Best Teams Ever bracket: Men's college basketball edition, Round 1

Welcome to the Best Team Ever bracket series, where the greatest of all time have their most dominant seasons stacked up against each other until we ultimately crown a champion in each sport. The tournament will be decided by fan vote, so be sure to submit yours below! The first round of polling closes at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT on Tuesday, March 31.

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Best Team Ever, college basketball edition (Yahoo Sports illustration)
Best Team Ever, college basketball edition (Yahoo Sports illustration)

1972-73 UCLA vs. 2002-03 Syracuse

No. 1 UCLA (30-0)

  • Bill Walton set a school record with 506 rebounds.

  • Set a new NCAA record of 75 consecutive wins.

Led by Bill Walton, the Bruins won a second straight championship after going 30-0. In the national championship win over Memphis, Walton had 44 points on 21-of-22 shooting. UCLA won 10 national titles in 12 years, but this season was its best.

No. 16 Syracuse (30-5)

  • 2 future NBA players.

  • Carmelo Anthony averaged 21.3 points per game during the NCAA tournament.

Who can forget Syracuse’s run in the tournament led by Carmelo Anthony? The Orange defeated No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the Elite Eight and then took on another No. 1 seed Texas in the Final Four and eventually won the national championship.

2011-12 Kentucky vs. 1982-83 Houston

No. 8 Kentucky (38-2)

  • 16-0 in the SEC.

  • Anthony Davis was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

This was one of the most talented Kentucky teams ever assembled by Coach Cal. The national championship team consisted of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Brandon Knight. It went 38-2 and defeated Kansas in the title game. This gave the Wildcats their eighth national championship.

No. 9 Houston (31-3)

  • 16-0 in the SWC.

  • Hakeem Olajuwon was the No. 1 pick in the draft.

This is the best college basketball team that never won a title, led by Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The Cougars made three straight Final Fours and lost at the buzzer to NC State in 1983 thanks to Lorenzo Charles’ putback dunk. Six players from the team went on to be drafted to the NBA, with three of them being picked in the first round.

1991-92 Duke vs. 2008-09 North Carolina

No. 5 Duke (34-2)

  • Back-to-back national champions.

  • Was ranked No. 1 from start of the season.

This is the second edition of the back-to-back national championship runs that put Mike Krzyzewski closer to GOAT status. Led by Christian Laettner, Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley, this team was special. Duke beat the infamous “Fab Five” of Michigan twice this season and became the first team to win consecutive titles since the 1973 UCLA Bruins team.

No. 12 North Carolina (34-4)

  • 6 NBA players.

  • Won 14 games in a row to start the season

Roy Williams has had some great teams but this team was something else. Led by Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough, UNC won all its NCAA tournament games by 12 points or more. The biggest test this team faced was in the Elite Eight against Blake Griffin and Oklahoma. UNC won that game, 72-60.

1991-92 Michigan vs. 1978-79 Michigan State

No. 4 Michigan (25-9)

  • 182 blocks in 34 games, setting school record.

  • 4 NBA players, including Chris Webber, who was the No. 1 pick

The Fab Five. The dark high socks and all the swag. Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson made up the freshman class that many consider to be the greatest recruiting class of all time. They didn’t win the title thanks to Weber’s timeout fiasco but this team was dominant all season long and were trailblazers for college basketball.

No. 13 Michigan State (26-6)

  • .First championship in school history.

  • 5 NBA players, including Magic Johnson, who was the No. 1 pick.

This Spartans team beat opponents in the NCAA tournament by an average of 20.8 points and gave us the first edition of the Magic Johnson and Larry Bird rivalry. After two years of college, Johnson averaged 17.1 points and 7.9 assists per game.

1981-82 North Carolina vs. 2010-11 UConn

No. 2 North Carolina (32-2)

  • 12-2 in the ACC.

  • 2 Hall of Famers.

This UNC team is arguably the greatest team in North Carolina history with Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins. Jordan hit the game-winning shot in the national championship game to defeat Georgetown, 63-62.

No. 15 UConn (32-9)

  • Big East tournament champions.

  • 4 NBA players, with three of them drafted in the first round.

Kemba Walker led UConn to a national championship in 2011, winning the Big East tournament before going for a run and upsetting Kentucky and Butler in the NCAA tournament. The Huskies' run was one of the most impressive outings in the tournament and UConn was an underdog before they won their national title.

1955-56 San Francisco vs. 2007-08 Kansas

No. 7 San Francisco (29-0)

  • Back-to-back national titles.

  • Hall of Famer Bill Russell.

Led by legendary Bill Russell, this San Francisco team was the first NCAA tournament champion to go undefeated. The Dons were back-to-back national champions and unstoppable in the 1950s.

No. 10 Kansas (37-3)

  • Big 12 champions.

  • Won 22 straight games to start the season.

Mario Chalmers drilled a 3-pointer over Memphis to send the national championship game into overtime. Bill Self said at the time that “it’s probably the biggest shot made in Kansas history.” The Jayhawks went on to win in overtime, 75-68.

1975-76 Indiana vs. 1973-74 NC State

No. 6 Indiana (32-0)

  • 3 national titles.

  • 7 NBA players, including Kent Benson, who was the No. 1 pick in the draft

The Hoosiers were the last team in NCAA history to go undefeated in a season and win the national championship. Bobby Knight’s group was led by Kent Benson, Scott May and Quinn Buckner.

No. 11 NC State (30-1)

  • ACC tournament champions.

  • Tom Burleson was a top-3 draft pick.

Tom Burleson and point guard Monte Towe were the best two players in the nation, and the Wolfpack also had a guy named David Thompson, the national player of the year and one of the best players in ACC history. Those three led NC State to the national championship as the Wolfpack defeated UCLA in double-overtime in a semifinals matchup to end the Bruins’ seven-year run as national champions.

1989-90 UNLV vs. 2005-06 Florida

No. 3 UNLV (35-5)

  • Beat Duke in the title game by 30 points.

  • 4 NBA players, including top picks Greg Anthony and Larry Johnson.

The Runnin’ Rebels took college basketball by storm with Jerry Tarkanian’s fast-paced offense and athleticism on the team. UNLV set the NCAA record for the largest margin of victory and highest score in an NCAA tournament championship game.

No. 14 Florida (33-6)

  • SEC tournament champions.

  • First national championship in school history.

Led by Joakim Noah, Billy Donovan’s team opened the season with a 17-game winning streak and went on to win the national championship. Noah put the team on his shoulders and defeated No. 1 seed Villanova in the Elite Eight and No. 2 seed UCLA in the title game.

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