Friday, April 17, 2009

BY 20 POINTS...REALLY?

We don’t usually get bogged down in questions that have no answers unless it involves children, politics, sports or astral physics, but this item caught our eyes while following up on a Kentucky Derby thread.

According to someone at the Las Vegas Review Journal – an newspaper we know well and like a bunch – the 2009 North Carolina Tar Heels’ National Championship basketball team would lose by twenty points to the 1990 UNLV Rebles…Really? OK, upon further review, they merely repeated what some dude at CBSSports.com said…

According to LVRJ/CBS:

A strong case can be made for Larry Johnson as the best college basketball player of the past 20 years. The UNLV teams he starred on in 1989-90 and 1990-91 defined dominance, and Johnson was the Rebels' unquestioned leader.

North Carolina's impressive run to the NCAA title has inspired debates about ranking great teams.

"What is the best championship team ever?" asked columnist Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com. "It happens every year, and this year the answer is the same as it was last season and the season before that and the season before that. There's only one answer, and it's not even close. It's the 1990 UNLV team.

"The Rebels went to a level of dominance we hadn't seen since John Wooden's UCLA teams, and strictly in terms of one team -- just one, not a dynasty -- they were the best. They would've beaten these Tar Heels by 20 points."

Former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson added that UNLV during Johnson's two seasons was "the best team I've ever seen. I'm not sure anyone else is even close."

The 1989-90 Rebels -- also featuring Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony and Anderson Hunt -- went 35-5, with three of their NCAA Tournament victories coming by 30-point margins: 102-72 over Arkansas-Little Rock, 131-101 over Loyola Marymount and 103-73 over Duke in the title game.

UNLV went 34-1 the next year, losing 79-77 to Duke in the 1991 NCAA semifinals. "That was a better team than the team that won it, there's no question," former Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian said.

"It's hard to say who's the best. Obviously, I wouldn't trade our guys for anybody. I thought we had the best defensive
team I've seen in college basketball, and I've had a lot of people tell me the same thing."

Interesting, but probably meaningless, is the simple fact that both coaches who were quoted in the story have been guilty of NCAA rules infractions which landed their team on probation and eventually got them sacked.

Not that there is anything wrong with that…

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