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 second round of polling closes at noon ET on Thursday.
1972-73 UCLA vs. 1982-83 Houston
UCLA moved past No. 16 Syracuse (2002-03) pretty convincingly with the largest margin in the first round (88 percent to 12 percent). The next round will feature Bill Walton vs. Hakeem Olajuwon. No. 9 Houston had a closer battle with No. 8 Kentucky (2011-12), edging them out 60 percent to 40 percent in the voting.
No. 1 UCLA (30-0)
Walton set a school record with 506 rebounds
Set a new NCAA record of 75 consecutive wins
Led by 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. 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 N.C. 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. 1978-79 Michigan State
The Blue Devils advanced after blowing out crosstown rival North Carolina (2008-09) 70 percent to 30 percent in the first round of voting. Duke is facing a strong Michigan State team led by Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Fans voted for the upset over the “Fab Five” Michigan team that entered the field as the No. 4 seed.
No. 5 Duke (34-2)
Back-to-back national champions
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. 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. 1955-56 San Francisco
This is the best matchup of the round, headlined Michael Jordan and Bill Russell. The 1981-82 Tar Heels won in a landslide against the 2010-11 Connecticut team (84 percent to 16 percent). San Francisco moved on with an easy win over the 2007-08 Kansas team, receiving 70 percent of the votes in the first round.
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. 7 San Francisco (29-0)
Back-to-back national titles
Hall of Famer Bill Russell
Led by 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.
1989-90 UNLV vs. 1975-76 Indiana
Both teams advanced pretty easily with UNLV taking down the 2005-06 Florida team and Indiana advancing after beating the 1973-74 NC State team. This round will be a coaching battle between Hall of Famers Jerry Tarkanian and Bobby Knight.
No. 3 UNLV (35-5)
Beat Duke in the title game by 30 points
4 NBA players, including Larry Johnson, who was the No. 1 pick in the draft
The Runnin’ Rebels took college basketball by storm 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. 6 Indiana (30-0)
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.
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