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Monday, December 23, 2002
Updated: December 24, 3:20 PM ET
Best teams of 2002


1. Anaheim Angels
From 41 games out of first in 2001 to World Series Champs in 2002. Does it get any better?

Angels celebration
The Angels beat the Giants in a thrilling seven-game World Series.
2. Detroit Red Wings
Are they the Yankees of the NHL? The Red Wings hoisted their third Stanley Cup in six years, thanks to nine future Hall of Famers and an owner willing to spend in order to win. Mike Ilitch opened his checkbook to secure Dominik Hasek ($8 million), Luc Robitaille ($4 million) and Brett Hull ($9 million over two years), and Detroit fans fully enjoyed what the biggest payroll in the NHL can buy.

3. New England Patriots
When the Pats beat the Raiders in the snow last January and then won the AFC crown, you just knew Vince Lombardi was up there somewhere, watching and smiling. Old school. Then they declined to be introduced as individuals before the Super Bowl, opting to take the field as a team. Old school. Then they beat the Rams in the big game with a field goal as time expired in the Super Bowl, winning 20-17. Old school. Tom Brady? Modest, great when it counted. Old school.

4. U.S. Men's World Cup soccer team
Whoda thunk it? All the way to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. After 30 years of premature predictions, the Americans are suddenly a force in International soccer.

5. UConn Huskies women's basketball
The Huskies, led by All-Americans Sue Bird, Swin Cash, and Diana Taurisi, went 33-0 during the regular season. Then, in the NCAA Tourney, they won their games by an average margin of victory of 27 points, capping it off with an 82-70 finals win over Oklahoma. End result: 39-0, national champs in increasingly competitive women's hoops play.

The Year in Review: Listmania!
SportsNation has compiled our rankings of the best and worst of 2002. Check out our top 10 lists and then voice your opinion by voting in the polls.

Most memorable moment
Athlete of the Year
Best moves
Worst moves
Feuds of the year
Rookies of the year
Ugliest moments
Teams of the year
Flops of the year Fantasy player of the year

6. Miami Hurricanes
They began 2002 by blowing out Nebraska, 37-14, in the Rose Bowl, capturing their fifth national title in 19 years. Then, in April, five from that squad were taken in the first round of the NFL draft. Did it slow the Hurricanes down? No. This season they went 12-0, ran their winning streak to 34, and are headed for the Fiesta Bowl, favorites for a second consecutive national title.

7. The Carolina Hurricanes
One of the least likely teams to make it to the Stanley Cup finals in NHL history -- in fact, if they had been in the Western Conference, they wouldn't have even made the playoffs. But the former Hartford Whalers were a good team in the regular season, compiling 91 points with a 35-26-16-5 record. Led by 39-year-old captain Ron Francis, who lived through all the lean years, the team managed to win three playoff series on the way to facing the Red Wings, in the process bringing hockey fever to Raleigh, N.C.

8. Minnesota Twins
Hey, maybe Bud's on to something with this contraction thing. Seemed to be a great motivator. The Twins did nothing less than blow out their division, improving their record by nine wins, winning the AL Central by 13 1/2 games over the White Sox and then upsetting Oakland in the playoffs. Meanwhile, attendance at the Metrodome came close to the 2 million mark, as high as it's been since 1993.

9. Los Angeles Lakers
Can Shaq, Kobe, and Phil get along? It didn't matter in the NBA playoffs, because once the clock started ticking, these guys came together and won their third title in a row. We're not big fans of overdogs in any sport, but it's pretty hard to argue with a three-peat.

10. Canada's Olympic hockey teams
Canada hadn't won gold in hockey since the 1952 Olympics, but the men's team beat the U.S. men, 5-2, leaving no doubt they were the best squad on the ice in Salt Lake. Canada's women also beat the U.S. in the final, 3-2, completing an undefeated Olympic run.