In addition to the list, college basketball fans around the country were surveyed using SB Nation Reacts to get their opinions on some of the more recent teams included on the list. Those fans were asked which team from the last 20 years would be most dominant in any era.
I chose 2005 UNC, because that team was terrific. Maybe I’m partial because in the era of one and dones, the Tar Heels were built off multiple year players — many of whom had very good pro careers — but no dominant future NBA All Star like ‘12 Kentucky or ‘01 Duke. I thought their combination of skill and shooting all while playing with pace is something that will easily translate.
Obviously having elite NBA players translates too.
The women’s side saw more than 70 percent of the vote split between just two teams, with the 2002 UConn Huskies team narrowly edging out the 2016 UConn squad.
The great teams are almost always lead by at least one unique talent. According to the survey, a third of fans believe having a player like that is the most important aspect when comparing a team against other teams from different eras.
Fans around the country said the most versatile player in any era of the college game was North Carolina’s Michael Jordan. Blowing by Magic Johnson, who received roughly 20 percent of the vote (I tend to think these kids vastly underrate how unreal of a player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was... but YMMV).
When asked the same question about the women’s game, it was Diana Taurasi who earned the most votes.
Taurasi was clearly a key part of the basketball dynasty at UConn. The program has been so dominant through the years that there are two stretches of time that could stand as its own dynasty.
According to fans, a majority believe the UConn run from 2001-04 was the better stretch.
The current UConn team is in a familiar position, sitting at the top of the AP Top 25 and headed for a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, for now, fans don’t believe this year’s squad is deserving of a spot on the Top 50 women’s teams of all time.
Similarly, despite being undefeated, a slight majority of fans don’t believe the 2020-21 Gonzaga team has earned a Top 50 spot either.
While there are no shortage of dominant programs in today’s game, no one compares on the men’s side to the dominance of UCLA under John Wooden in the 1960s and 70s. The legacy of those teams still lasts today, with nearly three-fourths of fans believing the dynasty would still compete with today’s teams.
This entire topic is something worth exploring, because there are a fair amount of old-heads, like me a little, who seem to think that the guys from way-back-when were far better. But the game has changed so much. Including how much longer it took players to develop into pros. Now guys can choose a G-league option right out of high school, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played three years at UCLA (freshmen weren’t eligible to play in the mid 60s) despite averaging 29 points and 15 rebounds as a sophomore. You think he was ready?
Roster turnover is also in play, but the reality is players today are bigger, faster, and stronger than anyone who played 20-30-40 years ago. Its an interesting topic for sure.
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