With the first National Champion of the 2020’s being crowned, I thought it was time to rank the NCAA Tournament National Champions from the last decade. We had two teams that won twice in the decade (Duke, Villanova). We also had a first time ever winner in Virginia. What a decade the 2010s was for college basketball. With that being said here is my rankings of the NCAA Tournament Champions from the worst to the best of the 2010s.
10.) Virginia (2019)
The University of Virginia won their first ever National Title in 2019. It was a good story as they were a number one seed the year before, and they got bounced to 16 seed UMBC. The first time in history that a one seed is ever lost to a 16 seed. The following season they had probably one of the easiest routes to a National Championship that I think I have ever seen.
They started off in the South Region and beat 16 seed Gardner Webb, 9 seed Oklahoma, 12 seed Oregon, and 3 seed Purdue. Now their Elite Eight Matchup they were lucky to get out of that one, as Diakite hit a shot at the buzzer to send it to overtime. Virginia had no reason being in that game at all. Then in the Final Four they played Auburn who was a five seed and their was controversy at the end of that game as well. Finally they took on Texas Tech in the National Title game which was an overtime game as well.
That team was good, but they weren’t as great as everybody thought they were. Starting five of Mamadi Diakite, Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter, and Kihei Clark. Can’t forget about Braxton Key coming off the bench for them. It wasn’t Virginia’s most talented team that we saw in the 2010s. Plus with their easy run to the Final Four, they are the worst champion from the 2010s.
9.) UCONN (2014)
Kevin Ollie had this team ready to go in 2014. This team had two under sized guards in Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. They were a seven seed and are the only seven seed to every win a National Championship. UConn’s run started with 10 seed St. Joseph’s, a win over 2 seed Villanova, 3 seed Iowa State, and 4 seed Michigan State. Then in the Final Four they beat number one seed Florida and won the National Championship game over 8 seed Kentucky.
That Kentucky team had the Harrison Twins, James Young, Julius Randle, and Dakari Johnson. UCONN had two guys that got drafted in Shabazz Napier who was a first round pick and DeAndre Daniels who was a second rounder. This UCONN team wasn’t greatly talented, but they were good enough to cut down the nets.
8.) Duke (2010)
The Duke Blue Devils were a number one seed in 2010. They started with a win over 16 seed Arkansas Pine Bluff, then 8 seed California, 4 seed Purdue, and 3 seed Baylor. In the Final Four they demolished West Virginia, and luckily beat Butler in one of the instant classics that the NCAA Tournament has ever seen. Duke’s starting five was Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, Lance Thomas, and Brian Zoubek.
Nolan Smith was a first round pick, and Kyle Singler was a second round pick. None of that starting five had any success at the next level. That Duke team was weirdly good, and if Gordon Hayward hit that three pointer at the buzzer we would not even be talking about Duke as a National Champion in 2010.
7.) Louisville (2013)
The Louisville Cardinals won the National Championship in 2013 as a one seed. They beat 16 seed NC A&T, 8 seed Colorado State, 12 seed Oregon, and 2 seed Duke in the Midwest Region. Then in the Final Four they beat 9 seed Wichita State and they beat 4 seed Michigan in the National Championship game.
Their starting five was Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Wayne Blackshear, Chase Behanan, and Gorgui Dieng. They also had Luke Hancock that was probably one of the hottest players in the world in the 2013 tournament. Those six didn’t have success at the next level. They were a good group, but there were a lot better teams than them that won in the 2010s.
6.) Villanova (2016)
Villanova was a two seed in the South Region in 2016. They started off with a win over 15 seed UNC Asheville, then 7 seed Iowa, 3 seed Miami, and 1 seed Kansas. Then in the Final Four they destroyed 2 seed Oklahoma, and then Kris Jenkins hit the buzzer beater in the National Championship game against North Carolina. As a North Carolina fan it was one of those moments where my heart sunk and I still have nightmares about that shot.
