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The Siemens National Association of Basketball Coaches Trophy

Infographic of Siemens national association of basketball trophy

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Every spring, the college basketball world comes together for its “Big Dance.”  The NCAA’s March Madness is the crowning event of an arduous season, culminating with the presentation of the Siemens National Association of Basketball Coaches Trophy.  A glass replica of the game ball, it is awarded the morning following the championship game as a far more stunning centerpiece compared to the standard NCAA plaque handed over the night before.  After two decades in existence, it has become the main attraction for coaches and players, though knowing you are the best team in America is right up there with it.

History

The first NCAA tournament was held in 1939 and, for sixty-plus years, the winners were given a traditional plaque common to the champions of all sports under the NCAA’s jurisdiction.  The classic wooden design, a simple rectangle supported by triangular pillars with golden plates denoting the sport and year won, seemed a bit too plain for March Madness.  As the centerpiece of the organization’s dozens of championships, and with an international audience receiving the broadcast, in stepped the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) to create a trophy with a little bit more style.

When the Sears-sponsored trophy was first presented after the 1994 Final Four, its elegant design emphasized the special nature of the tournament itself – every year, March Madness captures the attention of American sports fans and casual observers alike.  A standalone crystal basketball that is approximately regulation size sits atop a slender glass pillar with a wide black pedestal – the stand itself acts as a sort of accompaniment thanks to the intricate pattern of rectangles along the base and the upward sweep of the neck.  A new trophy is manufactured before each season, touring the country before arriving at the site of the NCAA’s championship on the last weekend in March.

Officially, the Siemens NABC Trophy is given to the top-ranked team in the final coaches’ poll of the year and could be presented to a squad other than the winner of the NCAA’s last game, though it never has.  First awarded to the players and coaches in a late-night ceremony, it has been presented to the winning head coach at a press conference the following morning since 2001.

Best Teams

Kentucky (1996)

Filled with a host of future NBA professionals, this collection of Wildcats stormed into the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey with Rick Pitino at the helm.  Led by an impressive run of hot shooting from Kentucky guard Tony Delk, the squad won each of its first four games by more than 20 points.  The closest any team came was 7, the margin in the semifinal against Massachussetts.  When the championship game arrived against Syracuse, there was little doubt who would come out on top – possibly the most talented team in the tournament’s history.  Much of the squad would return to the championship game the next year, with some winning a second title the following season, in 1998.

North Carolina (2005)

All year long, the Tar Heels were the presumptive favorite for the Siemens NABC Trophy.  Only Illinois, their opponent in the national title game, could make a claim for the best team in America after suffering only two defeats all season.  When the two teams met at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, the Illini opened up a large halftime lead.  North Carolina, thanks to superior talent and a streak of three pointers, quickly evened up the score.  In a contest that was tight all the way to the wire, UNC came out on top 75-70, giving head coach Roy Williams his first national title after two previous tries and capping a tremendous two-year turnaround from a 19-16 season in 2002-03.

Florida (2006-07)

It is unlikely the NCAA tournament will ever see a team quite like this one ever again.  Sweeping in from nowhere to grab the 2006 title, the Gators featured a trio of big, relentless players in the frontcourt that wore teams down through effort and tenacity.  When the entire team returned for the following season, the national title picture focused on them – and juniors Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Cory Brewer and Taurean Green delivered for Head Coach Billy Donovan.  The difficulty of being the favorite is often too much to bear for the defending champ, but this group handled it with aplomb.  (They are also noteworthy for creating a replica of the Siemens NABC Trophy and “dropping the ball” during a fan event as a means of signifying they were moving on from the previous victory.)

Winners

Connecticut (3; 1999, 2004, 2011)

Duke (2; 2001, 2010)

North Carolina (2; 2005, 2009)

Florida (2; 2006, 2007)

Kentucky (2; 1996, 1998)

Kansas (1; 2008)

Syracuse (1; 2003)

Maryland (1; 2002)

Michigan State (1; 2000)

Arizona (1; 1997)

UCLA (1; 1995)

Arkansas (1; 1994)