The men's basketball team has been one of the nation's most successful programs since Lute Olson was hired as head coach in 1983, and is still known as a national powerhouse in Division I men's basketball. Between 1985 and 2009, the team reached the NCAA Tournament 25 consecutive years, which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history, 2nd only to North Carolina's record of 27 consecutive appearances from 1975 to 2001. The Wildcats have reached the Final Four of the NCAA tournament in 1988, 1994, 1997, and 2001. In 1997, Arizona defeated the University of Kentucky, the defending national champions, to win the NCAA National Championship (NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship) by a score of 84–79 in overtime; Arizona's first national championship victory. The 1997 championship team became the first and only in NCAA history to defeat three number-one seeds en route to a national title (Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky—the North Carolina game being the final game for longtime UNC head coach Dean Smith). Point guard Miles Simon was chosen as 1997 Final Four MVP (Simon was also an assistant coach under Olson from 2005 to 2008). The Cats also boast the third highest winning percentage in the nation over the last twenty years. Arizona has won a total of 21 conference championships in its programs history. Since the institution of the two-round draft system in 1989 by the NBA, no school has had more draft picks than Arizona.
1997 NCAA Tournament Champions
Arizona Athletics Communications Services Department
McKale Memorial Center
1 National Championship Dr., Room 106
P.O. Box 210096 #106
Tucson, AZ 85721