It’s mid-March, which is the time of year that most American sports fans associate with the craziness that is the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I’m sure that you’ve heard lots of talk about office productivity taking a sharp decline due to workers streaming the tournament instead of doing work, and I know you’ve got at least one friend who will go on and on about their bracket, which will probably be blown to smithereens by the third day of action. However, as I’m sure you’ve noticed by the title of the article, I’m not here to talk about my (inevitably terrible) bracket. I’m here to talk about the best-looking matchups at the end of each bracket; The Best-Looking NCAA National Championships of the Past 30 (Or So) Years.
First, let’s start with the honorable mentions. You could say that this is the NIT of this list (No offense to anybody whose school is participating in the Not Invited Tou-I mean, National Invitational Tournament).
North Carolina vs. Michigan State (2009)
Villanova Vs. Georgetown (1985)
North Carolina vs. Georgetown (1982, aka the reason for the “Or So” in the title)
Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to get into the list, starting one of two games on this list that the NCAA wants you to to act like it never happened:
#5: Michigan vs. Duke (1992)
You know, for all the credit that the Fab Five gets for shifting the culture of college basketball in the 90s, they did so in relatively simple uniforms. That being said, these are very solid uniforms and combined with Duke’s classic uniforms from the early 90s, it made for viewing that was aesthetically easy on the eyes.
#4: North Carolina vs. Illinois (2005)
When you talk about looks that are modern classics in college basketball, North Carolina’s embrace of argyle is definitely in the discussion, and this particular incarnation of their uniforms may have been the best of the three that you will see in this list. Meanwhile, Illinois’ basketball program has always managed to roll out solid uniforms throughout the years, and this set was no different. Combine their distinctive orange uniforms with UNC’s great uniforms and you’ve got a great-looking Championship game.
#3: Kentucky vs. Kansas (2012)
The most recent game on this list was also one of the better looking Championship Games in recent memory. Despite the fact that these were two bluebloods of college basketball going at it, the uniforms weren’t as boring as you’d expect. Both teams had uniforms that were modern but not the point where they were so modern that they looked like something you’d see in TRON. Instead, we got two teams with modern yet mature looks that were as stylish as they were classy. A really solid looking game.
#2: North Carolina vs. Michigan (1993)
The only color vs. color matchup here, and it was fantastic.. This was back when the NCAA classified yellow jerseys as “home” jerseys, which means that it led to some pretty cool color combinations on the court (as it does in the NBA whenever the Lakers take the court in their regular gold uniforms). So, if you combine the Fab Five-era yellow jersey of Michigan with one of the first incarnations of North Carolina in their argyle era, you get one of the best looking title games in NCAA tournament history. Too bad that this is a memorable game for other reasons.
#1: Indiana vs. Syracuse (1987)
Even with the short shorts, this is an amazing looking game. Just look at those uniforms. Syracuse sort of brought these uniforms back for a fauxback set, but there’s nothing like seeing the original in action. Indiana have always had great uniforms, and ‘87 the simple design was at its best, with the candy-red popping off the “cream” jerseys, especially when it came to the bold intersecting “IU” logo on the shorts. It’s a shame that this game came before the advent of high-definition television, which means that the only fans who got to see this game in its resplendent glory were actually in the building to watch it. So for now, we’ll just have to make do with these photos.
So there you have it: In my opinion, the five best National Championship games from the past 30 (or so) years. What’s your opinion? Did I miss a game? Do you think it’s completely hogwash? If so, post some games in the comments so we can see what you think is the best. Your bracket is busted anyways so you may as well take a shot at this, too.