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NCAA tournament at 75: The top teams

The NCAA tournament packs a wallop annually, and sometimes it even gloriously and perfectly comes together, the magical moment creating the national title. When you get Lorenzo Charles in 1983 or Keith Smart in 1987 or Mario Chalmers in 2008, you get karmic basketball bliss.

And sometimes the moment ultimately begets the champion. If Tyus Edney doesn't go coast-to-coast to beat Missouri in the second round, UCLA doesn't win the national championship in 1995.

But when it doesn't, or worse, when the title game is a dud (Butler-Connecticut in 2011, for instance) you can forgive the last instance its shininess, if you will, because of what came before it.

It makes sense then, as the NCAA celebrates its 75th year of madness, that there is a place to not just debate the best champion (my starting five is better than yours) but also to rank the snapshots in time and the players who created them.

It is that combination that makes March inherently madder and the NCAA tournament thoroughly entertaining.

--Dana O'Neil

1. UCLA, 1968
This just wasn't fair. Lew Alcindor scored 34 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as his team earned a 78-55 win over North Carolina in the national title game. Alcindor earned MOP honors that year. In a rematch of the "Game of the Century," Elvin Hayes struggled as Houston suffered a 32-point loss against the Bruins in the Final Four. This UCLA team was that good. Lucius Allen, Lynn Shackelford and Mike Warren were all-tourney team members along with Alcindor. The Bruins won three of four tournament games by 21 points or more that season. With Alcindor inside and a strong squad around him, these Bruins would have given opponents fits, regardless of generation. -- Myron Medcalf

2. UCLA, 1972
Four decades before John Calipari won a national title by starting three first-year players, John Wooden accomplished the same feat. Freshmen weren't eligible to play in Division I back then, but with sophomores Greg Lee, Keith Wilkes (who later changed his name to Jamaal), and Bill Walton starting alongside senior Henry Bibby, the Bruins went 30-0 and won their eighth title in nine seasons. Wooden used a fast tempo (UCLA averaged 94 points a game) along with an aggressive zone press to overwhelm opponents. After Walton recorded a 33-21 double-double in a semifinal win over Louisville, UCLA beat Florida State for the title. The Seminoles scored a moral victory by losing 81-76, a margin of defeat 25 points smaller than average for Bruin opponents that season. -- John Gasaway

3. Indiana, 1976
Were it not for Scott May's arm injury in 1975, the Hoosiers might have won back-to-back titles -- one in 1975 and then again in 1976. In any case, they made up for it in 1976, going 32-0 against a legitimately tough Big Ten, nonconference and NCAA tournament schedule before winning the national title. They remain the last undefeated team in college hoops, and it's hard to imagine anyone equaling them anytime soon. -- Eamonn Brennan

4. UCLA, 1967
Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden got a glimpse of what the 1967 Bruins would become the previous season, when his freshman team routinely beat up the varsity squad. Forced to sit out their freshman seasons under NCAA rules, the sophomore class of Lew Alcindor, Kenny Heitz, Lynn Shackelford and Lucius Allen, along with junior Mike Warren, led the Bruins to a 30-0 record and a national championship. It was the first of UCLA's unprecedented seven straight NCAA titles from 1967-73. Alcindor was so dominant in his first college season, averaging 29 points and 15.5 rebounds, that the NCAA banned the dunk shot before the next season. He scored 20 points in a 79-64 rout of Dayton in the championship game and set an NCAA record by making 66.7 percent of his shots in the tournament. --Mark Schlabach

5. Kentucky, 1996
Kentucky had a bevy of pros for Rick Pitino during the 1995-96 season that saw the Cats finish 34-2. This team was as impressive as I can remember in covering 20-plus Final Fours. The Wildcats seemed like professionals who weren't afraid of the moment, constantly embracing challenges. Ron Mercer, Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Wayne Turner, Walter McCarty and Co., formed one of the most loaded rosters in NCAA tournament history and finished with a perfect 16-0 mark in SEC play that season. These Cats were entertaining and played the way Pitino wanted -- defending, trapping and pushing the basketball. -- Andy Katz

6. North Carolina, 1982
James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Michael Jordan. Does much more need to be written? The junior-sophomore-freshman trio combined to give coach Dean Smith his first national title, as Worthy led the team with 15.6 points per game, Perkins grabbed 7.8 rebounds per game, and Jordan shot better than 53 percent -- including making what would become the iconic game-winner in the national title game against Georgetown. The Tar Heels lost only twice that season, to Wake Forest and Virginia, and finished with the best record (32-2) since UNC's 1957 title team. All three stars would go on to become top-four NBA draft picks. --Robbi Pickeral

7. Georgetown, 1984
Georgetown became a national brand and John Thompson Jr. a household name in 1984, when the Hoyas beat the Phi Slamma Jamma Houston squad featuring Hakeem Olajuwon 84-75 in the title game. Thompson Jr. became the first African-American coach to win an NCAA title. A large chunk of Georgetown's success was because of Patrick Ewing, who led his team to the championship game as a freshman, junior and senior. Georgetown was known for its aggression and physicality, but no one could have predicted the type of defensive performance the Hoyas gave against Kentucky in the 1984 title game. Sparked by Ewing, the Hoyas held Kentucky's five starters to 0-for-21 shooting after intermission. Overall, the Wildcats were 3-for-33 in the second half. It was a defensive effort that will likely never be matched. -- Jason King

8. UCLA, 1973
Another late-'60s, early '70s college hoops tournament, another ho-hum UCLA championship, right? Well, sort of. The Bruins did indeed prevail in 1973, which coach John Wooden had made habit of in the decade prior, but they also went undefeated, set a three-year record of 88 straight games without a loss and won the national title thanks to Bill Walton's 44 points on 21-of-22 from the field. So, yeah: another ho-hum UCLA title. -- Eamonn Brennan

