If Kentucky wins the NCAAs, you can count on a Yankee parade down Broadway this fall.
The last six times Kentucky has won the NCAA men’s basketball title, the Yankees have gone on to win the World Series.
The Wildcats have won seven titles overall, second only to UCLA’s 11 and by far the most of any team in this year’s Final Four. Kansas has taken three, Louisville two and Ohio State one.
Kentucky won its first championship in 1948, the year the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves to win their last World Series.
Kentucky repeated in 1949, beating Oklahoma State in the final, under the tutelage of immortal coach Adolph Rupp, the “Baron of the Bluegrass.”
Rupp, fourth all-time with 876 victories, would go on to win in 1951 (against Kansas State) and 1958 (against Seattle) for a total of four championships.
Meanwhile the Yankees were winning five World Series in a row between 1949 and 1953 under another legendary leader, Casey Stengel. In 1958, the Yankees rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Milwaukee Braves.
It took Kentucky 20 years to return to the mountaintop, when coach Joe B. Hall’s Wildcats defeated Duke for the 1978 national championship. That fall, the Yankees rallied to knock off the Red Sox on Bucky Dent’s home run, then repeated against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Rick Pitino, now the head coach at Louisville (which meets Kentucky in a Final Four intra-state rivalry on Saturday), coached the Wildcats to the NCAA title in 1996. Two years later, coach Tubby Smith guided Kentucky to its last championship, against Utah.
Meanwhile, Joe Torre piloted the Yankees to World Series wins in 1996 (vs. the Braves) and 1998 (vs. the Padres).
Of the other Final Four finalists, Kansas won its first championship in 1952, followed by a Yankee win over the Dodgers. Ohio State’s only title occurred in 1960, the year the Yankees lost the Series to Bill Mazeroski and the Pirates. And although the Yankees didn’t win the World Series following Louisville’s 1986 title run, the Mets did.
Kentucky is heavily favored to cut down the nets Monday night. And if they do, the Yankees can start planning a parade down Broadway
It says here, sometime around midnight on Monday night, April 6, Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals will be celebrating a win over the Oklahoma Sooners and cutting down the nets in the Motor City.
Pitino is due to join a select group of coaches whose teams have won at least two NCAA championships. And if Louisville wins, as forecast, he’ll become the first coach to win championships with two different schools.
Pitino coached the 1996 Kentucky team that beat Syracuse to win the National title. He also led Providence to the Final Four in 1987.
UCLA’s legendary coach John Wooden is far and away the all-time leader with 10 championships (all between 1964 and 1975). The Baron, Adolph Rupp, won four titles with Kentucky. and Indiana’s Bob Knight and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski took three apiece.
Pitino would join a group of eight coaches with two championships, including Louisville’s Denny Crum, Florida’s Billy Donovan and UConn’s Jim Calhoun.
Multiple Championship Coaches
Coach School Championships
John Wooden UCLA 10
Adolph Rupp Kentucky 4
Bob Knight Indiana 3
Mike Krzyzewski Duke 3
Dean Smith North Carolina 2
Billy Donovan Florida 2
Denny Crum Louisville 2
Ed Jucker Cincinnati 2
Hery Iba Oklahoma State 2
Jim Calhoun UConn 2
Phil Woolpert San Francisco 2
Branch McCracken Indiana 2
The Cardinals will win because they have the most athletic team in this year’s tournament. They’re deep, and they play 40 minutes of relentless defense.
Louisville won both the regular season and post-season tournaments in the Big East, generally regarded as college basketball’s toughest conference in years.
In addition to Louisville, the SportsLifer Final Four features top-seeded Pitt and second seeds Memphis and Oklahoma.
NCAA tournament pools are often decided in the early rounds, especially in pools where points are awarded for picking lower seeds..
Some sleepers to watch in the early rounds:
— 13th seed Mississippi State will beat both Washington and Purdue
— Western Kentucky will beat Illinois in the annual 12-5 stunner
— 11th seeds VCU and Utah State will eliminate UCLA and Marquette respectively
— 10th seeds Maryland, USC and Minnesota will all advance to the next round
Remember, when it all comes true, you read it here first.