With North Carolina winning the 2017 NCAA Tournament and claiming their 6th national championship, it’s a good opportunity to rank the best teams over the last 8 years based on their NCAA Tournament achievements.
Why 8 years? With players supposedly leaving after four years, it means a couple of four-year draft cycles. We figure it’s a good enough indication of the best and most consistent teams in college basketball, not letting a single good year or a single bad year. The rankings are based on our points system: 1 points for losing in the round of 64, 2 points for losing in the round of 32, 3 points for losing in the Sweet 16, 4 points for losing in the Elite 8, 5 points for losing in the Final Four, 6 points for losing in the final, 8 points for winning the championship.
11. Syracuse, 21 points
Despite missing 2 of the last 3 tournaments, Syracuse make our list thanks to never getting knocked out in the first round and two Final Four appearances: They lost to North Carolina in 2016 and Michigan in 2013.
10. Butler, 21 points
The Bulldogs missed the tournament in 2012 and 2014, but thanks to making the title game two years in a row to kick off the decade, they also kick off the top 10. They lost to Duke in 2010 and to Connecticut in 2011.
9. Florida, 22 points
While Florida have missed the tournament twice, they’ve been stopped in the Elite Eight four times since 2010, also making the Final Four in 2014, losing to eventual champions Connecticut in the semifinal.
8. Gonzaga, 23 points
The Bulldogs haven’t missed a tournament in the 2010-2017 stretch, but their real boost in the rankings has come in the last 3 years: Elite Eight in 2015, Sweet Sixteen in 2016 and making the championship game in 2017, which was also their first trip to the Final Four.
7. Michigan State, 24 points
While the Spartans have been knocked out in the first round twice over the last 8 years, they’ve also made the Final Four twice. First in 2010, losing to Butler by 2 points in the semifinal; and then again in 2015, getting crushed by Duke in the semifinal again.
6. Louisville, 24 points
Louisville’s best stretch came from 2012 through 2015, which included a Sweet 16 in 2014 and Elite Eight in 2015, preceded by losing to Kentucky in the Final Four in 2012 and winning the national championship in 2013, beating Michigan for the program’s 3rd national title.
5. Wisconsin, 26 points
The Badgers best over the last 8 years came in 2014 and 2015. In ’14 they made the Final Four and lost to Kentucky by one point. A year later, the Badgers beat Kentucky in the semifinal, becoming the first team to beat the Wildcats that season. Wisconsin went on to the championship game, losing to Duke.
4. Kansas, 27 points
Despite all of their Big 12 success, Kansas are slight underachievers when it comes to the NCAA tournament, making the Final Four just once, in 2012, losing to Kentucky in the title game. They haven’t missed a tournament, and they’ve made it to the Elite Eight three more times, including in both 2016 and 2017.
3. North Carolina, 29 points
The Tar Heels have been to the last 7 NCAA Tournaments, making the Final Four in both 2016 and 2017. Last year it ended in heartbreak, as Villanova beat the Tar Heels in the final with a soul crushing three pointer. In 2017, North Carolina won their 6th national championship and third under Roy Williams, beating Gonzaga in the final.
2. Duke, 30 points
The Blue Devils have made the NCAA Tournament in all of the last 8 seasons. While they’ve been knocked out twice in the first round (2012 & 2014), they’ve also made two Final Fours, winning the national championship on both occasions, beating Butler in 2010 and Wisconsin in 2015.
1. Kentucky 34 points
While Kentucky haven’t won the title twice over the last 8 years like Duke or UConn (who didn’t even make our list), they’ve been to the Final Four 4 times. They’ve lost in the semifinal twice and made the final twice. In 2012, beating Kansas, it ended with their 8th national championship. In 2014, they lost to Connecticut in the final.