9. UCLA, 1969
Just think about this for a second: Lew Alcindor played four years at UCLA, three years with the varsity team. The man who would become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got to be a college senior. That's impossible to imagine, isn't it? But it also offers the easy explanation for the Bruins' title. Combine the mastery and brilliance of John Wooden with the talents of Alcindor and how doesn't UCLA win a national championship? This team won without second-team All-American Lucius Allen, who was suspended for the 1969 campaign and went on to become the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft. It didn't matter. In the national championship game, Alcindor scored 37 points and pulled down 20 rebounds, and UCLA became the first team to win three consecutive national titles. At the time that seemed like a pretty significant accomplishment. Who knew there were four more to come? -- Dana O'Neil

10. UNLV, 1990
No team overcame more distractions than the 1990 Runnin' Rebels en route to winning a national championship. NCAA investigators made at least 11 trips to the UNLV campus during the 1989-90 season, and 10 players were suspended at some point for receiving impermissible benefits. Guard Greg Anthony broke his jaw in mid-January, had it wired shut the next day and showed up wearing a hockey mask at practice. He never missed a game. Led by future NBA first-round picks Anthony, Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon, UNLV survived a 69-67 scare against Ball State in the Sweet 16 and then blasted Loyola Marymount 131-101 to reach the Final Four. The Rebels defeated Georgia Tech 90-81 in the national semifinals and then handed Duke a 103-73 loss in the finals, the most lopsided championship game in history. -- Mark Schlabach

11. Duke, 1992
The Blue Devils' 1991-92 season will always be remembered for Christian Laettner's miraculous and iconic buzzer-beater against Kentucky in the Elite Eight, and rightfully so. But don't let The Shot obscure the other highlights of a remarkable run to the title. For one thing Laettner had a season for the ages. As the featured scorer for a defending national champion, Mike Krzyzewski's star made 58 percent of his 2s and 56 percent of his 3s. Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill weren't too shabby either. Once Duke made its way past the Wildcats, Coach K's team parlayed a 21-3 second-half run into an 81-78 win against Calbert Cheaney and Indiana, before crushing Michigan's Fab Five (the freshman version) 71-51 in the title game. -- John Gasaway

12. San Francisco, 1956
When Bill Russell played at San Francisco, advanced stats were still decades away. The NCAA didn't even count blocks then. So we only know about Russell's defensive prowess through stories and anecdotes. And they all suggest that he was a defensive monster. Russell scored 26 points and grabbed 27 rebounds in his team's 83-71 victory over Iowa in the national title game. He made the all-tournament team for the second consecutive season in his team's second national championship run in a row. But Russell could have led Topeka YMCA to the Final Four. He was that good. The NCAA expanded the lane prior to the start of the 1955-56 season to limit Russell's ability to single-handedly put a lid on the basket. Few programs in this pool matched San Francisco's level of dominance in this era. -- Myron Medcalf

13. NC State, 1974
What did it take to end UCLA's run of seven straight national titles? A skywalker in National Player of the Year David Thompson, a skyscraper in 7-foot-4 center Tommy Burleson and marksman passing of point guard Monte Towe. And a desire to prove it was the best team in the nation after going 27-0 the previous season but missing the NCAA tournament because of probation. The Norm Sloan-coached team, which boasted such good chemistry that it relied on freelance passing more than set plays, went 57-1 over those two seasons, losing only to the UCLA -- who else? -- before besting the Bill Walton-led Bruins in the national semifinals in double overtime. State beat Marquette for the championship. -- Robbi Pickeral

14. Florida, 2007
It almost seemed like a foregone conclusion that Florida would win its second consecutive national championship in 2007. After star players Corey Brewer, Al Horford and Joakim Noah announced they would return for their junior seasons, the Gators started the season ranked No. 1, finished 35-5 and won their final 10 games. They beat UCLA 76-66 in the national semifinals in Atlanta, then defeated Ohio State 84-75 in the finals to become the sport's first back-to-back national champion since Duke in 1991 and '92. Florida won 18 consecutive games in the 2006 and 2007 postseasons, including a 12-0 mark in the NCAA tournament. Although the aforementioned star players would each become an NBA first-round pick, the Gators' chemistry and unselfish play might have been their greatest attribute. -- Mark Schlabach

15. Connecticut, 1999
When Jim Calhoun took over at Connecticut in 1986, the idea that it would one day become a (if not the) Northeast power that would churn out NBA talent on a yearly basis, and would beat a star-studded Duke team to win a national title in 1999, was silly. But it happened thanks in large part to future NBA All-Star Rip Hamilton's sweet shooting and late-game heroics, with a formidable supporting cast led by backcourt mate Khalid El-Amin. The Huskies beat their Big East opponents by an average of 11.8 points per game during the 1998-99 season -- Eamonn Brennan

16. Kentucky, 2012
"I wanted everybody to see we were the best team this season. We were the best team. I wanted this to be one for the ages." That was Kentucky coach John Calipari just a few minutes after cutting down the nets at the 2012 Final Four, where his collection of NBA-ready talent -- the most important among it freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist -- had finished steamrolling the rest of college basketball with stifling defense, hyper-efficient offense and a cohesion well beyond their years. It's too early to know whether the 2012 Wildcats will be a team for the ages, but there's no doubt they're the team for their age. -- Eamonn Brennan

17. Arkansas, 1994
The 1994 Razorbacks had only one future NBA first-round pick -- forward Corliss Williamson -- but coach Nolan Richardson had a collection of tough, tenacious, blue-collar players, who were more than willing to wear down opponents with his "40 Minutes of Hell" defensive pressure. The Razorbacks were ranked No. 1 for 10 weeks during the regular season. After going 25-3, they were the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region and won their first five NCAA tournament games by at least eight points. In the national semifinals, Arkansas guards Corey Beck and Clint McDaniel smothered Arizona guards Damon Stoudamire and Khalid Reeves in a 91-82 victory. Against Duke in the championship game, Scotty Thurman hit a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left to lift Arkansas to a 76-72 victory and its first national championship. -- Mark Schlabach

