Kentucky and UNC both missing NCAA Tournament would be historic failure

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari reacts against the Florida Gators during the first half at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. (Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2011-12 season was the greatest in the long and decorated coaching tenure of Kentucky’s John Calipari. After taking UMass to the Final Four, and then Memphis to the Final Four, and then the Wildcats to the Final Four, his Anthony Davis-led squad finally broke through.

Calipari gave Big Blue Nation a real reason to celebrate with a national title.

However, he lost all five of his freshman starters to the NBA. Forced to reload, Calipari’s new batch of diaper dandies have struggled to acclimate themselves to the college game. Now, Davis’ replacement in the paint, Nerlens Noel, is done for the year with a torn ACL, basically making an NCAA Tournament berth an impossible task.

Roy Williams took over the reins at North Carolina back in 2003, after compiling an .800 winning percentage in 15 seasons at Kansas.

Only two seasons later, he finally broke through with his first personal national title, leading his Tar Heels over Illinois in 2005.

During the 2011-12 season, Williams’ squad boasted talent across the board, and finally bowed out of The Dance in an Elite Eight loss to none other than the Kansas program he had left nearly a decade earlier. The Tar Heels lost a total of six games last season.

Through the team’s first 24 games this season, the Heels have already lost eight, including several in embarrassing fashion. An 18-point loss at Texas, a 24-point loss at Indiana, and a 16-point loss at Miami have all tarnished the powder blue’s sterling reputation. These performances, as well as several others, will in all likelihood keep North Carolina out of the the NCAA Tourney.

Should both Kentucky and North Carolina miss The Dance, two programs with 33 combined Final Four appearances between them, it would be a failure of historic proportions.

The last time both programs missed out on some Dancing was way back in 1974. Not only were no players on either team born yet, none were even thoughts in the minds of their parents. Calipari himself was only a high schooler trying to figure out his life.

Williams was far from the fame and fortune that comes with his Tar Heel blue jacket and tie, having just finished up his first year coaching at the high school level.

At that point, neither of the two envisioned themselves making history as dominant coaches in the college basketball landscape.

And neither of the two ever envisioned themselves on the wrong side of history, either.

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