Today the worst NCAA Champion in the last 25 years will be crowned. The question is, will it the 7th seeded UConn Huskies, or the 8th seeded Kentucky Wildcats?
First let me start off by addressing the idea that these teams were somehow under seeded. You are 50% correct if you believe that. Kentucky was under seeded. They should’ve been a six. Yes they had ten losses, but three of those were to Florida. Did anyone on that committee actually look at UMass and Kentucky and say, “yea, UMass definitely has a better resume here.”?
The answer of course is no. Kentucky was put in that bracket specifically to fuck over Wichita State and the Atlantic Ten. The entire seeding process was a sham. That bracket was the single greatest bracket ever assembled in tournament history. It included three of the last four NCAA Champions (Duke, Kentucky, Louisville), and three of last year’s Final Four (Michigan, Wichita State, Louisville. Louisville in particular was the most poorly seeded team EVER, and it’s not even close. They realistically could’ve been a one, but at worst a two. Instead they got a four seed.
Meanwhile in that same bracket were two of the most OVERSEEDED teams – St. Louis and UMass. Both came from the Atlantic Ten. It doesn’t take a genius to see what happened here. The committee wanted to prove a point – the A-10 is overrated, and so is Wichita State. So they stacked the deck against them, so everyone would agree that the A-10 was indeed a fraud conference (St. Joe’s giving UConn their best game so far, and Dayton of course proved them wrong). St. Louis should’ve been a seven seed, UMass an eight or a nine. Duke and Louisville both should’ve been two seeds. I still say that Wichita State is the best team in the country. Their game with Kentucky is arguably the best so far in the tournament, and they were completely sheisted with that draw.
UConn has one of the most legendary players in tournament history in Shabazz Napier, but simply no one saw this run coming. Their seven seed was exactly where it should have been. First of all, St. Joe’s SHOULD have beaten them in the first round. That was one of the epic chokes so far in this tournament (only VCU’s was worse). But going into this tournament they lost to Louisville 81-48 a week prior to selection Sunday.
The biggest injustice in this tournament wasn’t UConn’s seed – it was the complete disrespect UConn’s conference got. Louisville getting a 4 seed, and SMU not making it is a joke. SMU was ranked 24th in the country. Ranked teams simply don’t miss the tournament. Did I mention they beat UConn twice this year? They made it to the NIT Final before bowing out to Minnesota. How messed up would it be if UConn won the whole thing and SMU beat them twice? Good thing the committee let in NC State after Coach K whined about the ACC being disrespected. #meatgrinder
Anyway, neither of these teams is anything special. Whoever wins will be the worst Champion in the last 25 years. Here are the next 24 in order.
24. 1998 Kentucky. This was the Tubby Smith Wildcats, not Pitino’s boys. Another forgettable team, filled with your Wayne Turners and Scott Padgetts of the world. Worcester’s own Michael Bradley got his ring on this squad too. This was a really messed up tournament too. It was the same year Bryce Drew and Valporeiso made the Sweet 16 and faced off against URI(ne). Just a real down year for college hoops.
23. 2002 Maryland. I was never that impressed by those early 2000’s Maryland teams. Juan Dixon, Lonnie Baxter, Steve Blake – those guys just didn’t do it for me. They were the best team that year, but ultimately they were a whole lot of what they were and nothing more. And they beat a five seed (Indiana) in the finals.
22. 2000 Michigan State. This was the year two eight seeds made the Final Four (Wisconsin, UNC), along with fifth seeded Florida. Mateen Cleeves and company won because the other teams all sucked.
21. 2009 North Carolina. This was the Tyler Hansborough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington team. I was just never that sold on this group. They were a 1 seed that year, but Hansborough would’ve gotten destroyed by someone like Anthony Davis.
20. 1993 North Carolina. Remember Donald Williams? Well he was Tournament MVP that year, which tells you a lot about this champion. The Eric Montross Tar Heels were a great team, but this list is going to start getting better and better, and they simply aren’t as good as the teams above them.
19. 2004 UConn. This was the worst of Calhoun’s three championship teams. The Okafor Huskies weren’t nearly as good as the 1999 bunch, or the Kemba Walker crew. They beat the Will Bynum/Jarret Jack Georgia Tech squad in the finals, and the legendary Shelden Williams Duke Blue Devils in the Final Four.
18. 2013 Louisville. I’m still not convinced this team was that great. Peyton Siva and Russ Smith were awesome, and Hancock is your token white boy who nails threes, but they beat a nine seed (Wichita State), and a four seed (Michigan) to win it all. Not that impressive.
17. 2006 Florida. They were a three seed that year, which made them the second highest seeded team in the Final Four. This was the year 11th seeded George Mason did work. It was the first of back to back championships for Billy Donovan, but no one of significance left this team and the 2007 version was much stronger.
16. 2011 UConn. This team was in danger of not making the tournament at one point. Then they got hot, won the Big East, and rode Kemba Walker’s legendary performance to a title. Their third seed made the highest seeded team in the final four, and this was the year 11th seeded VCU squared off against 8th seeded Butler for the rights to play them. Pretty lame Final Four.
15. 2010 Duke. This was the year of the tall white boys who could shoot. Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler nearly lost in the finals when Gordon Heyward almost sank that shot at the buzzer. If that went in it’s easily the greatest game in the history of the world. But alas it was just another win for Duke. There were just way too many white guys on the court at the same time in that game.
14. 1991 Duke. The list is starting to get better and better. This was Duke’s first ever title, but Coach K’s crew was much better the next season. Everyone remembers these Duke teams. Laettner, Hurley, Hill. But very few remember Thomas Hill, who was one of their best players in that tournament.