18. Ohio State, 1960
The 1960 Ohio State team featured six players who were drafted by NBA teams, including Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek, as well as Bob Knight, one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history. Led by their sophomore class of Havlicek, Lucas and Mel Nowell and junior Larry Siegfried, the Buckeyes averaged 90.4 points -- long before the 3-pointer and shot clock -- and beat their opponents by an average of 20 points. OSU won the 25-team NCAA tournament by defeating New York University 76-54 in the national semifinals and California 75-55 in the finals. Over the course of three seasons, Havlicek and Lucas led the Buckeyes to a 78-6 record and they never lost at home. They reached the finals of the 1961 and '62 NCAA tournaments, but lost to Cincinnati both times. --Mark Schlabach

19. UCLA, 1964
Coach John Wooden, according to the Los Angeles Times, said this team was "perhaps my favorite" -- maybe because it was his first to win the title at UCLA. It was his shortest team to win it all, as center Fred Slaughter was only 6-foot-5, but junior Gail Goodrich led the team with 21.5 ppg, and senior Walt Hazzard added 18.6 (becoming the Bruins' all-time leading scorer to that point, with 1,401 points, by the end of the season). It marked the school's first 30-0 unbeaten season, setting the stage for more (and more and more) to come. -- Robbi Pickeral

20. North Carolina, 2009
Coach Roy Williams' second national title team had plenty of talent, with reigning National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough, speedy point guard Ty Lawson and sharpshooting wingers Wayne Ellington and Danny Green all opting to return to school. Just as important: It had plenty of motivation. After losing to Kansas in shocking fashion in the national semifinals in 2008, this group had one goal -- win the NCAA title. And UNC did it by racing up the court and running up the score. It scored fewer than 70 points in only one game and won all six of its NCAA tournament contests by double digits. -- Robbi Pickeral

21. Duke, 2001
Maybe the best way to explain this team is to understand Shane Battier. He was the last of a heralded recruiting class, the others opting to leave Durham and embark on their NBA careers early. Battier stayed, determined to finish what he started, and that's how the Blue Devils played all season -- determined. They lost four games in 2000-01, lost Carlos Boozer for a stretch and trailed by as many as 22 to Maryland in the national semifinals. Yet they rallied in each instance, most stunningly in that game against the Terrapins, the biggest comeback in Final Four history. By the time they were done, Mike Krzyzewski had his third national championship. Battier was joined by future No. 2 pick Jason Williams on the All-America team. -- Dana O'Neil

22. Kansas, 2008
Kansas' most recent national championship will always be remembered for Mario Chalmers' dramatic 3-pointer that sent the game against Memphis into overtime, where the Jayhawks eventually prevailed 75-68. Chalmers, though, was hardly the only star of one of the greatest KU squads ever assembled. Wing Brandon Rush was named first-team All-Big 12 three straight seasons, forward Darrell Arthur -- who had 20 points in the title game -- was one of the most gifted athletes to ever wear a Kansas uniform and point guard Sherron Collins won more games in a four-year span than any Jayhawk in history. It was a roster full of stars -- six players were eventually drafted -- who sacrificed statistics and personal glory for the good of the team. No player averaged more than 13 points. -- Jason King

23. Louisville, 1980
Led by "Dr. Dunkenstein" -- guard Darrell Griffith, who got plenty of use out of his 48-inch vertical jump -- the high-flying Cards went 33-3 en route to the NCAA title. Griffith averaged 22 points and set a school season record with 825 points as Cardinals went undefeated in conference play and won two overtime games during the NCAA tournament. That team, dubbed "The Doctors of Dunk," are also credited for popularizing the high-five. -- Robbi Pickeral

24. Texas Western, 1966
Texas Western, now UTEP, helped change college basketball when it defeated Adolph Rupp's Kentucky squad in 1966. The Miners' all-black starting five outplayed the Wildcats' all-white starting five in a 72-65 victory. "They were just better than we were tonight," Rupp said after the game. Nothing came easily for the Miners. They advanced to the Final Four only after an overtime win against Cincinnati and a double-overtime victory against Kansas. Bobby Joe Hill led the squad with 20 points in the title game. Don Haskins was a reputable coach and Hill and Co. stayed in the top 10 of the Associated Press/UPI polls throughout the season. "Glory Road" discusses the team's legacy. But make no mistake. The Miners were an outstanding team that deserves credit for its talent, too. -- Myron Medcalf

25. Michigan State, 1979
If Twitter had existed in 1979, Michigan State would have been written off for dead at 4-4 in Big Ten play. But by the time Magic Johnson and Greg Kelser reached the Final Four in Salt Lake City, they were in peak form for the title game everyone had wanted all along: MSU against Larry Bird and 33-0 Indiana State. The title matchup that year is remembered not so much for the game itself (Jud Heathcote's team won rather easily, 75-64) as for ushering in a new era in the tournament. That night still ranks as the most watched basketball game of any type -- NCAA, NBA, or Olympic -- in the history of the Nielsen ratings. -- John Gasaway

26. Connecticut, 2004
Other than their Final Four matchup against Duke, the Huskies dominated the 2004 NCAA tournament. Led by All-American Emeka Okafor, UConn was rarely challenged in the Big Dance. The Huskies won four of their six games by double digits, three by 16 or more. Jim Calhoun's program could hurt teams in different ways. It had a perimeter/slashing threat in Ben Gordon and a great supporting cast (Josh Boone, Rashad Anderson, Denham Brown, Charlie Villanueva). And no team -- regardless of era -- would have had an easy time getting to the rim with Okafor in the paint. UConn was fifth in adjusted defensive efficiency that season, per Ken Pomeroy. -- Myron Medcalf

