March 31, 1997: Arizona Basketball knocks off Kentucky to win the NCAA Championship

Lute Olson
Lute Olson / Brian Bahr/GettyImages
4 of 5

Tougher sledding

The Sweet Sixteen has become a place where many a formidable Arizona Basketball squad bows out of March Madness, but not in 1997. This year, the opponent was Big 12 champion and No. 1 seed Kansas, led by Jayhawks and North Carolina legend Roy Williams. The Jayhawks amassed a record to that point of 34-1 (18-1 in Big 12), with the sole loss coming to Mizzou. Arizona narrowly outlasted Kansas 85-82 and secured the first of three wins over No. 1 seeds on the way to a title.

The Elite Eight matched Arizona up with one of the more sneaky-dangerous teams in the bracket: No. 10 Providence. The Friars rallied to make the Big East championship game despite a 19-10 (10-8 in Big East) record. On the way to facing Arizona, Providence had already downed No. 2 seed Duke and slaughtered No. 7 seed Marquette, so they were tasting blood. They found blood with Arizona, but not that of Wildcats as Arizona dispatched them with a 96-92 victory.