Sports Reference Blog

Best Teams in the History of Each Sweet 16 School

Posted by Neil on March 28, 2013

Since we have scanned stat sheets from thousands of historical NCAA team seasons going back to the 1940s, I thought it would be cool to post links to the best team in history for each school still active in the Sweet 16:

  • Indiana - Best Team: The undefeated 1975-76 Hoosiers, who went 32-0 and won the NCAA title behind Scott May's 23.5 PPG.
  • Syracuse - Best Team: It's hard to go against Carmelo Anthony's 2002-03 Orangemen here.
  • Miami-FL - Best Team: At a school known far more for its football than hoops, this year's Hurricanes are probably their best team ever.
  • Marquette - Best Team: The Golden Eagles have had some great teams over the years, but the best remains the 1976-77 version that won the national championship under coach Al McGuire.
  • Louisville - Best Team: Another school with multiple national champs to choose from, Louisville's best squad was probably the dominant 1985-86 Cardinals.
  • Oregon - Best Team: Setting aside the 1939 national champion Ducks, Oregon's top team belongs to either this year's model or the 2006-07 version that went all the way to a Regional Final before losing.
  • Duke - Best Team: Lots to pick from here, the best of which comes down to either 1991-92 or 2000-01. '92 lost only twice, but '01 had a dominant +32.2 SRS, which is why they're my choice.
  • Michigan St. - Best Team: The Jud Heathcote/Magic Johnson 1979 team was great, but I'm going with Tom Izzo & Mateen Cleaves in 1999-2000 as Sparty's best-ever showing.
  • Kansas - Best Team: In the storied history of KU basketball, the best team ever may very well have come in 2007-08, when the Jayhawks lost only 3 times en route to a national crown.
  • Michigan - Best Team: The Wolverines have enjoyed a renaissance season this year, but the 2013 version still probably ranks behind the 1988-89 national champs, led by Glen Rice.
  • Florida - Best Team: With the Gators, take your pick between the back-to-back champs of 2006 and 2007. My pick is '07, whose stars were a year older, with a better record and superior SRS.
  • Fla. Gulf Coast - Best Team: With only 3 seasons as a "major" school in our database, it's impossible to pick any team for the Eagles other than the 2013 Regional Semifinalists (or beyond?).
  • Ohio St. - Best Team: With a handful of near-misses in recent years, the best Buckeyes remain the 1960 national champs, still OSU's only titleists in basketball.
  • Arizona - Best Team: It's no surprise that the best team in Arizona history was the 1996-97 NCAA champion Wildcats, led by Lute Olsen, Miles Simon, and Mike Bibby.
  • Wichita St. - Best Team: Talk about Shockers! If this year's team isn't their best, then it's probably the 1980-81 version (led by Cliff Levingston & Antoine Carr) that went to a Regional Final.
  • La Salle - Best Team: In Explorers history, it's hard to go against the 1953-54 team starring Tom Gola.

Who would win in a tournament of these classic teams? Tell us in the comments!

6 Responses to “Best Teams in the History of Each Sweet 16 School”

  1. Stuart Says:

    75-76 Hoosiers over 00-01 Blue Devils in finals. Ohio State and either Michigan State or Louisville in Final 4.

  2. JeremyDe Says:

    Wondering if this is the most colleges in the Sweet 16 that have won a national title. I think it's 13 of 16. Obviously Florida Gulf Coast hasn't, Miami and Wichita State haven't. Think everyone else has at some point.

  3. Stuart Says:

    I think there were also 3 last year, Baylor, Xavier, and Ohio.

  4. Roy Says:

    Louisville - Best Team: Another school with multiple national champs to choose from, Louisville's best squad was probably the dominant 1979-80 Cardinals was 33-3.1985-86 Cardinals was 32-7 I would take the 1980 Card Doctors of Dunk with Darrell "Dr. Dunkenstein" Griffith over the 86 team with "Never Nervous Pervis" Ellison

  5. Alan R. Says:

    I don't agree that Arizona's best team was their 1997 team. It's easy to just pick a championship team as the best. They got fortunate with some of the draw they had and struggled early in the season. Their best team was either 1998 or the 2001 team that lost to Duke in the National Championship game. The 2003 team was also exceptionally deep.

  6. Mo Says:

    #1 Indiana vs #16 FGCU (winner Indiana easily)
    # 9 Arizona vs. # 8 Michigan (winner Michigan close)
    #4 Louisville vs. #13 Miami ('Ville comfortably)
    #5 Florida vs # 12 LaSalle (Fla easily)

    #2 Duke vs. #15 WSU (Duke comfortably)
    #7 Syracuse vs. #10 Ohio State (Cuse comfortably)
    #3 Kansas vs. #14 Oregon (KU easily)
    #6 Mich State vs # 11 Marquette (Marquette in an mild upset)

    Round 2 Indiana (comfortably), Florida (close - mild upset), Duke (close) and Kansas (close)
    Semis - IU and Duke (both close)
    Championsip - IU (close)