27. North Carolina, 2005
It didn't take long for Roy Williams to make an impact at North Carolina. In just his second season after leaving Kansas, Williams guided the Tar Heels to a 33-4 record that included a 75-70 victory over Bruce Weber's Illinois squad in the title game. It was the first national title for Williams, who inherited an all-star cast from previous coach Matt Doherty. North Carolina's roster featured eventual first-round picks Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Marvin Williams and Sean May. Four years later, Williams won a second title with a roster comprised of players he recruited. -- Jason King

28. Syracuse, 2003
The beauty of basketball is that you need only five guys to play. If one of them happens to be a transcendent superstar, then you could very easily have a champion. That was Syracuse in 2003. There were good players on that team -- Hakim Warrick, Kueth Duany and Gerry McNamara -- but there was one great one. Carmelo Anthony is what turned a decent Orange team into the one standing tall at the end. Syracuse, as is always the case, played good defense. Warrick's length, after all, proved to be the difference-maker in the national title game. But really this team was about Melo, one player turning one team into a champion. -- Dana O'Neil

29. San Francisco, 1955
They didn't have their own gym, so they practiced at a nearby high school. Their two best players -- Bill Russell and K.C. Jones -- weren't offered scholarships by any other college. And during a time of racial unrest, the San Francisco Dons started three African-American players who some people say helped modernize the game. With Russell swatting shots, San Francisco was a defense-oriented team that took pride in its athleticism and ability to play above the rim. The Dons defeated LaSalle in the 1955 title game and, by the next season, their entertaining style was drawing sellout crowds to gymnasiums across the country. -- Jason King

30. Kentucky, 1978
The Wildcats had not secured the national title in 20 years prior to Joe B. Hall's run to the championship with this squad. Jack "Goose" Givens led the way with a ridiculous 41-point effort in the title game victory over Duke, earning MOP honors as he led the Wildcats to their fifth national title. Rick Robey, a 6-foot-10 forward/center, also earned all-tourney honors that year. This wasn't the program's most dominant run to championship. The Wildcats trailed against Florida State in the opening round and escaped Michigan State in the regional finals. But it was a solid team that stepped up in crucial moments. -- Myron Medcalf

31. Michigan State, 2000
Michigan State opened the season playing without one of its "Flintstones," a trio of blue-collar players from nearby Flint, Mich., who became the heart and soul of the Spartans during their national championship run. Team captain Mateen Cleaves missed MSU's first 13 games while recovering from a stress fracture in his right foot. The Spartans went 9-4 without him, then won 14 of their next 17 games after he returned in early January. The Spartans won the Big Ten tournament and then each of their first five games in the NCAA tournament by 11 points or more. MSU beat No. 5 seed Florida 89-76 in the finals to win its second national championship. Cleaves finished his senior season the way it started -- on crutches, after he rolled his right ankle in the second half against the Gators. He returned to the floor and finished with 18 points. Morris Peterson, another Flint native, scored 21 points. -- Mark Schlabach

32. Maryland, 2002
Maryland wanted to get back to the Final Four after a surprising run in 2001. The backcourt of Juan Dixon and Steve Blake weren't the most talented of any in the country (although both were pros), yet they persevered. The Terps fed off each other quite well and had the right balance inside. The final against Indiana was a bit anti-climatic, but not for Williams. The national title culminated quite a run for Williams, where he took his alma mater from an NCAA investigation to subsequent penalties to the top of the sport. This team had winners. That's what I remember most about this squad. They defended and didn't quit or take possessions off. -- Andy Katz

33. Indiana, 1987
On the heels of missing the 1985 NCAA tournament and then a first-round exit in 1986, Indiana fans weren't sure what to expect from the 1986-87 squad. It was college basketball's first season with the 3-pointer, which seemed tailor-made for sharp-shooting senior Steve Alford. IU coach Bob Knight added junior college transfers Dean Garrett and Keith Smart and put together a team that shared the Big Ten title. The Hoosiers breezed through the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament, but needed Rick Calloway's bank shot off an air ball to beat LSU 77-76 in the regional finals. At the Final Four in New Orleans, IU overcame UNLV guard Freddie Banks' 10 3-pointers to survive with a 97-93 victory. Then Smart made one of the most memorable shots in NCAA history, nailing a 16-footer from the corner with three seconds to go in a 74-73 win over Syracuse in the finals. -- Mark Schlabach

34. Duke, 1991
Sometimes people forget how long it took Coach K to make Duke the Duke you know today. It took a decade, but by 1990-91 the Blue Devils had Christian Laettner, Danny Hurley and a talented freshman named Grant Hill, who Duke was hoping -- though no one else believed it -- would be the difference between the previous season's 30-point blowout suffered to that bone-crushing UNLV team in the Final Four. Indeed, Hill helped the Blue Devils get back to the Final Four, where they met UNLV -- and prevailed. It was Coach K's first national title and a harbinger of what was to come.
--Eamonn Brennan

35. UCLA, 1970
No Alcindor? No problem. With only two returning starters from the previous year's title team, the Bruins nonetheless won their fourth straight championship with a balanced attack. Junior forward Sidney Wicks led the team with 18.6 points and 11.9 rebounds -- but all five starters averaged double figures, including guards Henry Bibby (15.6 ppg) and John Vallely (16.3). Two players (Wicks and Steve Patterson) averaged double-figure rebounds, and three starters (Wicks, Bibby and Curtis Rowe) shot better than 50 percent from the field. -- Robbi Pickeral

