Best Team You Ever Saw

Now that the tourney is over. Quick question -

Which college basketball team is the best you’ve ever seen?

For me, I think the 1989-90 UNLV team was the best. Hogs went to final four that season as well. But Vegas would just destroy people. Yeah they lost a few games that year, but I feel that was down to them getting bored.

That team would dunk on you, shoot 3’s in your face, and just was amazing to watch. They all may have been grown men, but what a great team. I think they could have played in any era, against any team, including the UCLA’s, the undefeated Indiana team, our 1994 team(even though we could’ve been a test for them).

I think Nolan even said they were the best he had ever seen, or something like that.

Of course, I know others have a team they saw. So what do you guys think?

Best team I ever saw was Vegas 90-91. Better than their version of a year earlier. Came into Barnhill and just toyed with us. Screwed up and let Duke beat them in the Final Four, but absolutely awesome.

Houston in 1983 was pretty overwhelming too. That’s the team that lost to N.C. State in the NCG at Albuquerque, as Jim Valvano outcoached Guy V. by approximately a country mile.

And let’s not forget that UNC team that we beat in Pine Bluff in '84. UNC played eight guys against us that day. All eight were chosen in the NBA draft; not all of them actually played in the big show, but they all were drafted. Brad Daugherty, Sam Perkins and some guy named Jordan played in the NBA for a really, really long time.

Oh yeah, and their starting point guard didn’t play in Pine Bluff because he had a broken wrist. You saw him on TV tonight; Kenny Smith. Also a long-time NBA guy.

Funny that all three of those teams failed to win the NC. Which tells you how much of a crap shoot the Dance is. UNC won it last year, and we had them dead to rights in the round of 32. Villanova probably was actually the best team this year, which is somewhat of a rarity. We were also probably the best team in '94, but it doesn’t happen that much.

Writing about that game in Pine Bluff reminds me of my memories of that day. No, it wasn’t about Al McGuire shouting “It’s good!” prematurely. I was there, so I didn’t hear what he said until much later.

I was at the game as a reporter. I drove down from Little Rock that morning, which means I probably got there shortly after the team arrived by plane from Dallas, where we beat SMU and Jon Koncak the previous day. First person I saw there who I knew was Keith Jackson, then a senior at Little Rock Parkview and still a much-sought recruit. I asked him where he was going. He said something noncommittal. A week or so later, I was at his press conference at a Little Rock park where he signed with Oklahoma. Some people in Arkansas still haven’t forgiven him for that, even after all those years as Chuck Barrett’s analyst and sending two sons to play for the Hogs.

Then the game began. I’d seen Jordan hit the game-winner in the '82 NCG against Georgetown. And I knew all about Daugherty and Doherty and Smith and Buzz Peterson and Joe Wolf and Dave Popson. And Steve Hale, the guard from Tulsa that we had recruited like crazy before he signed to play for Dean Smith. And I knew UNC was 21-0 and #1 in the country. I did not know yet that four players from the game would win Olympic gold medals in Los Angeles that summer: Jordan, Perkins, Joe Kleine and Alvin Robertson.

You’d have never known the team had just arrived on a vomit-comet flight from Dallas. We looked sharp from the beginning and had a four-point lead at halftime, which expanded to 10 early in the second half. But that kid wearing #23 who kept sticking his tongue out kept making shots, and he hit one with 1:15 left to give the Heels the lead.

Eddie called time with about 30 seconds left to set the play. Alvin was our best playmaker and it made sense he was going to get the ball from Ricky Norton. He found one of Dudley’s old friends roaming the left baseline. This was the result (notice who was playing zero defense on the play):

The Tar Heel lying on the floor was Steve Hale, the kid from Tulsa we recruited, who had tried to draw a charge on Alvin. His name will come up again in this story.

Carolina called time out, quickly advanced the ball to midcourt and called time again with 3 seconds left. The border on the court was only about a foot wide, and the press table where I was sitting was jammed up against the edge of the court, so much so that when Matt Doherty had to inbound the ball right in front of me, he actually had to stand inside the sideline; I remember the official telling him not to move. At the 6:10 mark of the video linked below, I’m pretty sure that was my head behind Doherty’s right knee.

Doherty flung the ball basically straight down the sideline to Hale, who caught it, turned and shot. Which is when McGuire hollered “It’s good;” I knew what he meant, which was that Hale had gotten the shot away before the horn. But it hit the rim short and bounced over.

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When I got back to Little Rock that evening after filing three versions of my game story for UPI, I called my fiancee, who was still in school in Fayetteville. She said you could hear people screaming all over town when Hale’s shot bounced over the hoop.

Oh, one more thing about where I sat that day. For some reason UNC brought a mini-pep band which was right behind me. One of their trombonists was narrowly missing my noggin every time he extended the slide. But ever since then, every time I hear the UNC fight song, I think about getting it at full volume from six inches away about 50 times that day. That’s one fight song I will never forget (maybe that day is part of why my hearing is retreating even faster than my hairline).

