In the spirit of March Madness (Actually it’s because I finished Midterms and still have a day until Spring Break), I have decided to compile a list of my 20 favorite NCAA Tournament teams.
Please note that this list is extremely biased and these are the teams that I have had the most fun watching play. Hope this brings back some memories!
1. 2010 Butler Bulldogs: (5 seed, National Championship Game)
Key Players: Gordon Hayward aka “baby faced assassin”, Matt Howard, Ron Nored, Willie Veasley,- Knocked off number 1 seeded Syracuse in route to the National Championship game, in hometown Indianapolis, vs. Duke. Players went to their classes on the day of the Championship game.
2. 2011 Butler Bulldogs: (8 seed, National Championship)
Key Players: Matt Howard, Ron Nored, Shelvin Mack, – Caught lighting in a bottle and advanced through the tournament in exciting fashion. Memorable games include a first round buzzer beater, last second shocker against number 1 seeded Pittsburg and an overtime upset against Florida to reach the Final Four.
3. 2008 Davidson Wildcats: (10 seed, Elite Eight)
Key Players: Stephan Curry, Bryant Bar aka “white lobster.”- Became the first mid major to capture the hearts of the nation. This tournament was Stephan Curry’s coming out party.
4. 2005 Fighting Illini: (1 seed, National Championship Game)
Key Players: Dee Brown, Deron Williams, Luther Head,- Showed true determination during an Elite Eight game against Arizona. The Illini rallied from 14 points down and less than four minutes to go to force overtime and eventually win in front of a pro Illini crowd in Chicago.
5. 2005 West Virginia Mountaineers: (7 seed, Elite Eight)
Key Players: Kevin Pittsnogle, Mike Gansy, Joe Herber,- Who doesn’t love a good Pittsnogle? Love this team because they went from no-names to household names, then back to no-names in a matter of weeks.
6. 2003 Maryland Terrapins: (1 seed, National Champions)
Key Players: Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter,- Played excellent together; this team is a perfect example of college stars whose game does not translate to the NBA. Maryland gets bonus points for defeating Indiana in the Championship
7. 2007 Florida Gators: (3 Seed, National Champions)
Key Players: Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Jokim Noah,- One of the most exiting teams to play on the college level. They were a team filled with young stars who overachieved.
8. 2003 Marquette Golden Eagles: (3 seed, Final Four)
Key Players: Dwayne Wade,- Behind the young superstar Wade, the Golden Eagles knocked off number one seed Kentucky to Advance to the Final Four.
9. 2007 George Mason Patriots: (11 seed, Final Four)
Key Players: none,- Knocked off nuber one seeded Uconn to shock the world and advance to the Final Four.
10. 2003 Syracuse Orange: (3 seed, National Champions)
Key Players: Carmelo Anthony,- Anthony was simply too good to play at the college level. As a freshman, he imposed his will throughout the entire tournament.
11. 2003 Texas Longhorns (1 seed , Final Four)
Key Players: T.J. Ford, Royal Ivey- Dashing and cutting through the lane, Ford wowed crowds during the early round of the tournament. He drew comparisons to NBA greats during the tournament
12. 2008 Florida Gators: (1 seed, Final Four)
Key Players: Corey Brewer, Jokim Noah, Al Horford,- This number one overall seed cruised through the entire tournament and won their second straight National Championship. Their football team also won the championship that season.
13. 2006 Gonzaga Bulldogs: (3 seed, Sweet Sixteen)
Key players: Adam Morrison,- Memorably wept on the floor after a shocking comeback by UCLA. Showed the raw emotions of college basketball.
14. 2000 Wisconsin Badgers: (8 seed, Final Four)
Key players: None,- This was a true example of team basketball and the sum being greater than the parts. It was a huge (and underappreciated) feat for this Wisconsin team to make the Final Four.
15. 2004 St. Joe’s Hawks: (1 seed, Elite Eight)
Key Players: Jameer Nelson,- Nelson provided great leadership to this number one seed. Fun Fact: The St. Joe’s hawk mascot must flap his wings throughout the entire game.
16. 2002 Kent State Golden Flashes: (10 seed, Elite Eight)
Key Players: Antonio Gates,- Led by current NFL tight end Antonio Gates, the Golden Flashes shocked three seeded Pittsburg in overtime.
17. 2001 Illinois Fighting Illini: (1 seed, Elite Eight)
Key Players: Brian Cook, Frank Williams,- Frankly this Illini team underachieved. They were extremely fun to watch, but had the talent to win the entire tournament. Fun Fact: Frank Williams was arrested a couple of years ago on weapons charges.
18. 2005 University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Panthers: (12 seed, Sweet Sixteen)
Key Players: Coach Bruce Pearl,- Put the Horizon League on the map.
19. 2006 Bradley Braves: (13 seed, Sweet Sixteen)
Key Players: None,- Defeated number four seed Kansas in the first round.
20. 2009 Missouri Tigers: (12 seed, Elite Eight)
Key Players: JT Tiller,- Became the first 12 seed to advance to an Elite Eight.
– CBTL Fan Ryan Simpson