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Is John Calipari right? Are there 70 teams capable of making Final Four?

John Calipari (Vicky Graff Photo)


Baylor managed to win at Florida Saturday night and avoid having another No. 1 team get upset. However, the parity in college basketball remains obvious.

Just ask Kentucky coach John Calipari. His team is 13th in this week’s Associated Press poll and will take a 15-4 record into Wednesday night’s home game with Vanderbilt. Yet Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, who got the Red Raiders to the 2019 Final Four, said after Saturday’s loss to the Cats that UK not only was a potential Final Four team but also a potential national champion

“The players, the teams, the leagues – there’s just parity. There were times I could remember being on phone calls and saying, ‘Look, guys, there’s eight teams that have a chance to win the national title and there’s 20 that have a chance to get to the Final Four,'” Calipari said.

“I’d tell you right now that there may be 25 teams that could win the national title (this year). There may be 60, 70 teams that could get to a Final Four. You’re talking leagues that have some teams that people are watching and saying, ‘They have a terrific guard that can bust it and shoot balls, but they’ve also got a couple big guys.'”

Seton Hall is ranked 10th with a 15-4 record.  Calipari says it has the dynamic guard who can score 30 points in a game and inside players to be in a Final Four. Same with No. 12 West Virginia (16-3).

“I talked to (West Virginia coach) Bob Huggins not long ago and I told him, ‘Jeez you’ve got rebounding, your toughness, your defense, your scoring.’ I said, ‘Bob. You guys can do this (win the national title),'” Calipari said.

“I mean, it’s crazy. There’s not many years like that, and that’s why I keep coming back to what I have on my wall big as day: Coach your team. None of the other stuff matters. It makes no bearing on what we need to do here.”


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  1. I agree with Beard on UK’s chances, contrary to what a couple of negative individuals have said on this very site in the past but who mysteriously disappeared after the holidays. Strange indeed, but convenient, in order to save face with the current trajectory of this UK team. Two that had long ago written off Richards and Montgomery. Any long time regulars on VV’s know to whom I refer.

    From what I saw from Baylor against the Gators Saturday night in Gainesville, they are very capable of winning a national title. As for 70 teams, that is a stretch, but Coach could be right.

  2. Not sure what Coach is thinking when he says 60 -70 teams could make the final 4, but I can see a dozen teams having a shot at winning it all, including us. Its been a different kind of year, but we are on track to be playing in April.
    Nick really has perserved to get where he is considering where he came from. His basketball IQ was his biggest deficit arriving here. His fundamentals were also lacking, but he has stuck with it and become the dominant big man that this team needed. If he stays on track, he could very well be a lottery pick this year. If he were to come back next year and build on what he has accomplished this year, he could be a No. 1 pick in 2021. Given the steep learning curve he has had to climb, another year of seasoning wouldn’t be a bad idea. Maybe EJ will have the same awakening next year when he could very well be our only big guy.

  3. Is he right? NO!

  4. 2002 Through 2019 Final Fours
    72 Teams
    Seed Teams % of All Pomeroy Rank
    1 36 50.00% 1 to 4
    2 13 18.06% 5 to 8
    3 or 4 14 19.44% 9 to 16
    5 to 8 7 9.72% 17 to 32
    Other 2 2.78% greater than 32

    This is the data since 2002. The rankings are the final Pomeroy ranking, NOT the crazy NCAA seedings!

    There have been 72 final four teams since 2002, and 50% of those teams have been ranking in the top 4. 18.1% of them have been ranked between #5 and #8. Another 19.4% of them have been ranked between #9 and #16. 9.7% of them have been ranked between #17 and #32.

    That is 70 of the 72 teams that have reached the final 4.

    The outliers? Both occurred in the same year, #36 Butler and #53 VCU in 2011. That year, UK #7 and UConn #10 were the other two teams, and even though UK survived into the final four as the highest ranked team still standing, a very rare occurrence, it could not finish the job, losing to #10 UConn.

    In 13 of these 18 seasons, the #1 ranked team survived to the Final Four 13 times. The 5 years in which the #1 team did not make it were 2014 (Louisville), 2011 (Ohio State), 2007 (North Carolina), 2003 (Kentucky), and 2002 (Duke).

    I have said on here many times, I want my team to be the most efficient team in the land, and if it cannot be #1, then #2, and if not #2, then #3 or #4, and …. You get the idea.

    The suggestion that any team can advance to the Final Four, while technically correct, it simply not a reasonable assertion given the realities of the situation.

    These are suggestions made by those who are destined to not make it!!!!

    So sad to here it coming from our coach!!!

  5. Over the Last 18 Seasons, The NCAA Champion
    Has Been The Most Efficient or
    nearly the most efficient team on the season 15 times

    10 of the 18 Champions have ended the season with the #1
    Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) (55.5%)

    5 of the 18 Champions have ended the season with the #2, #3, or #4
    ANE (27.8%)

    The 3 outliers were:
    #8 Syracuse in 2003,
    #10 UConn in 2011, and
    #15 UConn in 2014.

    Once again, I want my team to be the most efficient team in the land, and if it cannot be #1, then #2, and if not #2, then #3 or #4, and …. You get the idea.

    Any other goal for a team is tantamount to satisfaction with a participation trophy.

  6. With all the upsets and the parity that’s going on this basketball season those stats that professor has posted could be not so true this March madness. Even the seedings won’t matter until beyond no.8. This will be the year the low tier teams will have as much of shot getting to the final four than it ever has happen. So as far Cal statements I belived he’s right.

  7. Parity is what losers argue every year.

    There are a handful of teams this year that have distinquished themselves from the rest just like all prior years.

  8. Professor another thing not just parity that bothers me. The way the officials are calling the game is very concern it’s been pretty obvious the way how some games are been call just not UK games all across the country. Some times you wonder Las Vegas point spread is directing the officials call the game.

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