Somewhere I think I still have my mimeographed box score from that game. Mimeo, for those too young to remember, was a primitive copy machine where a document was put on a rotating drum and the resulting copies were always in blue. I’m sure I found a facsimile machine (almost as antiquated as mimeos; also utilizing a rotating drum at six minutes per page) somewhere and sent that blue-tinged copy to my regional office in Dallas, after which I talked to the regional sports editor who tried to make sense out of the garbage I’d sent him on my Tandy TRS-80, which bore some resemblance to a computer but not much. But I got some bylined clippings from papers who also used AP, which means they thought my version was better than AP’s (or maybe they just got mine first; that was a definite possibility).

Yeah that Vegas squad was amazing. They lost to Duke, but I promise you they wouldn’t have wanted to hit the court with them again. Some say that game was fixed by the mob too.

Yeah they did toy with us in that 1991 game. If I remember correctly, weren’t we ranked #2 and they were #1? And the limp swing Todd Day did when the little scuffle broke out? That was shown all over Sportscenter.

It was #1 vs. #2 in the Hogs-UNLV game in 1991 in Barnhill when UNLV schooled us.

Speaking of rankings, one of my memories of the North Carolina game in '84 was that North Carolina was #1 when we played them, and they were still #1 the week after we beat them. That’s how much that team was respected. I can’t recall another instance in football or basketball of a #1 team losing and staying #1.

UNC was dominant that year. Up to the point that we played them, I don’t think any team had finished within 10 points of them. It was HUGE that we beat them that day.

I wish I could have seen some the UCLA teams in their prime.

I’d say the '94 Razorbacks.

I’ll go with the 91 Vegas team.

As for Feb. 12, 1984 - arguably one of the greatest days of my life.

My best friend hit the shot to beat North Carolina and I met my late wife and future mother of my children on that night.

That’s hard to beat.

Love the video for Charles’ shot, the height I could still jump, that I had hair and the fact that I got that basketball after two bounces. Late in the video you can me protecting it like it was my life.

I had a non-Arkansas friend tell me that. Also didn’t some service list them as top 5 team ever?

It is hard to argue why they are not the best team. They had size better than that UNLV team or any other team mentioned here. They had shooters, defense, everything you want in a team. The only reason one would say that they are not the best team is because one does not want to be called a homer.

Love this thread! I was born and raised in PB. In "84 I was living in Vegas! My son was able to go to the NC game in PB ( he was 12 at the time ). In '91 he was a student at UofA and got to see the UNLV game in Fayetteville in Barnhill! I still live in Vegas as does he and his family. I went to many UNLV games in '90 and '91 and would have to say those two teams, basically the same players, were the best I’ve ever seen. Also saw them beat us in a track meet at the Thomas and Mack in '90. We led at the half. Larry Johnson fouled out and I thought for sure we’d win, but we came up short. Tark and Nolan were good friends. Great teams…

I’m obviously a youngster, but the best I’ve seen is 2000-01 Duke. I loved watching Jay Williams (read his book ‘Life is not an accident’ if you get the chance). He was one of the first players I tried to emulate when I started playing ball in second grade.

Also really enjoyed watching 2007-08 Kansas, which beat Derrick Rose and Memphis in the title game. Sherron Collins was another little guy from that team that I latched onto, and Brandon Rush had such a smooth game.

This morning ESPN.com came out with a ranking of all-time national championship teams. We were #25. Bill Walton’s first UCLA team, which AVERAGED a 30-point margin of victory during a perfect season, was #1. Indiana 1976 was #2. Those were both pretty darn good.

But at the time, you didn’t get to see UCLA much until March. I saw more of Indiana, and they were really impressive that season. I thought about including them in my three, but thinking about those great teams that fell short of the line.

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Why weren’t we ranked higher? We lost three games for one thing. Only two teams were ranked above us with 3 or more losses. We lost by 2 at Bama, 1 at Moo U, then Kentucky beat us by 12 in the SECT semis.

The newest NC was ranked #32, by the way.

The worst NC ever? The Utah squad that took our place in 1944 after (a) our car accident on Highway 71 and (b) a first-round loss to Kentucky in the NIT. But being the worst NC ever is still being the NC.

In my argument against expanding the College Football Playoff beyond 4 teams - which is precisely the format I settled upon and have argued for over the past 25 years, after years of deliberation - I’ve mentioned this “fun fact” several time: The more teams you add to a “one and done” tournament/playoff, the LESS the odds that the truly “best” team prevails. This is a statistical certainty (the only exception is if the odds of a team winning each game they played was 100% - and that is never the case).

It IS true that the “best” team does have a better chance of winning any tournament. But, if the “best chance” is 18% (or whatever) - meaning that none of the other 67 teams have a likelihood of winning better than that - that still means there is an 82% chance the best team does not win.

