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! Check out the first round of voting here and the second round of voting here. Final Four polls will close at noon ET on Saturday.
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The men’s college basketball bracket is looking pretty chalky, as it skewed heavily toward the lower seeds in the early rounds. But that means that we’re set up for two showdowns between some of the most heralded blue-bloods in history in the Final Four.
It is no surprise the top-seeded UCLA Bruins have cruised to this point, but will they struggle getting by one of the more memorable Duke teams? On the other side of the bracket, the Runnin’ Rebels eked out a close one in the Elite Eight and now face Michael Jordan’s title-winning UNC team — one of the most choice matchups in any sport.
Best Teams Ever bracket: Men’s college basketball edition, Final Four. (Yahoo Sports illustration)
More1972-73 UCLA vs. 1991-92 Duke
No. 1 UCLA (30-0)
No. 5 Duke (34-2)
UCLA is rolling through this tournament, beating each opponent by a landslide in voting. Hakeem Olajuwon and the 1982-83 Houston Cougars were no match for Bill Walton and the undefeated Bruins. UCLA won by the largest margin of any team in the Elite Eight, pulling in 5,767 votes (79 percent) to Houston’s 1,533 votes (21 percent).
UCLA is up against the 1991-92 Duke Blue Devils in the Final Four. Duke edged out Magic Johnson and the 1978-79 Michigan State Spartans with a final voting tally of 59 percent to 41 percent. This Duke team won back-to-back national championships and stayed No. 1 from the start of the season to the end. Sitting at the No. 5 seed, the Blue Devils lost only two games this season (34-2) and were led by Grant Hill, Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley.
Both team’s rosters are filled with great players but this Final Four matchup is really driven by two of the best college coaches of all time, John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski. Wooden won 10 championships in 12 years and finished with an overall record of 664-162. On the other side we have Coach K, who is the winningest coach in college basketball history with 1,157 wins.
Like this 1991-92 Duke team, UCLA was also the preseason No. 1 team and remained No. 1 the entire season. Bill Walton set a school record with 506 rebounds and scored 44 points in a national championship win over Memphis.
These two teams have faced one another 16 times in school history, with Duke leading the series 10-6.
1981-82 North Carolina vs. 1989-90 UNLV
No. 2 North Carolina (32-2)
12-2 in the ACC
2 Hall of Famers
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
Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins rolled past Bill Russell and the 1955-56 San Francisco team. In the Elite Eight round, North Carolina finished with 62 percent of votes.
UNC will face another great team from the era, the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV. The Rebels’ Elite Eight matchup against the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers was the closest matchup of the round, as the Rebels totaled 4,009 votes (54 percent) to Indiana’s 3,415 votes (46 percent).
This UNLV team beat North Carolina’s rival Duke by 30 points in the national title game and finished with a 35-5 record. Larry Johnson went No. 1 overall in the 1990 NBA draft and three other players went on to the NBA, including Greg Anthony. Hall of Fame coach Jerry Tarkanian finished his career with 706 wins and 198 losses. This NCAA title in 1990 was Tarkanian’s only national championship.
This Tar Heels team is arguably the greatest in UNC history thanks to Michael Jordan and will be hard to beat. During the 81-82 season, Jordan hit the game-winning shot in the national championship game to defeat Georgetown, 63-62. Jordan averaged 17.7 points per game and scored 1,788 points in his three seasons at North Carolina.
UNLV and North Carolina have some interesting history dating back to 1977 when the Tar Heels beat the Rebels in the Final Four, 84-83. Thirty-five years later, UNLV shocked No. 1 UNC, beating them by 10 points in the Las Vegas Classic. North Carolina leads the head-to-head series 4-1.
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