Photo Credit: The Boston Globe
Some schools have elite teams at one sport, but subpar teams at others. Here are the schools that had the top 5 combinations of football and basketball teams this past season. All team records mentioned in this article are from ESPN for football and ESPN for basketball.
A list like this brings forth the question for schools and fans: would you rather be solid at both sports, or elite at one and awful at the other? On this list, none of the five teams won the championships or were even in their sport’s Final Four this past season. However, they were all well above average in both sports unlike a good portion of the country’s schools.
5. Michigan Wolverines
The fifth and final spot on this list came down to Michigan and the Louisville Cardinals. Michigan took the spot because they won their conference tournament and took down Louisville in the NCAA tournament to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Both teams lost their bowl games in football, but Michigan was in a New Year’s Six bowl while Louisville was not. Both teams were in contention for the College Football Playoff late in the season, and Michigan ended up with the better record, with their 10-3 trumping Louisville’s 9-4.
4. USC Trojans
USC was arguably one the best team in the country in football after ending the season on a 9-game winning streak, with one of those nine victories being a win in the Rose Bowl over the Penn State Nittany Lions. In basketball, USC was underrated all season and earned a #11 seed in the NCAA tournament. They were four points away from qualifying for the Sweet Sixteen with their Round of 32 loss to the Baylor Bears. USC is probably the school on this list that was most underrated all season long in both sports. But not on this list.
3. Florida Gators
Florida had a decent season in football, and they actually got to the SEC championship game before being knocked off by the Alabama Crimson Tide, the national runner-up. They won the Outback Bowl and finished with a 9-4 record. In basketball, they advanced to the Elite Eight for the fifth consecutive time that they qualified for the tournament and for the sixth consecutive time as a top 4 seed. They were ultimately knocked off by the South Carolina Gamecocks.
2. Florida State Seminoles
Florida State knocked off the Michigan Wolverines in an epic Orange Bowl matchup in football before reaching the semifinals in the ACC tournament in basketball. They ultimately earned a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament before being knocked off in the Round of 32 by the Xavier Musketeers. Deciding between Florida State and Florida for the #2 spot was tough, but Florida State won the matchup in both sports and was a factor toward the top of the rankings all season long in both as well.
1. Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin made both the Big Ten championship game in both football and basketball. The football team ended up 11-3 and won the Cotton Bowl over the Western Michigan Broncos, and the basketball team knocked off the #1 overall seed Villanova Wildcats before losing in the Sweet Sixteen on an overtime buzzer-beater to the Florida Gators. Wisconsin was the only team to win a New Year’s Six bowl game in football and make it into the Sweet Sixteen in basketball. There was no better combination of football and basketball teams this past season.
If I had to make a decision between a school with football and basketball teams that are both well above average or a school with one extremely elite team and an extremely awful team, I would pick the school with good teams at both sports. Why? Because not just one but two teams are well above average, and that means two legitimate championship contenders as opposed to just one championship favorite.