March Madness – Ranking the all-time starting fives for the 2022 NCAA tournament Sweet 16 team

With this year’s Sweet 16, we’ve decided to have some fun. For every team that’s still alive in the 2022 NCAA tournament, we picked an all-time starting five — and we ranked them.

This list is solely based on collegiate production. The goal was to create a traditional lineup that features both guards and big men. We couldn’t pull that off with every school. Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have to be paired together on UCLA’s all-time team, right?

We also admit that there are a lot of players who could have cracked these lists. But when you limit yourself to five players, things get more difficult and probably more controversial.

That didn’t stop us from trying.

Here is our list of the all-time starting fives — and the coaches to lead them — for this season’s Sweet 16 teams, and where we believe they should be ranked.


Good luck guarding both Abdul-Jabbar and Walton.

G Gail Goodrich: AP All-America first team (1965); won national titles in 1964 and 1965; averaged 19.0 PPG in three seasons at UCLA

G Reggie Miller: All-Pac-12 first team (1986, 1987); averaged 25.9 PPG in 1985-86; averaged 22.3 PPG and 44% from 3 in 1986-87

F Marques Johnson: Won the first Wooden Award (1977); averaged 11.6 PPG for the 1975 national title team; AP All-America first team (1977); averaged 21.4 PPG, 11.1 RPG in 1976-77

C Kareem Abdul Jabbar: Led UCLA to three consecutive national titles (1967-69); AP All-America first team three years in a row (1967-69); averaged 26.4 PPG and 15.5 RPG in three seasons at UCLA; AP player of the year in 1967, 1969

C Bill Walton: Led UCLA to national titles in 1972 and 1973; AP All-America three consecutive seasons (1972-74); averaged 20.3 PPG and 15.7 RPG in three years at UCLA

Coach: John Wooden (10 national championships, NCAA record)


Jordan & Co. aren’t losing to many teams on this list.

G Phil Ford: Won the Wooden Award (1978); averaged 18.6 PPG and 6.1 APG in four years at North Carolina; AP All-America first team in 1977 and 1978; led team to 1977 national title game

G Michael Jordan: Won the Wooden Award (1984); hit game winner in 1982 national title game vs. Georgetown; averaged 17.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 1.7 SPG in three seasons at North Carolina; AP America first team in 1983 and 1984

PPG and 6.3 RPG for 1982 national title team; 1982 NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player

G Jerry Stackhouse: AP All-America first team (1995); averaged 19.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 1.7 BPG in 1994-95; led team to the Final Four in 1995

F James Worthy: AP All-America second team (1982); averaged 15.6

F Tyler Hansbrough: Won the Wooden Award (2008); AP All-America first team in 2008 and 2009; led North Carolina to national championship in 2009; averaged 20.2 PPG and 8.6 RPG in four years at North Carolina

Coach: Dean Smith (won national titles in 1982 and 1993)


Chamberlain and Manning with a bunch of All-Americans doesn’t seem fair.

G Jacque Vaughn: AP All-America second team (1996, 1997); averaged 9.6 PPG, 6.4 APG, 38% clip from beyond the arc in four years at Kansas

F Paul Pierce: AP All-America first team (1998); averaged 20.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG in 1997-98; Big 12 tournament MVP in 1997 and 1998

F Nick Collison: AP All-America first team (2003); Big 12 Player of the Year (2012); led team to national title game (2003); averaged 18.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.9 BPG in 2002-03

F Danny Manning: Won the Wooden Award (1988); led team to national 1988 national championship, averaged 24.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.9 BPG in 1987-88

C Wilt Chamberlain: AP All-America first team (1957, 1958); Most Outstanding Player (1957 NCAA tournament); averaged 29.9 PPG, 18.3 RPG in two years at Kansas, led team to national title game (1957)

Coach: Phog Allen (three national titles, inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959)


The scary part is that multiple players on this list actually played together.

