Unranked at the beginning of the 1996 season the Xavier Musketeers went 23-6,
UConn entered the 1998-1999 season ranked #2 in the preseason polls. Thanks to a 19 game win streak to start the season the Huskies spent 10 consecutive weeks at #1 and never fell out of the Top 3.
A Big East regular season championship and Big East Tournament championship secured Connecticut a #1 seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament. After wins against Texas- San Antonio, New Mexico and Iowa the Huskies ran up against a hungry upstart Gonzaga team with a Final Four berth on the line. UConn won a nail biter 67-62 giving the school it's first Final Four appearance.
After dispatching Michael Redd, Scoonie Penn and the Ohio State Buckeyes in one of the semi final games, the Huskies were setup for a showdown with the loaded #1 ranked Duke Blue Devils.
In what was dubbed the "Duke Invitational" by media outlets UConn felt the disrespect and used it as motivation. Tired of hearing about how great Duke was, Ricky Moore turned the hotel TV off, looked at his teammates and said, "You know what you have to do."
The rest is history. UConn 77- Duke 74. Behind Rip Hamilton's 27 points and Khalid El-Amin's steady floor play the Huskies shocked the world and became the National Champs.
"Rip was the best player on the floor and he showed it. Rip also had the right teammates around him to let him shine." -El-Amin, UConn Guard
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