Their starting five is Jalen Brunson, Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Daniel Ochefu. Josh Hart was a first round pick and is seeing minutes with the Pelicans. Jalen Brunson is getting minutes with Dallas. Kris Jenkins did not go anywhere significant after hitting that jumper to win the National Championship. I still think North Carolina should have won that game, but Villanova did and are the 6th best NCAA Tournament Champions of the past decade.
5.) North Carolina (2017)
North Carolina was a one seed in the South Region in 2017. This team was on a mission after their buzzer beater loss to Villanova in the National Title game the year before. They started off with a win over 16 seed Texas Southern, then 8 seed Arkansas, 4 seed Butler, and 2 seed Kentucky. That Kentucky game was when Malik Monk hit the three to tie the game, and then UNC came down and Luke Maye hit the shot that clinched the trip to the Final Four.
In the Final Four they squeaked out a victory over 3 seed Oregon, and then beat one seed Gonzaga in the National Title game. This North Carolina team had Justin Jackson, Joel Berry II, Theo Pinson, Isaiah Hicks, and Kennedy Meeks as their starting five. This team didn’t have success at the next level, but this was a top five team of the decade that won the title.
4.) Villanova (2018)
Villanova was a one seed in the East Region in 2018. They started with a win over 16 seed Radford, 9 seed Alabama, 5 seed West Virginia, and 3 seed Texas Tech. Then in the Final Four they played 1 seed Kansas and won, then they demolished 3 seed Michigan to win their second Championship in three years. Their starting five was Phil Booth, Jalen Brunson, Eric Paschall, Mikal Bridges, and Omari Spellman. Bridges and Spellman were first round picks, Brunson and Paschall were second round picks.
That team also had first round pick and the 2018 Tournaments Most Outstanding Player Donte DiVincenzo coming off the bench for them as well. This Villanova team was much better than the one in 2016 in my opinion. Not because they didn’t beat North Carolina to win the National Championship. They had the better team, and dominated tougher opponents on their way to winning the National Title.
3.) UCONN (2011)
UConn was a three seed in the West Region. They beat 14 Bucknell, 6 Cincinnati, 2 San Diego State, and 5 Arizona on the way to the Final Four. During the Final Four they beat 4 Kentucky, and then they beat 8 Butler in the National Championship. That UConn’s starting five was Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Roscoe Smith, Tyler Olander, and Alex Oriakhi.
Kemba and Jeremy Lamb are NBA caliber players. The span of games that Kemba Walker had in March was probably one of the best runs I have ever seen. This team has a whole wasn’t the greatest, but they had one of the best runs I have ever seen.
2.) Duke (2015)
Duke was a one seed in the South Region in 2015. In the South they beat 16 Robert Morris, 8 San Diego State, 5 Utah, and 2 Gonzaga on the route to the Final Four. In the Final Four they beat 7 Michigan State and 1 Wisconsin in the National Championship game. Wisconsin beating Kentucky evaded us from seeing Kentucky and Duke in the National Championship game.
Duke’s starting five was Tyus Jones, Quinn Cook, Matt Jones, Justise Winslow, and Jahlil Okafor. Again as a North Carolina fan this pains me to say. This Duke team was one of the best teams in the 2010s. Winslow has been injury prone so we haven’t seen his full potential yet. Jahlil Okafor was a top three pick that year. Three first round picks that season and this team was full of talent.
1.) Kentucky (2012)
Kentucky was a one seed in the South Region in 2012. They beat 16 Western Kentucky, 8 Iowa State, 4 Indiana, and 3 Baylor. Then in the Final Four they beat 4 Louisville, and in the National Championship they beat 2 seed Kansas. That Kentucky team is hands down the best team to win a National Championship from the 2010s. Their starting five was Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrance Jones and Anthony Davis,
Anthony Davis is the best player in the 2010s to win a National Title. We have seen what Anthony Davis has done at the next level. Trust me when I say that the 2012 Kentucky National Champion team that had the number one and two overall picks in the draft that year is the best team to win a national title in the 2010s.
-Chris Jones (@cjoneswho1212)
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