Tier Drop: UConn moved up among college basketball elite at Arizona’s expenseby Scott Terrell on Jul. 18, 2011, under Sports
It’s been a quiet summer for college sports.
Well, there have been scandals and rumors of scandals but after last year’s tectonic shifts this summer has been downright placid.
Unless someone wants to start whispers of Alabama and Auburn to the Pac-12 we have time out west for more reflection. Arizona‘s place in Pac-10 basketball history has been established. Where do the Wildcats fit in on a national level?
Because of John Wooden the college basketball historical landscape is rather flat. A large portion of the total national championships have been won by a few programs. As a result it’s possible to move up the all-time list relatively quickly.
(College softball is the same way with Arizona’s Mike Candrea and UCLA’s Sharron Backus hoarding all the hardware. As a result Arizona State moved into a very elite group with its second softball championship this year.)
When the Connecticut Huskies cut down the nets this past April they made the leap from the second tier onto the A-list. Here are all schools that have at least three national titles:
No. Carolina 5
We aren’t talking about nothing but pre-TV championships either. Of the above seven programs, five are among the six schools that have multiple championships since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. If you were good in the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘90s and 2000s, you’re really good.
(UCLA and Indiana are the two all-time greats who have only won it all once in the last 27 years. Florida is the only school with two titles in the era of 64+ teams that didn’t have a prior championship.)
The Supreme Seven also include five of the six programs that have hit double-digits in Final Four appearances. The Hoosiers only needed eight Final Fours to win its five championships while UConn leads the way in efficiency with three titles in just four trips to the Final Four.
(The sixth school with at least 10 Final Fours only has one championship to show for it. Can you name it? Think football, vacated vests and pants-for-tats.)
Seeing UConn in this exclusive club is bound to cause some head-shaking among Arizona fans. Jamelle Horne’s shot was this close to getting the Cats past the Huskies and giving the UA a chance to move into the tier that Connecticut just left.
In terms of championships the second level is made up of seven schools that have won it all twice. That’s why Arizona’s exits in 2001, ’03 and ’05 were such missed opportunities. If Lute Olson could have a guided a second team through the tournament he would joined some select company.
It’s interesting to note that of the seven programs to win exactly two basketball championships, four did it in back-to-back years. Add the 1998 Triangle-and-Two game to the list of missed opportunities.
(And now Utah is in the Pac-12 to remind Cat fans of it every year. How nice.)
There is certainly more to a successful program than just national championships but NCAA tournament success is the one currency accepted across conference lines. The Wildcats hope Sean Miller quickly gets another crack at moving the UA into tier 2, where he can set his sights on UConn once again.
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