Following the 2018 NCAA Tournament won by Villanova, it’s time to rank the best teams over the last 8 years based on their NCAA Tournament performances.
Why 8 years? With players supposedly leaving after four, it means a couple of 4-year draft cycles. We figure it’s a good indication of the best and most consistent teams in CBB, not letting a single good year or a single bad year have too much consequence. 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.
10. Florida, 23 points
Florida, unlike most teams on this list, changed their head coach during this 8-year period, as Billy Donovan left to the NBA and he was replaced by Mike White. White missed the tournament in his first season, but made it in the last two, including an Elite Eight appearance last season. Florida’s best during this 8-year stretch was the Final Four in 2014, where they lost to eventual champions UConn. The Gators missed the tournament twice in this timeframe.
9. Michigan, 23 points
Michigan win the tiebreaker with Florida by reaching the title game twice in the last 8 years. First in 2013, losing to Louisville 82-76, and this year, getting dropped by Villanova 79-62. There was also one Elite Eight (2014) and one Sweet Sixteen (last year). The Wolverines missed the tournament once in this stretch.
8. Louisville, 24 points
The Cardinals haven’t done much in the last three years, which includes twice missing the tournament, but a Final Four run in 2012 (losing to Kentucky), winning the national championship in 2013 (beating Michigan in the final) and an Elite Eight appearance in 2014 helped them into the top 10. Problem for the Cardinals is that according to the NCAA, 2012-2015 never happened.
7. Gonzaga, 24 points
The Bulldogs have been making the tournament every year since 1999, completely dominating the WCC. However, they’ve only really been able to make a deep tournament run over the last four years, with their first Elite Eight in the new millennium coming in 2015, and making it all the way to the championship game last season, losing to North Carolina.
6. Villanova, 24 points
On the hand, Villanova missed the tournament in 2012 and suffered first round exits in 2011 and 2013, as well as bowing out in the round of 32 last season and in 2015. But two national championships in 3 years will help cover up the disappointments: One miraculous shot to beat the buzzer in ’16 against the Tar Heels and one stunning performance by one Donte DiVincenzo in ’18.
5. Wisconsin, 26 points
The Badgers missed the tournament for the first time since 1998 this season, but from 2011 through 2017 they made the Sweet Sixteen each year except for one. In 2014 they reached the Final Four (losing to Kentucky), and a year later to the championship game (losing to Duke).
4. Duke, 26 points
The Blue Devils had two embarrassing first round exits in the last 8 seasons: In 2012 against Lehigh and in 2014 against Mercer. On the other hand, they have their impressive national championship from 2015 (beating Wisconsin in the final) and two more Elite Eight appearances: This season and in 2013. They haven’t missed the tournament since 1995.
3. Kansas, 30 points
The Jayhawks’ two best tourney runs in the last 8 seasons were in 2012, when they reached the championship game only to lose to Calipari’s finest one-and-done Kentucky team, and this season, when Bill Self returned to the Final Four only to lose against Villanova. Besides all the Big 12 championships that keep coming in, Kansas made the Elite Eight in 2011, 2016 and 2017.
2. North Carolina, 31 points
After two Elite Eights (2011-2012), two round of 32 losses (2013-2014) and a Sweet Sixteen loss (2015) came two memorable tournament runs. In 2016 North Carolina made their first Final Four and title game since 2009 only to lose at the buzzer against Villanova, followed by a redemption tour in 2017, culminating in a title-game win over Gonzaga.
1. Kentucky, 33 points
Despite not winning the title since 2012, Kentucky are on top for the second straight season in our rankings, thanks to a Final Four in 2011, 2014 (lost in the championship game to UConn) and 2015, when an undefeated team got beat by Wisconsin. There’s also an Elite Eight appearance last season, while they also have an “empty” year, missing the tournament completely in 2013, finding it too difficult to retool after losing pretty much everyone from their 2012 championship team.