PHOENIX (AP) — The top of The Associated Press Top 100 all-time college basketball ranking is filled with blueblood programs that followed those strong regular seasons with runs to the Final Four or even a national championship. Still, all those poll appearances didn't guarantee postseason success. Or foreshadow it, for that matter.
PHOENIX (AP) — The top of The Associated Press Top 100 all-time college basketball ranking is filled with blueblood programs that followed those strong regular seasons with runs to the Final Four or even a national championship.
Still, all those poll appearances didn't guarantee postseason success. Or foreshadow it, for that matter.
While Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke have recent titles and Final Four trips to go with their long-running success, things have slowed of late in the postseason for UCLA and Indiana. Powers such as Kansas and Arizona have frequently seen promising recent seasons end with postseason stumbles.
And then there are teams like Connecticut, with a knack for surprising everyone.
The AP released its Top 100 on Wednesday to combine more than 1,100 polls worth of history dating to January 1949. The AP counted poll appearances (one point each) to mark consistency and No. 1 rankings (two points each) to acknowledge elite programs in a poll that ranged between 10 and 20 teams before expanding to its current 25-team size during the 1989-90 season.
But the AP doesn't release a poll after the NCAA Tournament, making the Top 100 only a snapshot of which teams have thrived the most during the regular season while not measuring how many of those seasons ended — whether by hoisting a trophy or suffering a shockingly early exit.
So how did the teams stack up? The ones at the top matched the hype, starting with No. 1 Kentucky.
The Wildcats won their eighth NCAA title in 2012 to rank second all-time, making John Calipari the third UK coach to win a championship in a two-decade span (Rick Pitino in 1996 and Tubby Smith in 1998 were the others). Kentucky is also second in Final Four appearances with 17 — including four in eight seasons under Calipari — while posting a record 124 tournament wins.
Second-ranked North Carolina is in this weekend's Final Four for a record 20th time and the second straight year. Before that, UNC had won NCAA championships in 2005 and 2009 to offer some more recent success to go two NCAA crowns under Dean Smith in 1982 and 1993.
And third-ranked Duke has the long-term success (12 Final Fours since 1986) to go with the recent wins (titles in 2010 and 2015) under Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski.
As for fourth-ranked UCLA and sixth-ranked Indiana, they have the overall resume to rival anyone, but they lack the recent success to go with it.
UCLA owns the record for No. 1 rankings (134) and NCAA championships (11), but the Bruins have won a single title (1995) and reached four Final Fours since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 — the last in 2008.
As for the Hoosiers, they have five NCAA titles — three under long-departed coach Bobby Knight — and eight Final Fours. But Thursday marks the 30th anniversary of Indiana's last national title, and the Hoosiers haven't been to a Final Four since 2002.
When it comes to Kansas and Arizona, there's a history of seeing big regular seasons end in frustration.
The fifth-ranked Jayhawks have the nation's longest active poll streak dating to February 2009, and a postseason resume of 14 Final Fours with three national titles. But the Jayhawks have had their share of terrific seasons fall short of potential in March, with coach Bill Self falling to 2-5 in regional finals with Saturday's lost to Final Four-bound Oregon.
And who can forget title contenders led by Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz getting tripped up by Arizona in the Sweet 16 (1997) and by Rhode Island in the second round (1998) under then-coach Roy Williams?
At eighth-ranked Arizona, Lute Olson spent the late 1980s and 1990s building a national power that won the 1997 title. But the Wildcats haven't reached a Final Four since playing in the 2001 title game — including three regional-final losses for current coach Sean Miller.
Lastly, there's a team that stands out as an overachiever: No. 16 Connecticut.
The Huskies went 35 years with only two poll appearances before Jim Calhoun got things rolling. Once he did, Connecticut hoisted the trophy four times in five Final Four trips.
As if that 80-percent conversion rate wasn't impressive enough, they've done it from both extremes. Their 1999 and 2004 titles came as a 1- or 2-seed, their 2011 title came on a momentum wave following a five-games-in-five-days Big East Tournament title run behind Kemba Walker, and their 2014 crown came as a No. 7 regional seed.
It just shows: all those regular-season rankings don't mean everything come March.
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