G Jay Williams: Won the Wooden Award (2002); AP All-America first team (2001, 2002); led Duke to the national championship in 2001; averaged 19.3 PPG, 6.0 APG, 39% from beyond the arc

G/F Grant Hill: AP All-America first team (1994); key player on national title teams in 1991, 1992; ACC player of the year in 1994; averaged 14.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.6 APG in four seasons at Duke

F Shane Battier: Won the Wooden Award (2001); averaged 19.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 42% from 3 for 2001 national title team; Most Outstanding Player in 2001 NCAA tournament

F Christian Laettner: Won the Wooden Award (1992); led Duke to 1991 and 1992 national titles; averaged 16.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG in four years at Duke

F Zion Williamson: Won the Wooden Award (2019); led team to the Elite Eight in 2019; averaged 22.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.1 SPG, 1.8 BPG

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski (five national championships in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015)


Imagine if both Hayes and Olajuwon had been in the same frontcourt?

G Otis Birdsong: AP All-America second team (1977); averaged 24.4 PPG in four years at Houston; Southwest Conference player of the year (1977)

G Gary Phillips: Led team to the Sweet Sixteen (1961); averaged 18.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG in three years at Houston

G/F Clyde Drexler: AP All-America second team (1983); Southwest Conference Player of the Year (1983); averaged 14.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 3.2 APG in three years at Houston

F/C Elvin Hayes: AP All-America first team (1967, 1968); averaged 31.0 PPG, 17.2 RPG in two years at Houston; led team to Final Four in 1967 and 1968

C Hakeem Olajuwon: AP All-America first team (1983-84); 1983 NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player; led Houston to national title game in 1983 and 1984; averaged 13.3 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 4.5 BPG in three years at Houston

Coach: Guy Lewis (coached team in 1983, 1984 national title games)


Russell on a squad with two members of the Fab Five does not seem like fun for opposing teams.

G Trey Burke: Won the Wooden Award (2013); led Michigan to the national title game in 2013; AP All-America first team (2013); averaged 16.9 PPG and 5.7 APG in two seasons at Michigan

G Jalen Rose: AP All-America second team (1994); key member of team that reached the national title game in 1992 and 1993; averaged 17.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.9 APG in three seasons at Michigan

F Glen Rice: AP All-America second team (1989); led Michigan to its only national title in 1989; averaged 18.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 48% from beyond the arc in four years at Michigan

F Cazzie Russell: AP All-America first team (1965, 1966); led Michigan to first national title game in 1965; averaged 27.1 PPG and 8.5 RPG in three seasons at Michigan

F Chris Webber: AP All-America first team (1993); led Michigan to the national title game in 1992 and 1993; averaged 17.4 PPG, 10.0 RPG and 2.5 BPG in two seasons at Michigan

Coach: Steve Fisher (won the 1989 national title as interim coach and recruited the Fab Five)


The two Elliotts anchor this strong all-time lineup

G Mike Bibby: Led team to 1997 national championship; AP All-America first team (1998); averaged 17.2 PPG, 5.7 APG, 39% from 3 in 1997-98

G Damon Stoudamire: AP All-America first team (1995), led team to Final Four in 1994; 1995 Pac-12 player of the year; averaged 22.8 PPG, 7.3 APG, 46% from 3

F Sean Elliott: Won the Wooden Award (1989); AP-All America first team (1988, 1989); led team to 1988 Final Four; averaged 22.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 44% from beyond the arc in 1988-89

F Derrick Williams: AP All-America second team (2011); averaged 17.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG in two years at Arizona; Pac-10 (now Pac-12) Player of the Year (2011)

F Bob Elliott: Let team to first Elite Eight in 1976; his 23.3 PPG in 1974-75 is fifth all-time in school history

Coach: Lute Olson (1997 national championship)


That Brunson-Kittles pairing would have been a problem for any team in the country in any season.