36. Marquette, 1977
Perhaps more than any other team that won a national championship, the 1977 Marquette squad was a reflection of their legendary coach, Al McGuire. A collection of tough, hard-nosed kids from Chicago, New York and Jersey City, N.J., the Warriors played with street smarts and tenacity. After McGuire announced at midseason that he would retire at season's end, the Warriors took a 20-7 record into the NCAA tournament. They survived two big scares, beating Kansas State by one point in the second round and UNC Charlotte by two points in the national semifinals. With the score tied at 49 in the final seconds, UNC Charlotte's Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell deflected a pass to Marquette's Jerome Whitehead, who dribbled once and then tried to dunk the ball. Maxwell partially blocked his shot, but the ball bounced through the rim, giving the Warriors a 51-49 victory. They defeated North Carolina 67-59 in the finals, leaving McGuire weeping at the end of the bench. -- Mark Schlabach

37. North Carolina, 1957
With such players as 6-foot-5 big man Lennie Rosenbluth and 5-11 guard Tommy Kearns -- who jumped center in the national title game against Kansas 7-footer Wilt Chamberlain -- these guys were fighters. To finish a perfect 32-0, the Tar Heels had to squeeze by Wake Forest in the ACC tournament, outlast Michigan State in three overtimes in the national semifinals and beat the Jayhawks in three more overtimes the following game -- without Rosenbluth, their leading scorer, who fouled out in regulation. Key to those extra periods were Pete Brennan, who buried a shot to force the third OT against MSU, and Joe Quigg, who batted away a pass to Chamberlain to seal the title victory. -- Robbi Pickeral

38. Florida, 2006
The Gators began the season unranked but captured everyone's attention when they started the season with a school-record 17 consecutive wins -- and finished it with 11 straight victories. These guys made for quite a potent mix. Joakim Noah, who would become the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, led the team with 14.2 points per game for the season and blocked 95 shots. Taurean Green dished out 184 assists, only six shy of the school record. Lee Humphrey set a UF record with 113 3-pointers, and Corey Brewer did a little of everything, averaging 12.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists, and grabbing 61 steals. This was the first of the Gators' back-to-back titles. -- Robbi Pickeral

39. Arizona, 1997
Lute Olson's Wildcats pulled off an unprecedented feat by defeating three No. 1 seeds en route to the program's only NCAA title. The championship was the culmination of one of the most massive rebuilding jobs in college basketball history, as Arizona had made just two NCAA tournament appearances in 32 years before Olson was hired from Iowa in 1983. The fourth-seeded Wildcats' victory over No. 1 overall seed Kansas was probably the biggest upset of the tournament that year. They also defeated North Carolina in the Final Four in what would be Dean Smith's last game. The Wildcats, who beat Kentucky for the championship, returned all five starters (Miles Simon, Mike Bibby, Michael Dickerson, A.J. Bramlett and Bennett Davison) the following season but were upset by Utah in the Elite Eight. -- Jason King

40. Cincinnati, 1962
Oscar Robertson never won a national championship. After the Big O's departure, however, the Bearcats reached the pinnacle of the sport. A 6-foot-10 star named Paul Hogue was partially responsible. He was named most outstanding player for the 1962 NCAA tournament, after finishing with 22 points and 19 rebounds in a 71-59 win over Ohio State in the national title game. That Ohio State squad featured John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas. But Hogue wasn't a solo act. Tom Thacker, Tony Yates and others were key pieces for one of the best teams in the university's history. It was their second consecutive national title victory. With Hogue in the middle, the Bearcats would have competed for crowns in other generations, too. -- Myron Medcalf

41. UCLA, 1971
UCLA's fifth straight national championship didn't come with the characteristic dominance of previous years, but Curtis Rowe, Sidney Wicks and Steve Patterson made sure the Bruins didn't not concede NCAA tournament supremacy in the two seasons between Lew Alcindor's departure and Bill Walton's arrival. Patterson scored 29 points in the title game win over Villanova, with Henry Bibby adding 17. Wicks (first-team) and Rowe (second-team) were both named to the All-America team. -- Conor Nevins

42. North Carolina, 1993
It seems unfair, sometimes, that this Tar Heels team is remembered as winning the national title because of Michigan forward Chris Webber's timeout-that-wasn't. Because it earned in in so many other ways -- including tenacity. Led by 7-footer Eric Montross, defense-minded George Lynch and sharpshooting guard Donald Williams, UNC rallied from double-figure deficits three times during its NCAA tournament run, including a 23-13 mark against the Wolverines in the championship game. It lost only four games all season, and what it may have lacked in notoriety it made up for in resilience. -- Robbi Pickeral

43. Kentucky, 1998
The 1998 Wildcats certainly weren't as talented as Kentucky's other seven national championship teams, but no UK squad was as resilient as the "Comeback Cats." While playing in Smith's methodical style of "Tubby Ball," Kentucky finished 35-4 and won a national championship despite not having any of the All-Americans or future NBA lottery picks that were abundant on previous Cats teams under Rick Pitino. UK earned its moniker during the final three games of the NCAA tournament. The Cats came from 17 points behind to beat Duke 86-84 in the regional finals, and then erased a 10-point deficit in the second half of an 86-85 overtime victory over Stanford in the national semifinals. In the national championship game, UK spotted Utah a 10-point lead at the half before winning 78-69. -- Mark Schlabach

44. California, 1959
The Bears traveled to Freedom Hall in Lexington, Ky., for their national semifinal and shocked highly favored Cincinnati and Oscar Robertson, 64-58. The win earned Cal a date with West Virginia and Jerry West in the title game. Despite a 28-11 double-double by West, the Bears prevailed 71-70 behind 35 combined points from Denny Fitzpatrick and Bob Dalton. One of the earliest and best Cinderella stories in tournament history, Pete Newell's team won the title despite not having a single player who made first-team All-Pacific Coast. "Three coaches had the most influence on college basketball," Bob Knight once said. "Clair Bee, Hank Iba, and Pete. And I think Pete had the greatest total grasp. He was truly remarkable." -- John Gasaway

