' final Top 10 each of the past nine years. It has the nation's best winning percentage the past eight years, since coming off NCAA probation. It has the most Elite Eight appearances, advancing to the regional finals in seven of the eight years it was eligible for the tournament.
Duke went 5-1 in Elite Eight games, but UK handed the Blue Devils that one loss. UK's NCAA Tournament winning percentage (.838) in the '90s is the nation's best.
ESPN analyst Dick Vitale picks Duke, saying, Going into this year I felt they were tied, so after going 37-2 and beating UK this season, I now give them a slight edge.
But Duke has to explain a 13-18 season in 1994-95, a first-round loss to Eastern Michigan in '96 and a second-round loss to 10th seed Providence in '97.
UK's 282-63 mark this decade is actually second to Kansas' 285-60, but the Jayhawks haven't won the NCAA title in the '90s.
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