The 2012 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball tournament will begin on March 13, with 68 teams playing for the title. Thirty schools get a bid by winning their conference tournament, and the Ivy league champion (no tournament) joins as well. The other 37 teams are “at-large”, selected by an NCAA committee, with the lowest 8 seeds playing each other in order to enter the tournament bracket.
Through the 73 years of the tournament’s history, which has mostly become known as “March Madness” although it slips a bit into April (finals on April 2), the UCLA Bruins, Kentucky Wildcats, North Carolina Tar Heels, Duke Blue Devils and Indiana Hoosiers (not recently) have distinguished themselves as bit, or more, above the rest of the pack in terms of achievements.
UCLA lead in championships. The Bruins have won 11 national titles, 10 of them with John Wooden – 1964-1965, 1967-1973, 1975. Then came 20 years without a title, until 1995, with Jim Harrick as the head coach. The Bruins also made the final game more than anyone else, losing only once, in 2006, when Ben Howland coached the team and they lost to Florida. They’re 2nd in Final Four appearances with 17, and third in tournament appearances with 42. They made it 15 times in a row between 1967-1981 and had a 14 streak between 1989-2002.
Kentucky are second on the championship list with 7. Four won by Adolph Rupp (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958), and one each by Joe B. Hall (1978), Rick Pitino (1996) and Tubby Smith (1998). They made the final game 3 more times, losing in 1966, 1975 and 1997. They’re fourth all time in final four appearances with 14, but are way ahead of everyone in tournament appearances with 51. Their longest streak is 18 consecutive times between 1992-2008.
Indiana are tied at third with 5 NCAA titles, twice with Branch McCraken in 1940 and 1953, while the more famous three were won with Bobby Knight at the helm in 1976, 1981 and 1987. The made the finals one more time, losing to Maryland in the 2002 title game. Their eight final four appearances are 7th (tied) on the all time list and their 35 tournament appearances are 6th all time.
North Carolina are also 5 time NCAA basketball champions. Frank McGuire led them to their first title in 1957. Dean Smith led them to two titles, one with Michael Jordan and James Worthy in 1982 and the second in 1993, with the famous Chris Webber timeout. Roy Williams, the current head coach has won it twice, in 2005 and 2009. The Tar Heels made the finals four more times – Losing in 1946 to Oklahoma A&M, in 1968 to UCLA, in 1977 to Marquette and in 1981 to Indiana. They made the final four 18 times, more than any other school, and they made the tournament 41 times. Their 27 consecutive appearances between 1975 and 2001 is the longest streak among all NCAA division I schools.
Duke, with 4 titles, follow, all of them won under the same coach, Mike Krzyzewski, in 1991, 1992, 2001 and 2010. Krzyzewski’s 77 tournament wins with the Blue Devils are also an all time high among the coaches. They have made the finals six more times – 1964, 1978, 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1999. They have made the final four 15 times (3rd) and have 34 tournament appearances, 7th all time.