Top 10 Teams of 2016

  1. Team USA – I could have singled out some of USA’s individual teams from the Olympics. The Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams were both undefeated and awesome throughout the tournament. The Women’s gymnastics team captured Gold and our hearts. Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, and the other relay swimmers dominated in the pool as well. Instead of dividing up these teams, I put them all together on Team USA (that is the whole point, right?). Team USA won 121 medals, including 46 golds, to dominate the Rio Olympics and show the world who is boss once again.

  1. Villanova Wildcats – Nova was not an all-time great team, but that shot man. That. Shot. Onions. Ice in his veins. Dagger. Puts it in. <Insert broadcaster hyperbole here>. Villanova was a deserving champion. They came into the tournament as a #2 seed and beat #1 seed Kansas in the Elite Eight, Player of the Year Buddy Hield and Oklahoma in the Final Four, and then the last #1 seed standing North Carolina in the championship. And once again, that shot.
  1. Denver Broncos – The Broncos were tough to rank. On one hand, their offense was pretty garbage in the playoffs last year and haven’t been anything special in the 2016 season. On the other hand, they had an all time great defense and beat Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, and Cam Newton on their way to the Lombardi Trophy. It is tough to win the Super Bowl and the Broncos need to be given credit for that. They were probably not the best team, but they will always be Super Bowl champions.
  1. Alabama Crimson Tide – Alabama started the 2016 calendar year off by winning the National Championship over Clemson. After the game, Nick Saban even smiled for a millisecond before getting back on the recruiting trail. So far this season, Bama is undefeated and once again in prime position to win the National Championship. Business as usual in Tuscaloosa. Just another year in the Alabama Dynasty.
  1. Pittsburgh Penguins – A personal favorite of my own, the Penguins made a great run through the playoffs (including dominating the regular season champion Caps) and ended up hoisting their fourth Stanley Cup since 1991. Sidney Crosby is the best hockey player in the world and was a well deserved playoff MVP. This team had a great combination of stars (Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel) and role players who did the dirty work. On the back end of 2016, they haven’t been too shabby either, currently sitting at the top of their division this season.
  1. UCONN Huskies – A 38-0 record and National Champions (for the 4th straight year). Quite possibly the greatest college basketball dynasty that we will ever seen. The Huskies keep rolling (already 9-0 and ranked #1 this season). Geno Auriemma is a fantastic coach and continually frustrates the rest of the country every year. It’s not fun for everyone else to only fight for second.
  1. Leicester City – Make sure to read Jordan’s piece from earlier this year to truly put this season into perspective. Long story short, Leicester City started the season as 5000-1 shots to win the Premier League. Leicester City ended up winning the Premier League for the first time ever. A true cinderella story. The Foxes might have been the most unexpected champion on this list, but their team as a whole wasn’t anything super special. They just found ways to win low scoring games and kept getting points. Not a bad path to success. They have stumbled a bit to start this Premier League season though, maybe regressing to the mean of their talent.
  1. Golden State Warriors – You might be saying “Hold on a minute. Wait. Golden State choked away the Finals. They didn’t even win!” How can you put them above some all time dynasties (UCONN, Alabama) and an unbelievable cinderella (Leicester City)?”. Fair arguments, but Golden State was the greatest regular season team that I’ve ever witnessed and they took their sport to a new level. Led by Steph Curry, the Warriors revolutionized basketball and they were THE story for the NBA season. They broke the Bulls record for wins in a season and went an unbelieveable 73-9. The Dubs also made an amazing 3-1 comeback against the Thunder in the Conference Finals (then stole their best player) and looked poised to repeat as Champions. They went up 3-1 and their coronation was set for Game 5 in Cleveland. Then of course…
  1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Whoops. This wasn’t supposed to be Cleveland’s year (and I mean is any year supposed to be Cleveland’s year?), but LeBron James had something to say about that. Cleveland came back in the NBA Finals to win Games 5, 6, and 7 to bring the city its first championship in generations. From the block to the shot, the Cavs made the big plays when it mattered and were somehow the better team than the all time greatest regular season team ever. An iconic performance in an unforgettable Finals. What could possibly top that?
  1. Chicago Cubs – How about breaking an 108 year old curse? 2016 was the year of the Chicago Cubs. They were the best team in the MLB regular season. They avoided choking in the NLDS and NLCS. Then, they made an epic 3-1 comeback (sound familiar Cavs fans?) against the Cleveland Indians to win their first World Series since 1908! Theo Epstein and the front office assembled the best roster in baseball, and the team executed perfectly and gave their loyal fans the gift of a lifetime. Absolutely amazing. Bravo Cubs, Bravo.

-Nick Bair

Photo Credit: ABC News

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