45. Cincinnati, 1961
Most programs that lose the best player in school history to graduation and their head coach to an administrative role take a step backward the following season. But the 1961 Cincinnati Bearcats actually got better following the departure of Oscar Robertson and the promotion of George Smith to athletic director. Early in the season the Bearcats were actually booed by their own fans after first-year coach Ed Jucker installed a slower, more measured offensive attack. It was the same kind of attack that allowed Pete Newell's Cal squad to beat Cincinnati in the Final Four the previous two seasons. Cincinnati dropped three of its first eight games but never lost again after that. The Bearcats didn't feature a true star, but players such as Bob Wiesenhahn and Paul Hogue helped form the most cohesive unit in college basketball that season. -- Jason King

46. UCLA, 1965
If John Wooden's first title in 1964 gave everyone a little taste of what was to come, the back-to-back win in 1965 was something like Jay-Z's "Public Service Announcement." (It's really funny to imagine 1965-vintage Wooden singing this, by the way.) The rest of the sport had little time to see what was coming: By the end of the decade, UCLA would be an otherworldly basketball force, rattling off national titles like glee-club attendance medals. And it all had to start somewhere. -- Eamonn Brennan

47. Indiana, 1981
Years before he carried the Detroit Pistons, Isiah Thomas carried Indiana on his back in the 1981 NCAA tournament. Thomas scored 23 points in the national title game, a 63-50 victory over James Worthy's North Carolina squad. But he didn't do it alone. Future first-round NBA draft picks Ray Tolbert and Randy Wittman helped him. With that trio, the Hoosiers could have competed with a lot of teams on this list. Plus, Bob Knight was approaching the prime of his career then. Those Hoosiers were tough and disciplined. There are certainly more talented teams in this assembly. Few grittier than this crew, though. -- Myron Medcalf

48. NC State, 1983
The "Cardiac Pack" will always be remembered for Lorenzo Charles' national championship dunk and coach Jim Valvano's ensuing run for a hug. But the pieces that got the Wolfpack to that moment were equally key. There were senior forward Thurl Bailey, who led the team with 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, and senior point guard Sidney Lowe, who averaged 7.5 assists per game. Backcourt mate Dereck Whittenburg, who broke his foot, was thought to be done for the season yet returned and made 47.6 percent of his 3-point attempts for the season. On paper, perhaps, this team didn't look like a national title contender at the beginning of the season. But momentum carried it there. -- Robbi Pickeral

49. UCLA, 1995
UCLA fans waited 20 years for their first NCAA championship since the 1975 title run under John Wooden, and the Bruins delivered in grand fashion. UCLA went 31-2 and defeated Nolan Richardson's Arkansas in the NCAA title game, when national player of the year Ed O'Bannon scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds en route to being named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. Just as memorable from that championship run was Tyus Edney's coast-to-coast layup as time expired to beat Missouri 75-74 in the second round. -- Jason King

50. Michigan, 1989
Members of the Fab Five were only beginning to build their reputations as high school stars when Michigan embarked on its 1989 title run. Steve Fisher was on the bench during the Wolverines' run to the Final Four in Seattle, just not in the seat he occupied during the regular season. Head coach Bill Frieder shocked Michigan by announcing he was leaving Ann Arbor for Arizona State just before the tournament was set to begin. Fisher was thrust into emergency interim duty and behind Glenn Rice's 184 points -- a tournament record that still stands -- the Wolverines captured their first and only national championship. -- Conor Nevins

51. Oklahoma A&M, 1946
Bob Kurland was the Shaq of the 1940s. College basketball officials didn't really like the fact that he could snatch shots from the air, so they implemented a goaltending rule. Kurland scored 23 points for Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) in its 43-40 victory over North Carolina in the 1946 title game. Kurland was a consensus All-American that year, too. It's difficult to measure teams from this era against more modern programs because eight teams made the NCAA tournament field. Also, few players in that era could match Kurland's size and skill. In the championship matchup, 6-foot-6 Horace McKinney encountered early foul trouble as he tried to contain the 7-footer. It would not have been that easy against a team that featured some of the talented bigs who arrived in subsequent decades. -- Myron Medcalf

52. Villanova, 1985
The Wildcats hardly had momentum going into the 1985 NCAA tournament. They lost their final regular-season game by 23 points and then lost in the Big East tournament semifinals by 15 points. Villanova, the No. 8 seed in the Southeast Region, entered the NCAAs with a 19-10 record. They survived the opening round by beating No. 9 seed Dayton by two points. Then the Wildcats upset No. 1 seed Michigan by four points, No. 5 seed Maryland by three points and No. 2 seed North Carolina by 12. Remarkably, the Wildcats put together the perfect weekend at the Final Four. They beat No. 2 seed Memphis State 52-45 in the national semifinals and then shot 79 percent from the floor (22-for-28) in a historic 66-64 upset of No. 1 seed Georgetown in the championship game. Led by center Ed Pinckney and forward Dwayne McClain, the Wildcats were hardly the most dominant team ever to win a national championship, but they played their best when it mattered most. -- Mark Schlabach

53. La Salle, 1954
Tom Gola rightly is remembered as "The Guy" for the Explorers in 1954. He averaged an unfathomable 22.8 points and 20.4 rebounds in the NCAA tournament. But he was surrounded by a terrific supporting cast -- and only one senior. Frank Blatcher averaged 13.4 points per game, Fran O'Malley 10.2 and Frank O'Hara, the lone senior, 6.8. The ability of Ken Loeffler's team to spread the wealth not only made La Salle tough to defend, it made Gola almost unstoppable. -- Dana O'Neil

54. Louisville, 1986
Pervis Ellison will go down as the name from the 1986 Final Four. Ellison dominated his position with 25 points and 11 boards in the final over Duke. The Blue Devils had the better record and more name players -- with Johnny Dawkins and Tommy Amaker -- and this title game appearance began Duke's run as an elite program under Mike Krzyzewski. The Cardinals were more of a one-hit wonder in the mid-'90s with this title. Louisville was efficient and may not have had as many stars as Duke, but it didn't wilt under pressure. "Never Nervous Pervis" delivered when the game mattered most. -- Andy Katz

