Friday, April 01, 2005

Compilation List - Top 25 Teams Without A Title

In conjunction with my list of the 25 greatest teams, here is a list of the 25 best teams who failed to win a national title during the NCAA Tournament era.

1.) 1991 UNLV -- Lost in Final Four.
The defending NCAA champs, who had won the 1990 title game by the largest margin ever and hadn't been beaten since midway through the previous season, still remain as the last team to enter the tournament undefeated (30-0). The Rebels 45-game winning streak, before losing in the 1991 national semifinal, still remains as the fourth longest ever, and their 26.7 average margin of victory is fifth best ever, and the most since 1972. UNLV's 1991 squad was the first ever to feature four active players with 1,500 career points each -- consensus national Player of the Year Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Anderson Hunt and Greg Anthony. In the 1991 Final Four, UNLV was upset by Duke -- the same team which had been blown away by the Rebels in the previous year's title game.

2.) 1961, 1962 Ohio State -- Lost in Championship games (1961 & 62)
After winning the 1960 title with a lineup consisting of three sophomores, a junior and a lone senior, Ohio State got back to the title game in 1961 and 1962, but lost to state rival Cincinnati both times. The 1961 team entered the tournament 24-0, and the 1962 team entered the following year's tournament 23-1, both times ranked number one. As the defending champion in 1961, the Buckeyes were the nation's fifth highest scoring team (85 ppg), second in free throw percentage (.753) and first in field goal percentage (.498). Before losing to Cincinnati once again in the finals, the 1962 team won its first three tournament games by an average of 15.3 points. Jerry Lucas, a three-time All-American and two-time national Player of the Year, was joined by John Havlicek and Mel Nowell on both teams.

3.) 1999 Duke -- Lost in championship game.
Over the previous 15 years, since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, no other team had come close to the success that Duke had reached. The Blue Devils were playing in their eighth Final Four during that span, while no one else had seen more than five. The 1999 squad, however, was widely considered to be Coach K's best ever. Entering the tournament with a 32-1 record and a 24.7 average margin of victory during the season, Duke won its first five tournament games by an average of 25.6 points. Before the stunning upset loss to Connecticut in the title game, that 25.6 average margin of victory was the most in tournanent history. Four players from the 1999 team, including Elton Brand, the national Player of the Year, were selected in the first round of the following year's NBA draft.

4.) 1973 North Carolina State -- Ineligible for tournament.
The 1973 Wolfpack team averaged 93 ppg, led the nation in win margin (21.8 ppg), and posted a 27-0 record, but was ineligible for postseason play because of NCAA probation. David Thompson, a two-time national Player of the Year, and All-American Tom Burleson, led NC State to a 30-1 record the following season, losing only to seven-time defending champion UCLA. The Wolfpack avenged its only loss during the two-year period by defeating UCLA in the 1974 Final Four and winning the title.

5.) 1975 Indiana -- Lost in regional finals.
Indiana posted a 29-0 record during the 1975 season and entered the NCAA Tournament ranked number one, with an average win margin of 22.1 ppg. With consensus All-American Scott May injured and limited to only a few minutes during the entire tournament, Kentucky ended the Hoosier's 1975 season, defeating IU 92-90 in the Mideast regional final. But the Hoosiers did capture the 1976 title, becoming the last team to post an undefeated record. During the two-year period of 1975 and 1976, Indiana had a record of 63-1, without a single regular season loss. All five starters were selected in the NBA draft.

6.)1954 Kentucky -- Refused tournament invitation.
From 1948-51, Kentucky won three national titles, and finished the 1952 season ranked number one before losing in the East regional final. Because of the now-infamous point-shaving scandals of the early-1950s, UK was forced to boycott its entire 1953 schedule. When the Wildcats resumed play in 1954, they posted a 25-0 record, but refused an invitation to the NCAA Tournament when it was ruled that three post-graduate players would be ineligible. La Salle, the eventual champion in 1954, lost to Kentucky by 13 points earlier in the season.

7.) 1974 UCLA -- Lost in Final Four.
Led by a pair of consensus All-Americans, Bill Walton --the three-time national Player of the Year -- and senior forward Keith Wilkes, The Bruins entered the 1974 tournament as the seven-time defending champion, with a 23-3 record and a 19.6 average margin of victory. During the season, UCLA saw its NCAA-record 88-game winning streak snapped, as well as its record streak of 50 consecutive conference wins, but still managed to defeat NC State, the eventual NCAA champion, by 18 points. The Walton gang had another record win streak snapped when NC State avenged its earlier loss to UCLA in the Final Four, ending the Bruins string of 38 consecutive tourney wins.

8.) 1968 Houston -- Lost in Final Four.
Led by Elvin Hayes, the national Player of the Year, and Don Chaney, the Cougars snapped UCLA's 47-game win streak during the regular season and posted a 28-0 record entering the tournament. Houston led the nation in scoring (97.8 ppg) and rebounding, and also had a 25.3 average margin of victory. UCLA won the anticipated rematch, defeating Houston in the Final Four.

