Ranking Every College Basketball National Champion from the 1990s
The NCAA tournament in the 1990s featured some dominant championship teams.
More than just cutting down the nets, many of the champs that won it all did so in forceful fashion.
Here is a list ranking every college basketball national champion from the 1990s.
Who would be your No. 1 team in this electrifying decade of March Madness action?
Team and player information provided by Sportsreference.com
10. 1994 Arkansas Razorbacks
NCAA Tournament: 1-seed in Midwest Region
Midwest First Round: (16) North Carolina A&T (94-79)
Midwest Second Round: (9) Georgetown (85-73)
Midwest Regional Semifinal: (12) Tulsa (103-84)
Midwest Regional Final: (3) Michigan (76-68)
National Semifinal: (2) Arizona (91-82)
National Final: (2) Duke (76-72)
Final Four Most Outstanding Player: Corliss Williamson
The 1993-94 Arkansas Razorbacks were not loaded with tons of future NBA stars. In fact, only Corliss Williamson and Cory Beck were the only players off of this championship team that had any type of career in the Association.
What the ’93-94 Hogs did was to effectively carry out their coach, Nolan Richardson’s trademark feature: his “40 minutes of Hell” pressure defense.
On the season, Arkansas outscored their opponents by almost 18 points per game (93.4 to 75.6).
Even though the Razorbacks had good contribution from a variety of players, Corliss Williamson was their central weapon. On the year, the wide-bodied Williamson scored 20.4 points and grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.
During the NCAA tournament, no one seemed to be able to do much to shut him down then either.
Against Arizona in the national semifinal game, Williams poured in 29 points. Against Duke in the national championship game, he dropped in 23 more.
9. 1998 Kentucky Wildcats
NCAA Tournament: 2-seed in South Region
South First Round: (15) South Carolina State (82-67)
South Second Round: (10) Saint Louis (88-61)
South Regional Semifinal: (6) UCLA (94-68)
South Regional Final: (1) Duke (86-84)
National Semifinal: (3) Stanford (86-85)
National Final: (3) Utah (78-69)
Final Four Most Outstanding Player: Jeff Sheppard
The 1997-98 Kentucky Wildcats were not the most gifted group in terms of raw talent. However, they were a mentally tough team that knew what it took to come from behind in big games.
UK’s Wikipedia page states that this team was:
Unique in modern times, as being, along with 1985 Villanova, the 2nd team in over twenty years to win without a First Team All American or future NBA Lottery Pick.
This Cats’ team came through the regular season with a 26-4 record and won the SEC tournament.
They disposed of their first three March Madness opponents rather easily, but then had to grind out their last three games in order to win it all.
Head coach Tubby Smith’s squad had to come back from double-digit deficits in their Elite Eight and Final Four games.
Jeff Sheppard had a fantastic national semifinal game against Stanford, scoring 27 points, grabbing 6 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists.
He added 16 points in the championship game, helping the Cats come back from 10 points behind at half.
8. 1993 North Carolina Tar Heels
NCAA Tournament: 1-seed in the East Region
East First Round: (16) East Carolina (85-65)
East Second Round: (8) Rhode Island (112—67)
East Regional Semifinal: (4) Arkansas (80-74)
East Regional Final: (2) Cincinnati (75-68 OT)
National Semifinal: (2) Kansas (78-68)
National Final: (1) Michigan (77-71)
Final Four Most Outstanding Player: Donald Williams
The 1992-93 North Carolina Tar Heels were far from the school’s most talented rosters. But, no team Dean Smith coached worked and played any harder than this squad.
The Heels were led by four double-figure scorers: Eric Montross, George Lynch, Donald Williams and Brian Reese.
UNC meticulously put down one March Madness opponent after another.
Their closest call came in their Elite Eight matchup against Cincinnati. The Tar Heels needed overtime to take out the Bearcats.
In the championship game, North Carolina faced Michigan's Fab Five. With time running out and Michigan down two points, Wolverine’s star Chris Webber attempted to call a timeout while being double-teamed.
Unfortunately, Michigan had already used up all of their timeouts. Webber’s mistake resulted in a technical foul, and the Tar Heels used the subsequent free throws to give themselves some breathing room down the stretch.
