On Monday night UConn and coach Jim Calhoun secured their third NCAA title since 1999. That's more than anybody during the last 13 years, although three teams have won twice in the new century - Duke (2001 and 2010), UNC (2005 and 2009), and Florida (2006 and 2007). Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has four championships since 1991.
Butler became the first team to lose consecutive NCAA championship games since the fall of those famed paragons, the Michigan Wolverines of 1992 and 1993. The Fab Five lost to Duke and UNC, respectively.
One of the more fascinating utterances of the night as Connecticut strangled Butler in the 2011 final was this one from Greg Anthony, a member of the UNLV squad that throttled the Blue Devils by 30 in the 1990 title game, still the largest margin of victory ever in the contest:
"We're not going to sugarcoat it - it was by far the worst performance I've ever seen in a national champion(ship)," Anthony said of Butler, a salve of sorts for Duke's 22-year-old wound. "Unfortunately, we all had to witness it. But, at the end of the day, when they look back on this years from now, no one's going to put an asterisk by the fact that the UConn Huskies are the nationals champions."
Well, maybe not. There's no asterisk next to UNLV's title, either, although under Jerry Tarkanian the program was caught cheating. Similarly, UConn's been caught cheating, and recently.
There are plenty of asterisks in the Final Four record book for appearances vacated due to rules violations, including the pair by John Calipari, who had trips voided with UMass in 1996 and Memphis in 2008. So far it looks like his visit this year with Kentucky, a serial cheater even without him, will stand up to scrutiny.
What a year! The BCS football crown went to Auburn three months ago, a program shadowed by questionable practices, as evidenced by Cam Newton's troubles and testimony on a recent HBO show where four former Tigers alleged receiving payments. Now another unsavory program won the men's basketball title, adding to the pungent odor in big-time college sports.
We won't assert the ACC is without blemish. Still, North Carolina and Duke stand up as well as any programs to ethical scrutiny, and remain the top dogs in modern competition when it comes to Final Four appearances and NCAA titles.
The pair still have been to more Final Fours since 1990, and combined to win more championships since 1980 or 1990 or 2000, than any other conference except the ACC. (Thanks to the presence of the 15-501 neighbors).
By itself UNC is tied with the Big East and Big 12 -- each has nine Final Four appearances since 1990. Duke is one step behind, tied at eight with the Pac-10.
As for the recent feverish talk of party crashers and the rise of mid-majors, it's interesting to note that the last five NCAA titles were won by schools that had previous championships to their credit - Florida in 2007, Kansas in 2008, UNC in 2009, Duke in 2010, and now UConn. And Butler was merely the latest upstart that failed to break the big boys' stranglehold on the NCAA title; a breakthrough was last accomplished when Nevada-Las Vegas won it all in 1990.
TOP DOGS, AND NOT JUST HUSKIES
Recent National Championships
|Entity||Since 1990||Since 1980|
|Title By School Since 1980:|
|Duke||4||1991, 1992, 2001, 2010|
|UNC||4||1982, 1993, 2005, 2009|
|UConn||3||1999, 2004, 2011|
Final Four Appearances By Schools And Power Leagues Since 1990
(Bold Indicates 2011 Entrant, Underline Indicates Champion)
|No.||League/ School||Members,Years Appeared|
|21||ACC||North Carolina (9), Duke (8), Georgia Tech (2), Maryland (2)|
|17||Duke/UNC||1990, 1991 (2), 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010|
|15||Big 10||Michigan State (6), Indiana (2), Michigan (2), Ohio State (2), Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin|
|13||SEC||Kentucky (5), Florida (4), Arkansas (2), LSU, Mississippi State|
|9||UNC||1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2009|
|9||Big East||Connecticut (4), Syracuse (2), Georgetown, Villanova, West Virginia|
|9||Big 12||Kansas (5), Oklahoma State (2), Oklahoma, Texas|
|8||Duke||1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2010|
|8||Pac-10||UCLA (4), Arizona (3), Stanford|
|5||Kentucky||1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2011|
|5||Kansas||1991, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2008|
|4||Connecticut||1999, 2004, 2009, 2011|
|4||Florida||1994, 2000, 2006, 2007|
|4||Michigan St.||1999, 2000, 2001, 2005|
|4||UCLA||1995, 2006, 2007, 2008|
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