Ranking the top 10 college basketball teams since 2000
Aaron Harrison: 11.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists
Andrew Harrison: 9.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists
Trey Lyles: 8.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists
Cities of Karl-Anthony: 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 2.3 blocks
Willie Cauley-Stein: 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.7 blocks
KenPom’s second-best team since 2000 is the only team in this top 10 that hasn’t won the national championship. And there are certainly those who would argue that Anthony Davis’ team in 2012 was the top Wildcat team for getting the job done. But 2012 wasn’t as strong at the top—KenPom’s second-best team that year was Ohio State, which lost twice to Kansas, which lost twice to Kentucky—and 2012 was robbed of another epic showdown between Kentucky and its real top contender in North Carolina when Kendall Marshall went down.
But 2015 was perhaps the deepest team on this list, which caused its own headaches when coach John Calipari tried to huddle his players. It was pretty good against 99% of the competition these Wildcats played; they didn’t lose until the Final Four, but, in the semis, Wisconsin was able to play a wonderful offensive game and exploit the lags to move on.
That doesn’t change the fact that Kentucky was ridiculously athletic, that Towns finished third for KenPom’s National Player of the Year award despite only playing 52.2% of Kentucky’s minutes and that Cauley-Stein was so good defensively that he was selected as an All-American despite averaging 8.9 points per game. The Wildcats might have won it all had it not been for an injury to Alex Poythress, which propelled Lyles to the small forward position. While Lyles went to the lottery after the season, he was a natural big man playing out of position.
There will always be controversy over how Calipari handled guard spots, choosing for experience, length and athleticism with Andrew and Aaron Harrison over future NBA All-Star Devin Booker and future All-American. Tyler Ulis. Both were freshmen. Even so, when a team wins its first 38 games and drops to the team with the best offense in KenPom history, it’s hard to be too fussy.