7. 1997 Arizona Wildcats
1997 NCAA Tournament: 4-seed in Southeast Regional
Southeast First Round: (13) South Alabama (65-57)
Southeast Second Round: (12) College of Charleston (73-69)
Southeast Regional Semifinal: (1) Kansas (85-82)
Southeast Regional Final: (10) Providence (96-92)
National Semifinal: (1) North Carolina (66-58)
National Final: (1) Kentucky (84-79 OT)
Final Four Most Outstanding Player: Miles Simon
The Arizona Wildcats were an unlikely 1997 national champion.
They limped into March Madness with a 19-9 record after finishing in fifth place in the Pac 10.
The Cats were not exactly on a roll to close out the regular season. They went 4-4 in their last eight games.
Even in their opening game of the tournament, U of A was in danger of getting upset up South Alabama. The Jaguars were up by two points at the half.
But, Arizona was the perfect example of being a “team of destiny.” They simply refused to lose.
The Wildcats relied on a potent perimeter attack, featuring Miles Simon, Mike Bibby, Michael Dickerson and sixth man Jason Terry
One of the unique accomplishments of their improbable run to the 1997 title was they were the only team in tournament history to beat three No. 1-seeds.
This championship solidified Arizona head coach Lute Olson’s place in college hoops history.
6. 1995 UCLA Bruins
NCAA Tournament: 1-seed in West Region
West First Round: (16) Florida International (92-56)
West Second Round: (8) Missouri (75-74)
West Regional Semifinal: (5) Mississippi State (86-67)
West Regional Final: (2) Connecticut (102-96)
National Semifinal: (4) Oklahoma State (74-61)
National Final: (2) Arkansas (89-78)
Final Four Most Outstanding Player: Ed O’Bannon
The 1994-95 UCLA Bruins were a multi-talented squad that utilized balanced scoring and strong defense to get things done.
The Bruins top six players (Ed O’Bannon, Tyus Edney, Charles O’Bannon, Charles Zidek, J.R. Henderson and Toby Bailey) averaged double figures, with Ed O’Bannon leading the way (20.3 PPG).
If it were not for Tyus Edney’s miracle coast-to-coast drive against Missouri in the second round, the Bruins would have had an early exit and a disappointing 1995 NCAA tournament.
Edney had a fantastic national semifinal, leading the team with 21 points and 5 assists. However, he sustained a wrist injury that put him on the sidelines for much of the championship game.
No problem. Ed O’Bannon stepped up in the national final, scoring 30 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.
5. 1999 Connecticut Huskies
NCAA Tournament: 1-seed in West Region
West First Round: (16) Texas-San Antonio (91-66)
West Second Round: (9) New Mexico (78-56)
West Regional Semifinal: (5) Iowa (78-68)
West Regional Final: (10) Gonzaga (67-62)
National Semifinal: (4) Ohio State (64-58)
National Final: (1) Duke (77-74)
Final Four Most Outstanding Player: Richard Hamilton
The 1998-99 Connecticut Huskies made life miserable for any opponent that could not matchup with their wide-open attack.
Rip Hamilton and Khalid Al-Amin made for a troubling one-two perimeter punch
The Huskies went 28-2 in the regular season, winning both the Big East regular season and conference tournament.
Kevin Freeman had a career night in the Huskies Elite Eight win over Gonzaga. He put up 13 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, including a ridiculous 10 offensive rebounds.
It was Hamilton that brought home the school’s first NCAA championship, scoring 24 against Ohio State in the national semifinal and 27 against Duke in the title game.
4. 1991 Duke Blue Devils
NCAA Tournament: 2-seed in Midwest Regional
Midwest First Round: (15) Louisiana Monroe (102-73)
Midwest Second Round: (7) Iowa (85-70)
Midwest Regional Semifinal: (11) Connecticut (81-67)
Midwest Regional Final: (4) St. John’s (78-61)
National Semifinal: (1) UNLV (79-77)
National Final: (3) Kansas (72-65)
Final Four Most Outstanding Player: Christian Laettner
The 1991 NCAA Tournament was a recovery mission of sorts for the Duke basketball program.
In the 1990 national final, the Blue Devils were blown out by UNLV by 30 points, the greatest all-time title game margin of victory. It was important that head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his team got back on track.
The Blue Devils methodically beat each of their first four 1991 March Madness opponents by an average of almost 19 points per game.
