Sports

What Programs Make Up College Basketball’s Mt. Rushmore

by: Nick Byerly
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(Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Now with the UCONN Huskies bringing home their fourth National Championship in 16 years I must ask the question: Are they among the MT. Rushmore of College Basketball? I am putting this together using the current college basketball landscape with a strong mix of history and success through the years.

Lets breakdown the list of the teams that are making our mountain.

There is an argument to be made either way for UCLA and the only reason I say that is because a majority of their National Championships came in the John Wooden Era (10 out of the 11 to be exact). The last banner that UCLA got to hang dates back to 1995 and the Jim Harrick days.  But for me they make the mountain just because of the history. What Wooden did will never be repeated because of the modern era which is college basketball and college athletics. Kids coming out of High school have so many more options and with the NBA pulling guys away from college; the senior laden teams are more of a blip on the radar.  But its good to look back at this history and admire what this program was able to accomplish.

 

Next I  argue the case of Kentucky. This school is second all-time with 8 National Championships. I understand that half of these date back before the 60’s; but this is a program that has found a way to continue their legacy into the millennium. Through several different head coaches over the past decade; Kentucky has continued its proud tradition of being a “blue blood” college basketball school. They make the mountain and continue to cement themselves into the bed rock.

Now it starts to get a little tougher as we narrow the list to the remaining two spots. Let’s first take a look at the ones that are being considered:

North Carolina

Duke

Indiana

Connecticut

 

I must take Indiana off the list for the simple fact that the Hoosiers have lacked National Championship talk in decades.

The last National Championship that the Hoosiers brought home was back in 1987.The years of Bobby Knight and the red sweater are foggy memories in the mind of many people.  I understand they rank in a tie for third all-time with 5 banners but the fact remains that Indiana continues to be a “think back program”. This could change in the future if and when the program continues to grow and improve.

 

I have to carve out the North Carolina “Tarheel” onto the mountain with the other two schools. This program is third all-time with 5 National Championships (57′,82′, 93′, 05′, 09′) and continues to be a program that last throughout the years. From Frank McGuire, Dean Smith to Roy Williams the level of success has remained a staple of bringing home National Championships. Its more then just numbers for this school; its how the program has done it.  This goes to show you that a program can continue to be relevant throughout the years.

 

The last spot really has turned into a debate and I say this because of the current path set by UCONN. If this was just based on coaching then K would be up there without argument; but the spans in which the National Championships can be both an argument for and against the program.

 

In my opinion Duke has come up short a few times over the past 10-15 years. Connecticut on the other hand has set a pace with 4 National Championships in the past 16 years. For UCONN the era of basketball was greatly changed in 1986′ when they hired Jim Calhoun and he continued to grow the program through the 90’s. Finally in 99′ the Huskies broke through by beating top ranked Duke and continued the success for banners in 04′, 11′, and 2014.

 

With all this being said and the pros and cons put out on the table I would have to say Duke gets my vote. The history and the continued success prove to be a mark in college basketball. But UCONN has proven to be a beast in the modern era of college basketball; no more should it surprise people to hear them in the National Championship talk. The mountain that is college basketball could and most likely will change as society and college athletics continue to change.

Congrats to UCONN Huskies on your 4th National Championship. If you are making a modern era only Mt. Rushmore or at the least the last 10 years, the UCONN Huskies would be #1 no debate about that!

 

Let us know what your Mt. Rushmore would be in the comment section below.

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