We are ranking the top 10 March Madness Champions. Although virtually no winner faces the same disadvantages or advantages as everyone else, a rankings system must take into account both the state of the sport during the championship season and aim to maintain a throughline that connects criteria.

That is certainly true with NCAA Tournament champions. When making a list of the best March Madness winners of the last 30 years, you look at winners from the senior-heavy seasons, the one-and-done era, and the time when the best high school prospects didn’t even go to college.

Now you will be factoring colleges that currently live in the NIL model and a free agent approach to transfers with the portal. That doesn’t even take into account how the tournament is now held, with the pod system and genuine seeding. Oh, and a tournament was postponed, while another was only attended by a small number of people.

The exciting part about ranking these winners is getting to travel back in time and imagine what their world was like when they achieved one of their greatest triumphs. their lone bright spot.

So, listed below are the top 10 March Madness Champions:

March Madness Champions: #1 – Duke Blue Devils, 1992

March Madness Champions: #1 – Duke Blue Devils, 1992

The top team is the oldest team on this list. The Duke Blue Devils returned most of their 1991 championship team. Mike Krzyzewski won his second national championship thanks to Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, and Bobby Hurley, who served as the cornerstone of one of the most unified teams over the previous 30 years. In the final act, the Blue Devils defeated the Fab Five Michigan Wolverines 71-51 in the national championship game. Of course, Laettner’s jumper to defeat Kentucky in the East Region final is the team’s most enduring memory.

March Madness Champions: #2 – Kentucky Wildcats, 1996

March Madness Champions: #2 – Kentucky Wildcats, 1996

This season, Rick Pitino’s Wildcats were 34-2 with their only defeats coming at the hands of John Calipari’s UMass team (whom Kentucky would go on to defeat in the Final Four) and Mississippi State in the SEC title game. The Cats were led by Tony Delk, Antoine Walker, and Walter McCarty. Ron Mercer, Derek Anderson, and Mark Pope were also big parts of the team. Kentucky easily defeated UMass and Syracuse to win the national championship after dominating the Midwest Region, including a game against Tim Duncan’s Wake Forest.

March Madness Champions: #3 – Duke Blue Devils, 2001

March Madness Champions: #3 – Duke Blue Devils, 2001

This Blue Devils team has absurd talent. The Blue Devils won their third-ever championship under the leadership of Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, and Nate James, capping a four-year stretch in which Duke went 133-15. How outstanding they truly were: Battier received the Naismith and Wooden Trophies, while Williams was named the NABC Player of the Year. True, the same team has two players of the year winners. Their comeback against Maryland in the height of their rivalry is still one of the best moments in school history. Three of their four losses that season were by two points or fewer.

March Madness Champions: #4 – Kentucky Wildcats, 2012

March Madness Champions: #4 – Kentucky Wildcats, 2012

This version of the Wildcats were led by Anthony Davis, who had one of the best one-and-done seasons in history. Kentucky lost twice all season – a buzzer beater at Indiana and a strange setback to Vanderbilt in the SEC championship game. When it came to defense, Davis was unstoppable, essentially securing the paint and snatching every rebound. The flexibility to take chances on defense and have faith in their shots on offense was given to Doron Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, and Darius Miller. Although not as overpowering as some of Kentucky’s prior champions, this team was among the strongest defensively.

March Madness Champions: #5 – UConn Huskies, 1999

March Madness Champions: #5 – UConn Huskies, 1999

It is rare that we see two teams sizing each other up all year and then meet in the national championship game, but just like Baylor and Gonzaga did in 2021, UConn and Duke did it in 1999. Richard Hamilton (21.5 ppg), along with Khalid El-Amin, Ricky Moore, Kevin Freeman, and Jake Voskuhl, led UConn to a 34-2 record that season. The Huskies defeated 12 ranked teams throughout the regular season and were sent to the West Region, where they had to play in Colorado and Phoenix, despite only dropping two games and winning the Big East regular season and conference tournament. Jim Calhoun raced with the lack of respect theme and rumbled to the program’s first Final Four where they’d duel with Duke in the finale. That game was all you’d want it to be, as Hamilton outscored Duke’s Trajan Langdon, 27-25, and the Huskies win their first title, 77-74.
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#6 – North Carolina Tar Heels, 2009

March Madness Champions: #6 – North Carolina Tar Heels, 2009

The 2009 Tar Heels were all about dominance, in contrast to the 2017 Tar Heels victory, which was dubbed “Redemption.” In the 2008 Final Four, Kansas completely destroyed North Carolina, and everyone returned to finish the job and win the championship, which they accomplished. After dominating the regular season, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Danny Green dominated the tournament, winning every game by at least 12 points. In the final game in Detroit, they thrashed Michigan State, making Roy Williams’ finest Tar Heels squad the victor.

#7 – Baylor Bears, 2021

March Madness Champions: #7 – Baylor Bears, 2021

These Bears were overlooked all season long as Gonzaga’s unbeaten season stole much of the headlines, but the Bears were right there with the Zags. No other champion on this list had as much hardship during their campaign. This was the COVID season, therefore keep in mind that games were played in empty arenas and that the schedule could alter at any time. Baylor had 10 games cancelled or postponed due to COVID difficulties, including the Bears program virtually shutting down for two weeks in February. Baylor’s first loss of the season was versus Kansas, which was their first game after the COVID outage. Once the tournament began, Baylor’s physical approach carried them through the dance as they crushed undefeated Gonzaga in the title game. The trio of MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler were suffocating that season.

#8 – Villanova Wildcats, 2018

March Madness Champions: #8 – Villanova Wildcats, 2018

One of the finest offensive champs in history was this Villanova squad. National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson led a team featuring Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Omari Spellman, Phil Booth and Eric Paschall were so effective and could beat you in a number of ways, including peppering threes from anywhere. Before experiencing some turbulence in the latter part of the season, the Wildcats started the year 22-1. (they lost three games in a six-game stretch in February). Nova dominated the competition, defeating Michigan and Kansas in the Final Four to win their third title and second in three years.

#9 – Florida Gators, 2007

March Madness Champions: #9 – Florida Gators, 2007

The last team to win the national championship twice was this one. The Gators ran it back and became the first school to win back-to-back championships since 1991-1992 Duke a year after startling everyone by winning their first championship. Before losing three straight road games at the end of the regular season, Florida’s starting lineup of Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Taurean Green, and Lee Humphrey had one of the best records on this list. Florida then got back on track and pushed through the SEC and NCAA tournaments, winning both titles, including defeating a very good Ohio State Buckeyes team in the championship game. It’s interesting to note that Florida defeated Ohio State to win the national football championship that year.

#10 – North Carolina Tar Heels, 2005

March Madness Champions: #10 – North Carolina Tar Heels, 2005

Roy Williams was brought back to his alma mater, North Carolina, to restore its glory, and he did it in just two seasons. The 2004-2005 Tar Heels were led by juniors Raymond Felton, Sean May, and Rashad McCants. They lost their first game of the season to Santa Clara, but then went 33-4 and beat No. 1 Illinois in the final. Ol’ Roy wins his first national championship and restores Carolina to fame just three years after an 8-20 season.

Thank you for checking out our article on the top 10 March Madness Champions!