Ironically, Duke faced the Runnin’ Rebels again in the 1991 national semi-final game. This time, Duke pulled out a two-point victory that removed the gorilla off of their collective backs from the previous March Madness.
The Blue Devils were led by Christian Laettner, Bill McCaffrey, Thomas Hill, Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley, who each averaged double-figure scoring on the year.
This was Coach K and Duke’s first NCAA men’s basketball title.
3. 1992 Duke Blue Devils
NCAA Tournament: 1-seed in the East Region
East First Round: (16) Campbell (82-56)
East Second Round: (9) Iowa (75-62)
East Regional Semifinal: (4) Seton Hall (81-69)
East Regional Final: (2) Kentucky (104-103)
National Semifinal: (2) Indiana (81-78)
National Final: (6) Michigan (71-51)
Final Four Most Outstanding Player: Bobby Hurley
This 1991-92 Duke team was a tournament-tested squad, with some players making their fourth consecutive Final Four appearance.
Duke only lost two games all season. Both came within their demanding ACC schedule (against North Carolina and Wake Forest).
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s roster featured five double-figure scorers: Christian Laettner, Thomas Hill, Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley and Brian Davis (off the bench).
The Blue Devils matchup against Kentucky in the East Regional Final is considered by many to be the greatest tournament game of all time. It is in this game against the Wildcats that Christian Laettner hit "The Shot".
In the championship game against Michigan, Duke was down by one at half. But, the Blue Devils came out and took complete control of the game in the second, holding the Wolverines, who featured the Fab Five, to 20 points in the final 20 minutes.
2. 1990 UNLV Runnin' Rebels
NCAA Tournament: 1-seed in West
West First Round: (16) Arkansas Little-Rock (102-72)
West Second Round: (8) Ohio State (76-65)
West Regional Semifinal: (12) Ball State (69-67)
West Regional Final: (11) Loyola Marymount (131-101)
National Semifinal: (4) Georgia Tech (90-81)
National Final (3) Duke (103-73)
Final Four Most Outstanding Player: Anderson Hunt
UNLV’s 1990 national championship victory was a dramatic statement of dominance.
The Runnin’ Rebels took Duke to the woodshed, beating the Blue Devils (103-73) by the largest margin (30) in tournament history.
This was the school and head coach Jerry Tarkanian’s first NCAA men’s basketball title.
In the championship game, UNLV was up on Duke by 12 at half. The second half is what created history. The Rebels, who shot 61.2 percent for the game, outscored the Blue Devils by 19 additional points.
This game almost never took place. In their Sweet 16 game against Ball State, the Runnin’ Rebels withstood an intense second-half comeback by Ball State that ended up in a two-point victory for Tark and the Rebels.
This exceptional team was led by Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony and Anderson Hunt.
Hunt, who was the team’s third leading scorer during the season, went off at this Final Four in Denver. He scored 49 points on his way to being named the NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player.
1. 1996 Kentucky Wildcats
NCAA Tournament: 1-seed in Midwest Region
Midwest First Round: (16) San Jose State (110-72)
Midwest Second Round: (9) Virginia Tech (84-60)
Midwest Regional Semifinal: (4) Utah (101-70)
Midwest Regional Final: (2) Wake Forest (83-63)
National Semifinal: (1) Massachusetts (81-74)
National Final: (4) Syracuse (76-67)
Final Four Most Outstanding Player: Tony Delk
What do you call a team that had 11 players eventually play in the NBA? At Kentucky, they called them “The Untouchables.”
They were: Derek Anderson, Tony Delk, Jamaal Magloire, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer, Nazr Mohammed, Scott Padgett, Mark Pope, Jeff Sheppard, Wayne Turner, and Antoine Walker.
The 1995-96 Kentucky Wildcats were the deepest team in NCAA history. Even the recent Wildcats’ teams do not compare with this prolific posse.
During their 34-2 season, the Cats average margin of victory was 22.2 points per game (91.6 PPG to their opponents 69. 4 PPG)
When it came to March Madness, head coach Rick Pitino’s were just as dominant. Up until the Final Four, UK beat their first four tournament opponents by an average of 28 points.
When they arrived at the Meadowlands, the Wildcats took care of business against UMass and Syracuse, with Delk, Walker and Mercer leading the way.
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