9.) 1985 Georgetown -- Lost in championship game.
The Hoyas, led by All-American Patrick Ewing, won the 1984 title with a lineup consisting almost entirely of underclassmen. Ewing earned national Player of the Year honors in 1985, leading what is considered one of the best defensive teams ever. Georgetown, 30-2 before the tourney, led the nation in scoring margin, rebounding margin and field goal percentage defense. In what remains as one of the biggest upsets ever, conference-rival Villanova defeated the Hoyas in the title game, despite losing both head-to-head games during the season.

10.) 1959, 1960 Cincinnati -- Lost in Final Four (1959 & 1960)
Oscar Robertson, perhaps the greatest all around college player ever, had led the nation in scoring and been selected as the national Player of the Year in both of his first two seasons, while leading the Bearcats to the 1959 Final Four as a junior. In the 1959 national semifinal, California, the nation's top defensive team, held Robertson to 19 points -- 13 below his average -- and won 64-58. In Robertson's final season, 1960, he was once again the scoring leader and national Player of the Year. Cincinnati entered the tournament ranked number one and the heavy favorite to win, but the Bearcats lost to California in a national semifinal for the second year in a row, with the Big O held well below his scoring average.

11.) 1984 North Carolina -- Lost in regional semifinal.
The 1984 North Carolina team featured two first team All-Americans in Michael Jordan, the national Player of the Year, and Sam Perkins -- both of whom had helped UNC win the 1982 national title. The Tar Heels, 27-2 and ranked number one entering the tournament, were second nationally in win margin (15.3), second in field goal percentage (.543) and second in free throw percentage (.783). Carolina was upset by Indiana in the East regional semifinals, with Jordan fouling out, scoring just 13 points.

12.) 1997 Kansas -- Lost in regional semifinal.
Roy Williams, by 1997, had already taken his squad to a title game and another Final Four as the Kansas coach, but he had also suffered two early exits as a number one seed. It was the 1997 Jayhawk team, however, which was considered to be Williams' best, and one of the best overall in recent memory. Led by All-American candidates Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz and Jaque Vaughn, Kansas entered the tournament as the heavy favorite, ranked number one with a 32-1 record, but was defeated by the eventual champion Arizona in the Sweet 16.

13.) 1983 Houston -- Lost in championship game.
Houston's fabled "Phi Slamma Jamma" team entered the tournament with the nation's best average margin of victory at 17.4 points -- and they had beaten their first four tournament opponents by an average of 12 points. The Cougars, 27-2 before the tournament, carried a 26-game winning streak into the title game against a heavy underdog, NC State. Despite the presence of Hakeem Olajuwon, the only losing player since 1972 to be named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, one of the all-time great upsets (and most memorable moments) resulted as NC State won at the buzzer.

14.) 1957 Kansas -- Lost in championship game.
Wilt Chamberlain was only a sophomore for the 1957 Kansas team, but he averaged 30 points and over 20 rebounds per game by himself. After needing overtime in their first tourney game, the Jayhawks then destroyed their next two opponents, including an 80-56 Final Four win over the two-time defending champ San Francisco. The 24-2 Jayhawks, with the dominance of Chamberlain and the thrashing victory over San Francisco, seemed a shoe-in for the title. But Kansas lost a thrilling triple overtime title game to North Carolina.

15.) 1980-82 DePaul -- Lost in second round (1980, 81 & 82).
In 1979 DePaul reached the Final Four, led by freshman sensation Mark Aguirre. In 1980, Aguirre was joined by another freshman standout, Terry Cummings. The Blue Demons finished the 1980 regular season ranked number one, earning a top seed in the tournament, but lost in their opening game. The following season, DePaul once again finished the regular season top-ranked with a number one seed in the tournament, but became the first team to lose consecutive opening games while ranked number one. In 1982, the Blue Demons entered the tournament ranked number two, but did earn a number one seed for the third year in a row -- and lost in their opening game in just as many years.

16.) 1959 Kansas State -- Lost in regional final.
In 1958 Kansas State had posted a 22-5 record and reached the Final Four before losing to Seattle. In 1959 the Wildcats improved their regular season mark to 24-1 and entered the tournament ranked number one. Despite a number of great teams and talented players in the 1959 field, Kansas State was a favorite to win the title behind the leadership of two-time All American Bob Boozer. After a 32-point first round victory, the Wildcats were upset by Oscar Robertson and Cincinnati in the Midwest regional final.

17.) 1960 California -- Lost in championship game.
As the defending NCAA champion, the Bears lost only once during the regular season and led the nation in defense for the second straight year, holding opponents to an average of only 49.5 points per game. Led by returning All-American Darrall Imhoff, California defeated Cincinnati and Oscar Robertson -- the NCAA scoring leader and Player of the Year -- in the Final Four for the second year in a row. After once again holding Robertson well below his average in the semifinals, the Bears were favored to win another title. However, in the finals, strong offense bested strong defense when a young Ohio State team -- leading the nation in scoring -- won 75-55.