For example, if a team has an 80% chance of defeating any/all opponents that they play in a tournament that requires 6 wins to prevail (as is the case in the NCAA tournament), their chances of winning the whole thing are approximately 1 in 4 (26.2%). In reality, the odds would not be 80% across the board; more like 95% in the first round, 80% in the second round, and 60-70% in the sweet sixteen and beyond, even for a dominant team. Using the higher of each of those odds, the “best” team would make it through all six games about 18% of the time. And, keep in mind that is for a truly DOMINANT team, the likes of which we rarely see. Even a “super dominant” team, expected to win 90% of the games they play, would only win about half the time (53%).

If the CFP were expanded to 16 teams, as many have advocated, the situation wouldn’t be quite as bad - but the same general concept applies. A dominant team (defined as having an 80% chance of beating any team it would play in the tournament) would win only 41% of the time. If the team were “merely the best” (i.e., not AS dominant) and had a 2/3 chance of winning each game, the chances of making it through four games undefeated drop to about 20%,

Again, the real odds would probably not be quite as uniform as 2/3 across every game. More like 80% in round 1, 70% in round 2 and 60% in each of the final two games. Using those figures, odds of the "best’ team winning are still about 20%.

Yeah, Duds, the whole state of Arkansas (alive at the time) remembers that Sunday, but you have more reason to remember it than most.

I looked up Carolina’s scores that season. They started out the season #1 and stayed there the entire season until Indiana took them out in the Sweet 16. They beat Mizzou by 7 in the opener, didn’t have another single-digit MOV until they won at Wake Forest in January by 8, beat Virginia at home by 3, at Duke by 5, and obliterated Wake by 37 in the rematch. Their last game before us was the rematch at UVa, won by 13. The last regular season game was a 2OT win over Duke at home, then Duke got them in the ACC semis. So they went 21-0, then 7-3 in the last 10.

I would agree that the best Razorback team is the 1994 team. You can’t argue with winning the NC and a 31-3 and 14-2 SEC record. That team ended the regular season ranked #2 according to HogStats.com.

However, the 1990-91 team is in the argument for best Razorback team. They were 34-4 and 15-1 SWC and finished the season ranked #2. This team’s losses were to #3 Arizona in the final of the pre-season NIT, to #1 UNLV 112-105 (BTW this UNLV team, that supposedly toyed with us, was behind at half 50-46, outscoring us 66-55 in the second half), at #23 Texas in the final conference season game, and to #12 Kansas (91-83) in the regional final (8 teams remaining).

This team had Mayberry, Day, Miller, Isaiah Morris, Arlyn Bowers, Ernie Murry, Ron Huery, Roosevelt Wallace, and Clyde Fletcher (also Darrell Hawkins, but I think he had a season ending injury early in the season that actually gave him another year of eligibility). BTW, after losing to Texas they beat the Horns 120-89 in the SWC championship game. This was May-Day and Miller’s junior season. Their senior year wasn’t quite as good (26-8; 13-3 in the SEC) primarily because Miller was not healthy for much of the season. Of course, in their sophomore season they made the final 4 and lost to Duke.

I remember sometime after the 94-95 run, someone asked Sidney Moncrief a question about the 1994-95 Hogs being the greatest Hog team and he said something to the effect that they likely weren’t the most talented team of Nolan’s.

Great story, Dudley.

I didn’t start watching college basketball until the 1977-78 year, so I can’t speak as to the old UCLA teams, UK teams, etc. To me the best college team ever was the UNLV team of 1990 and 1991. How that 1991 team lost in the finals is still an unknown. I personally don’t think any team in the last 20 years could stay on the floor with any of the really good teams from the 80’s and 90’s. The ones and done (even 2 and done) players have made it impossible to have a team like UNLV did or we did in 1994 and 1995.

I think our 1994 team was in the all time top 10 since I have been watching (again since the 1977-78 year).

I’ll have to go with the 94 Arkansas team as the best I ever saw.

As a Pine Bluff native that attended the 84 Hog - Tar Heel game I’ll have to say that was the greatest game ever for me. Several years ago I got to know Brad Daugherty through some NASCAR business my company was doing. When I was introduced to Brad I told him he had been to my home town. He asked me what was my home town. When I told him Pine Bluff he said “you guys were lucky”. We had a lot of good laughs over that day. Brad is a great guy and called me “Arkansas” after that for a while. Brad spoke highly of Joe Kline and said Alvin Roberson was a tough, tough basketball player.

What a great day.

I’ve lived in Kansas and Missouri since 03 (all but 3 years). I was here when CMA had his EE team, he was asked how they compared with the best team he’d ever coached, the 94 NC team. He said a similar comment, they won the NC, but wasn’t the best team he coached. It was the MayDay teams.