Everyone loves to debate which college basketball schools should be considered the most "successful". But how do you define success? Is the NCAA Tournament the sole measuring stick available to determine bragging rights? Do conference titles matter? Should conference tournament titles count? Then, of course, there's the time period you're measuring. Success is measured by accomplishment within a given time frame.
As you can see, there are many ways to go about creating a list like this. We decided to start a project, using just NCAA Tournament data, with the goal of determining the most successful college basketball programs since 2000. In honor of the recent completion of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, we decided to score each school based on how most bracket pools are tabulated:
Round of 64 loss = 0 points
Round of 32 loss = 1 point
Sweet 16 loss = 2 points
Elite Eight loss = 4 points
Final Four loss = 8 points
Championship Game loss = 12 points
National Champions = 16 points
So theoretically, if you are the type of person who picks the same team to win the NCAA Tournament every year, you might want to take a look at No. 1 on this list - because that team has (since 2000) statistically performed better than any other over time.
Without further ado, here are the schools ranked 25-11. The top 10 start on the next slide.
24. Oklahoma State (tie) - 16 Points
24. Pittsburgh (tie) - 16 Points
24. Xavier (tie) - 16 Points
24. Gonzaga (tie) - 16 Points
22. Villanova (tie) - 17 Points
22.West Virginia (tie) - 17 Points
21. Marquette - 18 Points
19. Indiana (tie) - 19 Points
19. Oklahoma (tie) - 19 Points
16. Texas (tie) - 24 Points
16. Wisconsin (tie) - 24 Points
16. Memphis (tie) - 24 Points
15. Illinois - 25 Points
12. Maryland (tie) - 31 Points
12. Butler (tie) - 31 Points
12. Ohio State (tie) - 31 Points
11. Arizona - 32 Points
Next: >>Schools Ranked 10-6
10. UCLA - 36 Points
Despite the Bruins' recent struggles (which led to the firing of Ben Howland), the mid-2000s saw great success. UCLA reached three straight Final Fours, even reaching the title game once (losing to Florida). A few Sweet 16 appearances early in the 21st century round out the majority of the scoring for the Bruins, as the school has only produced two NCAA Tournament victories since its Final Four streak ended. UCLA is the only team in the top ten without a National Championship.
9. Syracuse - 38 Points
Despite a four-year period sans scoring (2005-2008), Syracuse finds itself checking in at No. 9. The 2003 National Championship definitely helped the Orange's cause, as did the 2013 Final Four run. The Cuse has reached the Sweet 16 in seven of the 14 tournaments, but has only reached the Final Four on those two occurences. Four of those seven Sweet 16 appearances have come in the last five years, however.
8. Louisville - 42 Points
Louisville has registered more than half of its points (24) in the last two seasons - that's what a Final Four run followed up by a National Championship will do. The Cardinals have produced a total of three Final Four appearances, the other coming back in 2005. The school has reached the Elite Eight in five of the past nine years.
7. Kentucky - 44 Points
Kentucky, like Syracuse, had a down period in the mid-2000s that cost it from being higher on the list. The school has produced two Final Four appearances, and similar to Louisville, they were in back-to-back seasons (2011 & 2012). Also, like the Cardinals, the Wildcats won the title in their second trip, knocking off Kansas in the title game. UK was a consistently mediocre tournament participant until Coach Cal arrived.
6. Connecticut - 52 Points
Yes, UConn gets a little screwed here considering it won the 1999 NCAA title, but hey, rules are rules. Still, the Huskies have won the tournament twice since, in both 2004 and 2011. UConn is sixth on the list despite not registering any NCAA victories in six of the 14 seasons this century. The school reached the Final Four on three occasions; the two mentioned above as well as 2009, when it lost to Michigan State in the national semifinal.
Next: >> Schools Ranked 5-1
4. Florida (tie) - 59 Points
We all remember the dominance of both the 2006 and 2007 teams that won their respective NCAA titles, but it's also worth noting that the Gators reached the championship game in 2000, falling to Michigan State. Florida has also made three straight Elite Eight appearances, meaning that the Gators have won at least three games in the NCAA Tournament in six out of the past 14 years. Five seasons without an NCAA win cost Florida a chance at checking in even higher.
4. Duke (tie) - 59 Points
Like Florida, Duke has won two national championships in the 21st century - in 2001 and 2010. The Blue Devils have surprisingly only reached the Final Four one other year, 2004, when they were ousted by UConn in one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA Tournament history. Duke has reached the Sweet 16 in 11 seasons, but has advanced just four times to the Elite Eight. The Blue Devils are consistent, however, winning at least one NCAA game in 12 of the 14 years.
3. Michigan State - 63 Points
Tom Izzo is always mentioned as a great "March coach", and the statistics completely back it up. Michigan State has reached the Final Four five times this century, winning it all in 2000 and finishing as the runner-up in 2009. Nine Sweet 16 trips in 14 years is another amazing accomplishment, as is the fact that the Spartans have never gone longer than five years in between Final Four appearances. For that theory to hold true, 2014 will need to be a big year in East Lansing.
2. North Carolina - 64 Points
Roy Williams returned the Tar Heels as an elite college basketball program in 2004 after leaving Kansas. He's since won two national championships (2005 & 2009) at the school, along with notching another Final Four appearance (2008) and three more Elite Eight showings. Throw in the miracle Final Four run in 2000 under Bill Guthridge and you've got yourself a scoring machine (for our purposes, at least). But the real irony? It's the school Williams left that checks in at No. 1.
1. Kansas - 68 Points
I'll admit, I was even surprised. UNC, Duke, Florida and UConn have all won more championships this century than Kansas, so how could the Jayhawks come out on top? Consistency. Kansas has reached four Final Fours, winning the 2008 national title and finishing as the runner up in both 2003 and 2012. The Jayhawks also have three more Elite Eight appearances, making it seven years in which they've won at least three games. Like Duke, there are only two years (2005 & 2006) in which they didn't win an NCAA Tournament game. When all the numbers were tallied, it was clear that Kansas is the team that has performed (statistically) the best in NCAA games since 2000. Rock Chalk.