18.) 1974 Notre Dame - Lost in regional semifinal.
The 1974 Notre Dame team will always be remembered as the squad which ended UCLA's NCAA-record 88-game winning streak, but this team already had quite a history of snapping streaks. In the previous season, the Irish ended Marquette's 81-game homecourt win streak, and in 1974 it ended Indiana's 19-game homecourt streak and South Carolina's 34-game homecourt streak. With All-American John Shumate and teammates Adrian Dantley and Gary Brokaw, Notre Dame led the nation in field goal percentage while posting a 25-2 regular season record. They were defeated by Michigan in the Mideast regional semifinal.

19.) 1971 Marquette -- Lost in regional semifinal.
Only two teams, Pennsylvania and Marquette, entered the 1971 NCAA Tournament undefeated, but neither reached the Final Four. Al McGuire's 1971 Marquette team -- the defending NIT champion -- began the tournament with a 39-game winning streak, and an 18.9 average margin of victory. Allowing opponents only 62.8 points per game, the Warriors were led by All-American guard Dean Meminger and center Jim Chones. Marquette was defeated by Ohio State in the second round.

20.) 1974 Maryland -- Didn't play in tournament.
Hailed by many as possibly the greatest team to not play in the NCAA Tournament, the 1974 Terps failed to win the ACC tournament, and thus failed to receive a NCAA invitation. The eventual NCAA champs NC State defeated Maryland 103-100 in the ACC tournament final, which is widely considered to be one of the greatest games ever. At the time, only conference champions received NCAA Tournament bids -- a rule which changed the following season. The Terps, 23-5, were led by a trio of All-American candidates and future pro stars -- John Lucas, Len Elmore and Tom McMillen.

21.) 1986 Duke -- Lost in championship game.
The 1986 Duke team was only the second ever to feature three active players with over 1,500 career points -- national Player of the year Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie and David Henderson. This team also broke the record for the most wins in a single season, which had stood for nearly 40 years. Entering the tournament 32-2, top-ranked and riding a 21-game winning streak, the Blue Devils, in Mike Krzyzewski's first of nine Final Four appearances, were a heavy favorite to beat Louisville in the title game, but lost to a team who had won 16 straight games itself.

22.) 1952 Kentucky -- Lost in regional finals.
Having won three of the four previous tournaments, and having just won its ninth consecutive Southeastern Conference title, number one-ranked Kentucky was once again the heavy favorite to repeat. Led by All American Cliff Hagan, the 1952 Wildcats, 28-2 before the tourney, became the first team to average more than 80 points during a season. UK's season, and 23-game winning streak, was ended when eventual runner up St. John's defeated the Wildcats 64-57 in the East Regional final. Earlier in the season, Kentucky defeated St. John's by 41 points in Lexington.

23.) 1985 St Johns -- Lost in Final Four.
The 1985 St. John's team was Lou Carneseca's only Final Four team during his 24-year coaching career. This team, 27-3 before the tournament, featured both the 1985 and 1986 national Players of the Year in Chris Mullin and Walter Berry. St. John's was defeated by defending champion Georgetown in the Final Four. Three of the Redmen's four total losses came against conference rival Georgetown, but they defeated the eventual champion Villanova three times during the season. Despite being held to only eight points in the national semifinal, Mullin was the tournament's leading scorer.

24.) 1959 West Virginia -- Lost in championship game.
After its first three NCAA Tournament appearances, 1955-57, all resulted in first round losses, West Virginia busted onto the college basketball scene in 1958 when it ended the regular season ranked number one with a 26-1 record. Despite ending North Carolina's 37-game winning streak and defeating the eventual champion Kentucky during the season, the Mountaineers 1958 season ended with yet another first round loss. In 1959, behind two-time All American Jerry West, WVU was the nation's second best scoring team, averaging 85 points per game. The Mountaineers finally moved past the first round and advanced all the way to the title game, but were defeated by California in the final seconds.

25.) 1963 Cincinnati -- Lost in championship game.
The 1963 Bearcats, playing in their fifth consecutive Final Four, came within four seconds of becoming the first team to win three straight NCAA titles. Led by consensus All Americans Ron Bonham and Tom Thacker, the two-time defending champion Cincinnati entered the tournament ranked number one, with a 23-1 record. Like the 1960 title game between Ohio State and California, the 1963 title game also featured the nation's highest scoring team (Loyola-Illinois, 91.8 ppg) against the nation's top defensive team, Cincinnati (52.9 ppg allowed). Despite leading by 15 points in the second half, the Bearcats were upset by Loyola, 60-58 in overtime, handing coach Ed Jucker his first, and only, NCAA Tournament loss in 12 career games.


1970 Kentucky -- Lost in regional final.
1959 North Carolina State -- Ineligible for tournament
1959 Mississippi State -- refused tournament invitation.
1997 Kentucky -- Lost in championship game.
1966 Kentucky -- Lost in championship game.
1976 Marquette - Lost in regional final.
1970 St. Bonaventure -- Lost in Final Four.
2002 Duke -- Lost in regional semifinal.
1969 La Salle -- Ineligible for tournament.
1987 UNLV -- Lost in Final Four.