13. 2008 Kansas. Still don’t know how they beat Memphis. Perhaps more remarkably, I still can’t believe they beat Steph Curry’s Davidson team in the Elite 8 that year. With all due respect to Kemba, that might’ve been the greatest tournament performance these eyes have ever seen. The Sharron Collins, Dorrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers Jayhawks were great and all, but I still think they would’ve gotten smoked by Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich’s 2003 Jayhawks.
12. 1997 Arizona. This is getting really hard now, because I loved this team. In a year in which three one seeds made the Final Four for the first time in history, it was the 4th seeded Wildcats who took it down, beating a seemingly unbeatable Kentucky team in the Finals. Miles Simon, Mike Bibby, Bennett Davidson, A.J. Bramlett, Jason Terry, and Michael Dickerson. Everyone remembers what those guys did in March. Legendary.
11. 2003 Syracuse. Can’t believe they’re not in the Top 10, but it’s just getting too hard now. Melo and G-Mac. Nuff said. That Kansas team they beat destroyed D-Wade’s Marquette Golden Eagles in the Final Four. This was a GREAT team.
10. 2012 Kentucky. This was a down year for college basketball. Michigan State was a one seed with seven losses. But Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchirst absolutely ran train on everything in their path that year. This team had six first round draft picks. That alone is absolutely insane.
9. 2005 North Carolina. The Top 9 are a level above everyone else, and it was so hard to pick this team out as ninth. The trio of Sean May-Rashaad McCants-Raymond Felton was a force to be reckoned with. They were the top overall seed that year, and beat the number two overall seed Illinois, led by another three headed monster in Dee Brown-Deron Williams-Luther Head. It was a classic final, and we rarely get to see the best two teams go at it like that.
8. 1994 Arkansas. Did I really just put 40 Minutes of Hell 8th? Holy shit. This team was nasty, truly one of the defining teams of my youth. Scottie Thurman, Corey Beck, and of course Corliss Williamson played basketball the way it should be played – by pressing your ass the entire game. Loved, loved, loved this team. Hardest decision I’ve ever made putting them 8th.
7. 1995 UCLA. They denied Corliss and crew back to back titles this year, so they get the slight edge. Ed O’Bannon was one of the truly legendary NCAA Tournament players. Unfortunately that was the pinnacle of his career. Now he just tries to steal money from them in court that they stole from him. Toby Bailey, Cameron Dollar, and Tyus Edney made this team an unstoppable force of nature though.
6. 2001 Duke. This just keeps getting harder and harder (that’s what she said). But seriously, this team had it all. Shane Battier nailing threes and playing the inside and out game. Carlos Boozer dominating the low post. Mike Dunleavy and Jay Williams having their way on the perimeter. Nate James 20th year in college. Truly a legendary team who beat Arizona by 15 in the Finals.
5. 1999 UConn. Easily the best of Calhoun’s three championship squads. Bonus points for winning with the fattest point guard of all time in Khalid El-Amein. They beat a seemingly unbeatable Duke for their first title that year. They were 9.5 point dogs in that game and won, which makes it the biggest upset in tournament history. But they were also 33-2 that year and had a completely disgusting lineup led by fat boy, Rip Hamilton, Ricky Moore, Kevin Freeman, and the legend himself – Jake Voshkuhl.
4. 1992 Duke. Also known as the team who tore the Fab Five a new asshole. Laettner’s senior year was the year of “the shot.” RIP Jamal Mashburn. This team was a force to be reckoned with. After running through the Wildcats they beat a NASTY Indiana team led by Calbert Cheaney, before feasting on the Fab Five in one of the most lopsided Finals in tournament history.
3. 1996 Kentucky. They only lost twice that year, and both teams they lost to were in the Final Four – SEC Champs Mississippi State and of course Marcus Camby’s UMass Minutemen. Everyone remembers this team. Everyone. If you don’t, you probably need to go find another blog with lukewarm, tepid takes. They beat UMass in the Final Four of course, but it was a travesty those teams didn’t get to meet in the Finals. It was the climax of the Calipari-Pitino rivalry, and a matchup that lives in infamy. Ultimately the combination of Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, Walter McCarty, Jeff Shepherd, Mark Pope, Anthony Epps, Wanye Turner, and Nazr Mohammed was too much for Camby and crew to overcome.
2. 2007 Florida. You may think I’ve over ranked this team, but I’ve never seen one as dominant, besides the team ranked above them. This tournament’s Elite 8 featured four number one seeds, three number twos, and a number three. This is the only time that’s happened. Florida wasn’t challenged once this whole tournament. Not one team came within seven points of them. There simply wasn’t anyone with even comparable talent to that of Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Taurean Green, Corey Brewer, and token white boy three point specialist Lee Humprhey. I hate Florida, but they easily could be number one on this list.
1. 1990 UNLV. Yea, sorry Gators but this was simply a team you didn’t let near your daughter. They were the original bad boys. Jerry Tarkanian makes John Calipari look like a choir boy. Larry Johnson, Anderson Hunt, Greg Anthony, and Stacy Augmon were an absolute force of nature. They smacked the pretty boys from Duke around like a Puritan woman who voiced an opinion. There just hasn’t been, and probably never will be a team this good ever assembled again.
I was inspired to write this after seeing two crappy teams in the finals AND after seeing this bad ass jacket from the lead singer of the Killers on Saturday…
There’s probably lots of spelling and grammatical mistakes in this article because I’m tired and I’m not proofreading it. Kiss my ass if you don’t like it grammar nazis.
Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.