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Ranking the basketball champs of this decade


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10. 2002-03 Syracuse Orange

Very young and underwhelming during the season, this team was a bit of a flash in the pan come tournament time. A three seed, Syracuse was able to build on a regular season of experience for its talented freshman starters -- McNamara and Anthony -- and some fortunate tournament venues on its path to title.

Starters: Gerry McNamara, Kueth Duany, Carmelo Anthony, Craig Forth, Hakim Warrick

Winning percentage from 1,000 WhatIfSports.com simulations against each champion of this decade: 29.8 percent

9. 2005-06 Florida Gators

As a three-seed, the 2005-06 Gators are only other team on this list to win the championship unexpectedly -- among the top eight on this list, only 2003-04 UConn, a two-seed, was not a one-seed in the tournament. Furthermore, similar to Syracuse, this young team almost seemed to win the title on accident without really knowing what it was doing. Lucky for Billy Donovan, all of the main pieces came back for another run at the title. (more on that later).

Starters: Taurean Green, Lee Humphrey, Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Joakim Noah

WhatIfSports.com simulation winning percentage: 32.9 percent

8. 2001-02 Maryland Terrapins

Head coach Gary Williams put together the most complete team of his Hall of Fame career with a good mix of heady players like Steve Blake and Lonny Baxter, defensive stoppers like Byron Mouton, freakish athletes like Chris Wilcox, and an all-around talent like Juan Dixon. Williams did not have to sweat too much over this team either, as it won all of its tournament games by double digits, except for an eight-point win over UConn.

Starters: Steve Blake, Juan Dixon, Byron Mouton, Chris Wilcox, Lonny Baxter

WhatIfSports.com simulation winning percentage: 33.3 percent

7. 1999-2000 Michigan State Spartans

Head coach Tom Izzo gets credit as a tough, defensive mastermind, but his true legacy may be in taking some of the region's best athletes and building them into smart, versatile basketball players -- it just took until the tournament for it to click. The best MSU squad since Magic Johnson, this team played ten guys more than ten minutes a game and seemingly every one of them could pass, defend, rebound and score at a high level.

Starters: Mateen Cleaves, Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, Andre Hutson, A.J. Granger

WhatIfSports.com simulation winning percentage: 35.7 percent

6. 2006-07 Florida Gators

Returning everyone but role player Adrian Moss from a championship team the year before, Florida was the obvious favorite entering the season. While the Gators locked up a one seed, they had also lost three of their last five regular season games entering the tournament -- all by double-digits. If not for that stretch, this incredibly talented and balanced team -- all five scorers averaged between 10.3 and 13.3 points -- could be in the top three or four on this list.

Starters: Taurean Green, Lee Humphrey, Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Joakim Noah

WhatIfSports.com simulation winning percentage: 45.4 percent

5. 2007-08 Kansas Jayhawks

This Kansas team had no weaknesses. Every team it played seemed to find a way to beat itself. That wasn't a fluke.

Starters: Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson

WhatIfSports.com simulation winning percentage: 50.9 percent

4. 2003-04 Connecticut Huskies

Two future top-three NBA picks in Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor led the way to give Jim Calhoun his second championship and best UConn team to date.

Starters: Taliek Brown, Ben Gordon, Denham Brown, Emeka Okafor, Josh Boone

WhatIfSports.com simulation winning percentage: 53.9 percent

3. 2008-09 North Carolina Tar Heels

A clear line separates the top-three teams of the decade from the rest, so, while not the greatest team on this list, this year's champion is still one of the best we have ever seen. They had experience, likely-future NBA players at every position and depth if they needed it. Only regular season health and some mid-season lackadaisical play on the defensive end keep the 2008-09 Tar Heels from ranking as the top UNC team of all-time.

Starters: Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, Deon Thompson, Tyler Hansbrough

WhatIfSports.com simulation winning percentage: 66.4 percent

2. 2004-05 North Carolina Tar Heels

To win a national championship, teams typically need a couple players with NBA talent. This team had four guys drafted in the first 14 picks of the 2005 NBA draft: Marvin Williams, No. 2; Raymond Felton, No. 5; Sean May, No. 13; and Rashad McCants, No. 14.

Starters: Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Jackie Manuel, Jawad Williams, Sean May

WhatIfSports.com simulation winning percentage: 69.6 percent

1. 2000-01 Duke Blue Devils

Winning at almost as high a percentage here as it did during the regular season that year, this team had everything one could ask for in a basketball team -- great coaching, outside shooting (four starters hit more than 40 threes), ball-handling, athleticism, experience, unselfishness, balanced scoring (all five starters averaged more than 12 points), tenacious defense, and a strong sixth man providing an interior presence in Carlos Boozer.

Starters: Jason Williams, Chris Duhon, Mike Dunleavy, Nate James, Shane Battier

WhatIfSports.com simulation winning percentage: 82.2 percent

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