Final Four teams ranked by historical significance
This year's Final Four field is stacked. Two of the schools are among the top five for most victories in NCAA Division I men's college basketball; three of the four have won national championships; and all have been doing it for a very long time. Between North Carolina, Syracuse, Villanova and Oklahoma, there are more than 400 years of basketball history and over 7,400 all-time victories. That's a lot of history.
With such deep lineages, let's deep dive into each Final Four team, ranked by historical significance.
4) Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma is the lone team of this group that has not won a national title, despite four previous trips to the Final Four. However, the school, which entered the season just shy of 1,600 all-time victories (36th most among D-I men's teams), has never seen someone quite like Buddy Hield. The leading national player of the year candidate trails only Wayman Tisdale in career scoring for the Sooners.
Lon Kruger has seen steady improvement since taking over in 2011 and he hopes to guide Oklahoma back to the title game for the first time since Tisdale, Mookie Blaylock, and Stacey King did it in 1988. Between this banner Final Four run, Hield's incredible season and Blake Griffin's ascendance in the NBA, Oklahoma's sell as one of the nation's premier two-sport universities is stronger than ever.
3) Villanova Wildcats
Despite being one of only six schools among the top 50 in all time wins to have played less than 100 seasons, Villanova ranks 25th overall with 1,684 victories in 96 seasons. No victory was greater than when Rollie Massimino's Wildcats shocked the sports world in 1985. As an unranked eighth-seed they shot the lights out of the national champion game and knocked off heavily favored Georgetown to claim the title.
Though they have boasted minimal star power over the years – the school has had only four consensus first team All-Americans – Jay Wright and the Wildcats keep finding ways to win. Villanova's upset of Kansas on Saturday secured the school's fifth Final Four appearance, and its first since 2009.
2) Syracuse Orange
Two spots behind North Carolina in all-time victories is Syracuse. The oldest program of the four, the Orange played their first season in 1900-01. Incredibly, Syracuse has turned in an NCAA-record 46 consecutive winning seasons, with 40 of those coming under Jim Boeheim's direction.
Freshman Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse to the school's only national championship in 2003 (coincidentally against Roy Williams' last Kansas team). Beyond that, the Orange were runners-up in 1987 and 1996. This season marks the school's sixth Final Four appearance.
1) North Carolina Tar Heels
Ranking atop the all-time programs of this year's Final Four field is North Carolina. Trailing only Kentucky and Kansas for the most Division I victories in history, the Tar Heels have claimed five NCAA championships (1957, 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009) and this year marks the school's 19th Final Four appearance - its fourth trip in 12 tournament appearances under Roy Williams. North Carolina is one of the sport's blue bloods, a program synonymous with college basketball. From Michael Jordan to Dean Smith, there are few programs in all of athletics whose history is as rich and successful as North Carolina's.