Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Is UCLA still an elite basketball program? A look at the last 25 years

The question ESPN posed at halftime of our struggle vs UNLV last night prompted me to explore how we stack up with the other significant basketball programs in the country.  Obviously, historically we are dominant with our 11 championships.  However, what about recently?  We'll look at the last 25 years (a round number I picked so that I can include our one championship in that time) and we'll consider how many of the following categories each school has won from 1991-2015: 1) National championships, 2) Final Four appearances, 3) NCAA Tournament Appearances, 4) regular season conference championships (not conf tourney championships) and 5) 1st team All-Americans.  I included all schools that had won a championship in the last 25 years as well as other historically important programs and ranked the top 10 in order of "elite-ness".

Based on these findings, UCLA is certainly a top 10 school, but we're nowhere close to the top 5.  We needed to make the Final Four another 3-4 times and have won it all at least 2 more times to make a claim to equality with Duke, UNC or UK.



25 Year Elite-ness Rankings

1) Duke
National championships: 5 (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015)
Final Fours: 8
Tournament Appearances: 24
Conference Championships: 11
1st Team All-Americans: 14

2) North Carolina
National championships: 3 (1993, 2005, 2009)
Final Fours: 9
Tournament Appearances: 22
Conference Championships: 9
1st Team All-Americans: 6

3) Kentucky
National championships: 3 (1996, 1998, 2012)
Final Fours: 8
Tournament Appearances: 22
Conference Championships: 10
1st Team All-Americans: 6

4) Connecticut
National championships: 4 (1999, 2004, 2011, 2014)
Final Fours: 5
Tournament Appearances: 18
Conference Championships: 9
1st Team All-Americans: 6

5) Kansas
National championships: 1 (2008)
Final Fours: 6
Tournament Appearances: 25
Conference Championships: 20
1st Team All-Americans: 9

6) Michigan State
National championships: 1 (2000)
Final Fours: 7
Tournament Appearances: 22
Conference Championships: 7
1st Team All-Americans: 3

7) Florida
National championships: 2 (2006, 2007)
Final Fours: 5
Tournament Appearances: 16
Conference Championships: 6
1st Team All-Americans: 0

8) Arizona
National championships: 1 (1997)
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 23
Conference Championships: 10
1st Team All-Americans: 5

9) UCLA
National Championships: 1 (1995)
Final Fours: 4
Tournament Appearances: 21
Conference Championships: 8
1st Team All-Americans: 3

10) Louisville (Tied)
National championships: 1 (2013)
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 20
Conference Championships: 6
1st Team All-Americans: 2

10) Syracuse (Tied)
National championships: 1 (2003)
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 19
Conference Championships: 5
1st Team All-Americans: 4


Comments:

- Duke has clearly been the best in college basketball in the last 25 years, with an umatched 5 titles and 14 All-Americans along the way.   The only other school with more than 6 All-Americans was Kansas, with 9.

- UNC and UK have clearly separated themselves as the 2nd tier and though UConn has won 1 more title than them, the Huskies missed the NCAA tournament 7 of the 25 times.  They also only made the Final Four 5 times, even though they've won 4.

-  Kansas rounds out the top 5 because of its dominance in its conference - 20 titles dwarfs runner-up Duke's 11.  Also, they are the only team here to never miss the NCAA tourney in the last 25 years.  Unlike the Huskies, they've underwhelmed with only 1 title in 6 visits to the Final Four.

- I have Mich St edging out Florida for #6 even with 1 less national title, because they've only missed the NCAAs 3 times, while UF missed it 9 times.  Izzo has also brought his team to the Final Four an amazing 7 times.

- Arizona's conference titles helps it edge out UCLA, Louisville and Syracuse for the 8th spot.


OTHERS:

Ohio State
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 15
Conference Championships: 9
1st Team All-Americans: 6

Maryland
National championships: 1 (2002)
Final Fours: 2
Tournament Appearances: 15
Conference Championships: 3
1st Team All-Americans: 2

Arkansas
National championships: 1 (1994)
Final Fours: 2
Tournament Appearances: 14
Conference Championships: 3
1st Team All-Americans: 0

Wisconsin
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 19
Conference Championships: 4
1st Team All-Americans: 2

Indiana
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 2
Tournament Appearances: 19
Conference Championships: 4
1st Team All-Americans: 3

Georgetown
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 1
Tournament Appearances: 15
Conference Championships: 6
1st Team All-Americans: 3

Michigan
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 11
Conference Championships: 2
1st Team All-Americans: 3