55. Connecticut, 2011
When Connecticut lost seven of its last 11 regular-season games in 2010-11, a despondent Jim Calhoun said: "Now we have to hope to have a very good postseason." The Huskies had one. Behind Kemba Walker's relentless drives to the tin, Jeremy Lamb's accurate shooting and Alex Oriakhi's ferocious offensive rebounding, UConn won five games in five days to take the Big East tournament title. After close wins over Arizona and Kentucky carried UConn to the title game, the defense took over and slammed the door shut on Butler, 53-41. In just 27 days Connecticut had gone from a No. 9 seed in the Big East tournament to national champion. -- John Gasaway

56. Duke, 2010
Duke's last NCAA championship squad didn't feature the star power of some of its previous winners. No future lottery picks like Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, Shane Battier or Jay Williams. Still, this was a dominant bunch that went 35-5 thanks to players such as Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek. As good as the Blue Devils were, their championship was hardly won with ease. Duke survived a scare from a physical, more athletic Baylor squad in the Elite Eight before escaping with a 78-71 win. And its 61-59 NCAA title win over Butler wasn't clinched until the final play, when the Bulldogs' Gordon Hayward's half-court heave clanked off the rim as time expired. -- Jason King

57. Kansas, 1988
Plagued by injuries, the Jayhawks were just 21-11 on Selection Sunday and considered an NCAA tournament "bubble team." But Larry Brown's team received an at-large bid and was given a No. 6 seed, which was all Danny Manning needed. Manning averaged 24.8 points that season and clearly saved his best for last. His 31-point, 18-rebound performance in the NCAA championship game over No. 1 seed Oklahoma sparked the Jayhawks to an 83-79 victory. Manning became the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft months later. Brown left after the season to become coach of the San Antonio Spurs. -- Jason King

58. UCLA, 1975
This was not John Wooden's best team, but it's certainly one of his more memorable assemblies because it was his final year on the sideline. Wooden earned his shot at a 10th national title after UCLA beat Louisville on a shot in the final seconds of overtime during the Final Four. Richard Washington scored 28 points in the national championship game, and Dave Meyers, a first-team All-American who would be selected No. 2 in that year's NBA draft, added 24. Wooden's squad did not bully the field the way some of his other squads had, but it maintained his legacy and sent him into retirement on a high note. -- Myron Medcalf

59. Kentucky, 1949
In some ways it shouldn't have come as a surprise that Kentucky claimed its second straight NCAA title in 1949. The Wildcats, after all, returned the player who had won them the trophy the previous season. Alex Groza was a three-time All-American and the leading scorer on the 1948 U.S. Olympic team. Groza scored 25 points -- no other Wildcat tallied more than five points --- in Kentucky's 46-36 victory over Oklahoma A&M in the national championship game in Seattle. He was then selected with the No. 1 pick in the 1949 NBA draft by the Indianapolis Olympians, for whom he averaged 23.4 points as a rookie. But in 1951, an investigation revealed that Groza and teammates Ralph Beard and Dale Barnstable accepted bribes to shave points while at Kentucky. Groza and Beard were banned from the NBA for life. -- Jason King

60. Kansas, 1952
Long before Danny and the Miracles and Mario's Miracle, Kansas' basketball program prided itself on Clyde Lovellette and the accomplishments of the 1952 Jayhawks. There was nothing "miraculous" about KU's 80-63 victory over St. John's in the NCAA title game that season. Just as he had all season, Lovellette dominated the game by scoring 33 points and snaring 17 rebounds in a contest the Jayhawks led by 14 points at halftime. Lovellette became the first player in NCAA history to lead the nation in scoring and win a national title in the same season. The championship was the crowning achievement for revered Kansas coach Phog Allen, for whom KU's historic building, Allen Fieldhouse, is named. -- Jason King

61. Holy Cross, 1947
You might know that Bob Cousy -- an all-time basketball great at every level, college or pro -- played for Holy Cross, and helped the Crusaders win a national title in 1947. What you might not know is that Cousy didn't even start for the 1947 Crusaders. Instead, coach Alvin "Doggie" Julian told reporters he had 10 starters and used his school's sudden interest in hoops, and the deep talent ranks he recruited in years prior, to play two nearly equally effective lines. -- Eamonn Brennan

62. Utah, 1944
World War II sent a multitude of college athletes overseas. So it wasn't exactly a typical year for college basketball. But Utah's title run was impressive because the Utes earned the crown with five freshman starters. They beat Dartmouth 42-40 in the title game on a buzzer-beater. Arnie Ferrin scored 22 points in the championship matchup. Their path to the crown was an odd one. After losing a first-round matchup in the NIT, the Utes replaced Arkansas after the latter pulled out following a serious car crash involving players. The Utes went on to defeat Missouri, Iowa State and Dartmouth to seize the crown. And then they defeated St. John's, the NIT champion that season, 43-36, in a matchup following their NCAA title victory. One of the most peculiar trips to the national title in NCAA history. -- Myron Medcalf

63. CCNY. 1950
Once upon a time, City College of New York was a legitimate basketball program, one capable of competing with the Kentuckys and Holy Crosses of the world on the Division I hoops stage. But that was before a 1951 point-shaving scandal uncovered that three stars of the 1950 CCNY Beavers had been involved with organized crime, just a few of the 32 players at various programs across the country (ranging from Kentucky to Bradley) implicated. CCNY de-emphasized its athletics programs as a result, dropped down to Division III and was never heard from on the hardwood again.
--Eamonn Brennan