G Jalen Brunson: Won the Wooden Award (2018); led team to the 2018 national championship; averaged 18.9 PPG, 41% from 3 in 2017-18; averaged 9.6 PPG, 38% from 3 for the 2016 national championship team

G Kerry Kittles: AP All-America first team (1996); AP All-America second team (1995); averaged 18.4 PPG and 39% from 3 in four years at Villanova; 1995 Big East player of the year

F Paul Arizin: AP All-America first team (1950); led team to Elite Eight (1949); averaged 25.3 PPG in 1949-50

F Howard Porter: AP All-America third team (1969, 1971); led team to 1971 national title game; averaged 22.8 PPG, 14.9 RPG in three seasons at Villanova

F Ed Pinckney: 1985 Most Outstanding Player in NCAA tournament; led team to 1985 national championship; all-Big East first team from 1983-1985; 14.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.0 BPG

Coach: Jay Wright (two national championships in 2016, 2018)


With Robinson, Mount and Edwards, this team is stacked with scorers.

G Carsen Edwards: AP All-America second team (2019); averaged 34.8 PPG in 2019 NCAA tournament and led team to the Elite Eight; all-Big Ten first team (2018, 2019)

G Rick Mount: AP All-America first team (1969, 1970); averaged 32.3 PPG in three seasons at Purdue; led team to the national title game in 1969

G Jaden Ivey: One of the most talented players in school history; projected top-five 2022 draft pick; averaging 17.6 PPG and led team to this year’s Sweet 16

F Glenn Robinson: Won the Wooden Award (1994); AP All-America first team (1994); averaged 27.5 PPG and 9.7 RPG in two seasons at Purdue; led team to the Elite Eight in 1994

C Joe Barry Carroll: AP All-America first team (1980); led team to Final Four in 1980; averaged 17.7 PPG, 9.3 RPG and 2.8 BPG in four seasons at Purdue

Coach: Gene Keady (seven-time Big Ten coach of the year)


This crew, like most Arkansas teams, would be a tough opponent.

G Sidney Moncrief: AP All-America first team (1979); averaged 16.9 PPG and 8.3 RPG in four seasons at Arkansas; Southwest Conference player of the year (1979); led team to Final Four (1978)

G Todd Day: AP All-America second team (1991); averaged 19.5 PPG for Final Four team in 1990; Southwest Conference player of the year (1991)

F Joe Johnson: SEC freshman of the year (2000); averaged 15.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 41% from 3 in two seasons at Arkansas

F Corliss Williamson: AP All-America second team (1994, 1995); led the team to the 1994 national title; 1995 SEC player of the year; averaged 19.0 PPG and 7.1 RPG in three years at Arkansas

C Joe Kleine: Averaged 18.1 PPG and 8.3 RPG in three years at Arkansas (1982-85)

Coach: Nolan Richardson (coached team to 1994 national title)


Few has a team led by a pair of guards who could have competed in any era.

G Jalen Suggs: AP All-America second team (2021); 14.4 PPG, 4.5 APG, 5.3 RPG; led team to national championship game (2021)

G John Stockton: West Coast Athletic Conference (now the WCC) Player of the Year (1984); 20.9 PPG, 7.2 APG, 3.9 SPG

G Dan Dickau: AP All-America first team (2002); averaged 20.1 PPG, 5.3 APG, 46% from 3 in two years at Gonzaga

F Adam Morrison: Led team to Sweet 16 in 2006; 28.1 PPG, 43% from the 3-point line in 2005-06; AP All-America first team (2006)

F Drew Timme: AP All-America second team (2021); key player on national runner-up team (2021); through three seasons, is averaging 15.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 64% from inside the arc

Coach: Mark Few (two national title game appearances in 2017, 2021)


DiGregorio, Walker and Dunn together would have been unstoppable.

