Ranking the College Basketball Teams Based on the 2012-2019 NCAA Tournaments

The 2019 NCAA Tournament has ended with a Virginia Triumph, so it’s time for another rankings rundown of the most successful NCAA Tournament teams based on the results of the last 8 seasons.

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. Wisconsin, 22 points

Frank Kaminsky
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The Badgers have been in every tournament for the past 8 years except for the one in 2018. Their peak came in 2014 and 2015, with back-to-back Final Four appearances, including a championship game loss to Duke in 2015 that many in Madison are still salty about. This year the Badgers lost to Oregon by 18 points in the first round.

9. Louisville, 23 points

Louisville Elite 8
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We’re ignoring the stripped away seasons, wins and title for this ranking, which keeps Louisville in the top 10 (falling one spot from last season). Louisville’s 2013 championship, Final Four in 2013 and Elite 8 in 2015 make up most of their ranking points, not making it to the Sweet 16 since.

8. Michigan, 24 points

Moe Wagner Michigan
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The Wolverines have missed the tourney just once in the last 8 years, and in both of their Final Four appearances, they’ve also gone to the title game, losing on both occasions: 2013 vs Louisville and last year against Villanova. The Wolverines also have an Elite 8 appearance to boast from 2014.

7. Michigan State, 25 points (no titles)

MSU Final Four Bound
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In the last 8 years: 8 tournament appearances, 5 Sweet 16s, 3 Elite 8s, 2 Final Four losses. This year it happened again, losing to Texas Tech in Minneapolis.

6. Villanova, 25 points (titles tiebreaker)

Villanova 2016 National Champions
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The Wildcats missed the tournament in 2012 and in all but two of the last 8 seasons have failed to make the Sweet 16. However, when it does go (w)right for them, it goes splendid, with national titles in 2016 (magical shot) and 2018 (plain dominance). The only team in the last 8 seasons with two national titles.

5. Gonzaga, 26 points

Gonzaga going to elite 8
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The Bulldogs ended years of WCC dominance followed by early letdowns in the NCAA Tourney with their Elite 8 appearance in 2015, followed by a Sweet 16, losing in the title game to UNC, another Sweet 16 and another Elite 8 finish this season, losing to eventual finalists Texas Tech.

4. Duke, 27 points

Duke Wisconsin 2015
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Duke has just one Final Four appearance in the last 8 seasons which is rather low considering the amount of talent Coach K has had at his disposal. Still, that one Final Four ended with the school’s 5th national championship. Duke lost in the Elite 8 these last two seasons; Michigan State beat them this year.

3. Kansas, 28 points

Kansas Beats Duke
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The Jayhawks haven’t won the nattie in the past 8 years, so how are they 3rd? They make the tournament each year, they had a title game (lost to Kentucky), another Final Four (last season) and they don’t get knocked out in the first round, going Sweet 16 or further in 5 of the last 8 seasons.

2. North Carolina, 30 points

North Carolina Tar Heels 2017 National Champions
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Almost half of UNC’s points in this 8-year stretch come from their back-to-back title game appearances in 2016 (the one that ended in heartbreak) and 2017 (the one that added trophy #6 to the cabinet in Chapel Hill). This year, as a #1 seed, the run ended in the Sweet 16 at the hands of Final Four bound Auburn.

1. Kentucky, 32 points

De'aaron Fox vs UCLA
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Kentucky missed the tournament in 2013 and got knocked out in the round of 32 in 2016. The rest has been pretty impressive, especially in 2012 (national title), 2014 (lost in title game to UConn) and 2015 (going undefeated until the Final Four loss to Wisconsin). Elite 8-Sweet 16-Elite 8 in the last 3 years hasn’t hurt either.

Extra Notes:

  • Connecticut is the only team with a national championship in the 2012-2019 stretch (2014) not in the top 10. Their rank? 25th, with only two more NCAA Tournament appearances during this stretch.
  • The national champions, Virginia, are 11th overall (tied with Florida, win a tiebreaker). Their best finish except for this year is a singular Elite 8 in 2016.
  • No Pac-12 teams in the top 10. Best ranked team from out West? Oregon (14th overall), with one Final Four appearance in 2017, an Elite 8 in 2016 and two more Sweet 16 over the last 8 seasons.

Previous Rankings

2010-2017 | 2011-2018