64. Kentucky, 1948
Adolph Rupp is a legend in Kentucky for the four national titles he brought to the state. This was his first, and it was won in a way that would define the success of his tenure -- with hard-nosed defense. The Wildcats held Baylor to just 16 first-half points in their 58-42 championship game victory, which made Kentucky just the second program ever to win both the NIT and the NCAA title. And it got all those folks in Kentucky riled up about hoops for the first time. It's hard to imagine a universe in which this isn't the case, but it had to start somewhere. --Eamonn Brennan

65. Loyola (Ill.), 1963
On a national level, Loyola may not be remembered as much as past NCAA champions from tradition-rich schools. But you can bet the 1963 Ramblers are still celebrated in Illinois, as they are the only school in state history to win a national basketball title. Racism was still an issue in college basketball in 1963, but that didn't prevent Loyola from starting four black players. The Ramblers lost two games all season and led the country with a scoring average of 91.8 points per game. Loyola's players were in such good shape that each of them played all 45 minutes in a 60-58 overtime victory against Cincinnati in the NCAA title game. -- Jason King

66. Indiana, 1953
Before Bob Knight, there was Branch McCracken. The Monrovia, Ind., native was born in 1908 and never missed a game during his playing career at Indiana, where he scored 32.2 percent of his team's points during his career, cut a figure worthy of a mid-century art-deco propaganda poster and later returned to coach. McCracken's first title came in 1940; his second came in 1953, when three-time All-American Don Schlundt carried IU to a Big Ten title and a one-point championship game win over Kansas.
-- Eamonn Brennan

67. Oklahoma A&M, 1945
Oklahoma State's first appearance in the NCAA tournament (it was known as Oklahoma A&M then) resulted in its first national title, as 7-footer Bob Kurland scored 22 points and Cecil Hankins added 15 to beat New York in the championship game. Coach Henry Iba's hallmarks were a disciplined, ball-control attack and smothering defense, and that team became the first to record back-to-back titles, winning the championship in 1946 as well. -- Robbi Pickeral

68. Oregon, 1939
Coach Howard Hobson's team was big for its time, boasting a 6-foot-8 center in Urgel (Slim) Wintermute and a pair of 6-4 forwards in Laddie Gale and John Dick, and earning the nickname "Tall Firs" from newspaper editor L.H. Gregory. They also liked to play fast -- with the tempo paced by guards Bobby Anet and Wally Johansen -- which frustrated shorter, slower teams. That combination of height and speed helped pace Oregon to the NCAA's first basketball title; it beat Ohio State 46-33. -- Robbi Pickeral

69. Kentucky, 1958
Adolph Rupp's squad rose above teams that featured Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati), Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas) and Elgin Baylor (Seattle) to win the national title. That Kentucky squad did not feature one consensus All-American. But it beat Temple by a point on a Vernon Hatton shot in the final seconds during the Final Four. And it defeated Seattle by 12 in the championship game despite Baylor's 25-point effort. Hatton and Johnny Cox made the all-tournament team. But location certainly helped. The Wildcats played their regional games in Lexington and the Final Four in Louisville. It was like a home game for the program. They may have experienced a different outcome at a more neutral site. -- Myron Medcalf

70. Stanford, 1942
The Cardinal defeated Dartmouth 53-38 in the national title game, even though standout Jim Pollard missed the game with an illness. The forward scored 43 points combined in the two games that preceded the championship. With Pollard sidelined, sophomore Howie Dallmar scored 15 points to secure MOP honors. Donald Burness, who only played nine minutes and failed to score, was a consensus All-American that year. -- Myron Medcalf

71. Indiana, 1940
The Hoosiers' first NCAA title came in a season when they didn't even win the Big Ten. Purdue (10-2) was the conference champion, but the NCAA tournament selected Indiana (9-3) because it had defeated the Boilermakers twice. The tournament was only in its second season and wasn't regarded as a very big deal. IU's faculty athletics committee almost didn't allow the Hoosiers to participate. Luckily, it did. Indiana defeated Kansas 60-42 in Kansas City, marking the first time all season it had reached the 60-point plateau. An Associated Press account of the game noted that Branch McCracken's Indiana squad shot "an amazing 33 percent" against the Jayhawks. Normal shooting percentages in those days were about half of that. Marvin Huffman, an All-American in both football and basketball, scored 12 points in the title game and became the first person ever to be named Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four. -- Jason King

72. Kentucky, 1951
Adolph Rupp won his third national championship in four seasons after leading Kentucky past Kansas State in the 1951 title game. The Wildcats were led by 7-foot center Bill Spivey, a first-team All-American who scored 22 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in the win over K-State. The Wildcats finished the season 32-2 and beat Louisville, St. John's and Illinois during the tournament. -- Conor Nevins

73. Wyoming, 1943
If you're dismayed by the current epoch of conference realignment, have faith in the fact that conferences come and go all too quickly. This Cowboys team played in something called the Mountain States Conference. Yes, basketball was different then -- the Cowboys lost just two games that season, one to Duquesne, one to the Denver Legion team. Had all five starters for Illinois -- which was ranked No. 1 to end the regular season -- not had to serve in active duty in World War II that season, the eventual outcome might have been different. The tourney's MOP was Cowboys' guard Ken Sailors, who is widely credited for creating the modern jump shot. -- Eamonn Brennan

74. Wisconsin, 1941
It would be easy enough to use the 1941 Badgers to poke fun at the current incarnation -- which plays stifling defense in 55-possession portions, a combination that produces some truly ugly score lines -- but that would be wrong for a variety of reasons. For one, 2013 Wisconsin is really good. For another, so were the 1941 Badgers. Wisconsin considers the 1941 team one of the great unlikely success stories in program history, as Harold "Bud" Foster's group struggled to a 3-2 record out of the gate before finishing 20-3 and sealing the national title with a 39-34 win over Washington State -- the only national title in school history. -- Eamonn Brennan