G Ernie DiGregorio: AP All-America first team (1973); averaged 20.5 PPG, 7.7 APG, 81% from the free throw line; led team to the Final Four in 1973

G Jimmy Walker: AP All-America first team (1967); led team to the Elite Eight in 1965; averaged 25.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.3 APG in three years at Providence

G Kris Dunn: AP All-America second team (2016); led team to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 2014 to ’16; averaged 16.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.2 APG, 2.5 SPG

F Ryan Gomes: AP All-America first team (2004); all-Big East first team (2004, 2005); averaged 18.4 PPG and 8.9 RPG in four years at Providence

F Marvin Barnes: AP All-America first team (1974); led team to the 1973 Final Four; averaged 20.7 PPG and 17.9 RPG

Coach: Dave Gavitt (led team to Final Four in 1973)


Hoiberg, Niang and Tinsley would create a matchup challenge for any opposing team.

G Jamaal Tinsley: AP All-America second team (2001); star on team that reached the Elite Eight (2000); Big 12 player of the year (2001); averaged 12.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.6 SPG in two seasons at Iowa State

G Jeff Grayer: AP All-America second team (1988); averaged 20.0 PPG in four seasons at Iowa State (1984-88); led team to Sweet Sixteen in 1986

G Fred Hoiberg: Averaged 15.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 1.6 SPG, plus a 40% clip from 3 in four years at Iowa State (1991-95); all-Big Eight (now Big 12) in 1995

F Georges Niang: AP All-America second team (2016); all-Big 12 first team (2015, 2016); averaged 16.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.1 APG, 38% from 3 in four years at Iowa State

F Marcus Fizer: AP All-America first team (2000); led team to the Elite Eight (2000); Big 12 player of the year (2000); Big 12 tournament MVP (2000); averaged 18.9 PPG and 7.4 RPG in three seasons with Iowa State

Coach: Larry Eustachy (coached team to the Elite Eight in 2000)


This team will have one objective: Get the ball to Barry.

G/F Rick Barry: AP All-America first team (1965); averaged 29.8 PPG and 16.5 RPG in three seasons at Miami; led the nation with 37.4 PPG in 1964-65

G Jack McClinton: All-ACC first team (2008, 2009); averaged 17.9 PPG and a 40% clip from 3 in three years at Miami

F James Jones: Averaged 16.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 40% from 3 in 2002-03; all-Big East third team (2002)

F Tim James: AP All-America third team (1999); Big East player of the year (1999); averaged 18.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 2.2 BPG in 1998-99

C Tito Horford: Averaged 14.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.3 BPG (1986-88)

Coach: Jim Larrañaga (AP coach of the year in 2013)


Culver is one of the youngest players on our all-time list, but he deserves his spot.

G Keenan Evans: AP All-America third team (2018); averaged 17.6 PPG in 2017-18; all-Big 12 first team (2018); averaged 17.6 PPG in 2017-18

G Andre Emmett: AP All-America second team (2004); averaged 17.6 PPG and 6.0 RPG in four years at Texas Tech

F Jarrett Culver: AP All-America second team (2019); led team to the Final Four in 2019; averaged 18.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 3.7 APG in 2018-19

F Darvin Ham: Led team to 1996 NCAA tournament; averaged 9.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 1995-96

C Tony Battie: All-Big 12 first team (1997); averaged 18.8 PPG, 11.8 RPG and 2.5 BPG in 1996-97

Coach: Chris Beard (led program to its only Final Four appearance in 2019)


Not the strongest group on our list, but Holloway has done more with less.

G Keydren Clark: Averaged 25.9 PPG in four seasons at Saint Peter’s; 2006 MAAC player of the year

G Harry Laurie: Averaged 16.5 PPG and 8.1 RPG in two seasons at Saint Peter’s (1966-68)

F Elnardo Webster: Averaged 24.5 PPG and 14.1 RPG in two seasons (1967-69) at Saint Peter’s

F Rich Rinaldi: Averaged 21.2 PPG in three seasons for Saint Peter’s (1969-71)

F KC Ndefo: Averaging 10.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 2.8 BPG for first team in program history to reach Sweet 16; shot 50% from 2 in league play in 2021-22

Coach: Shaheen Holloway (coached team to its first Sweet 16 appearance this year)

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