NCAA Tournament: Top 10 Teams NOT to win in past decade

Sat, 04/11/2009 - 9:51pm
The beauty of the NCAA Tournament is that the best team doesn't always win. There are no "playoffs." There is no seven-game series. In one game--40 minutes--anyone can beat anyone. Remember the (34-1) Runnin Rebels of 1991 and the Fab Five Michigan Wolverines of 1993? Any team can advance, and that's why we love it so much. But at the same time, because the Big Dance is a "one bad game and you're out" scenario, the best team doesn't always win it all. With that in mind, let’s look at the top ten teams of the past decade that fell short of the National Championship:

10. 2006 Villanova
Record: 28-5
Lost in Elite Eight to Florida, 75-62
NBA Players: Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Allen Ray, Dante Cunningham*
Notable Players: Mike Nardi, Will Sheridan, Jason Fraser

The Wildcats never topped the polls in 2006, but only fell past No. 5 once the entire regular season and finished No. 6 overall after being ousted by the eventual champ, Florida, in the Elite Eight. Nova lacked a great big man--or any big man for that matter--but the four-guard combination of Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Allen Ray and Mike Nardi was a brutal match-up for any traditional team. They ran into red-hot Florida, but 'Nova was certainly good enough to take home the National Championship that year.

9. 2001 Stanford

Record: 31-3
Lost in Elite Eight to Maryland, 87-83
NBA Players: Jason Collins, Jarron Collins, Casey Jacobsen, Curtis Borchardt
Notable Players: Michael McDonald, Teyo Johnson, Ryan Mendez

After winning 27 of its first 28 games, the Cardinal stumbled a bit down the stretch, losing a regular season game to Arizona and then falling victim to the Terps in the Regional Final. Throughout the entire season, however, its hard to find a team that was more consistent and was as mentally tough as Stanford. The Cardinal's first generation of goony brothers--Jason and Jarron Collins--may have been even more productive than the infamous Lopez twins. That one's still up for debate, though.

8. 2004 Kentucky

Record: 27-5
Lost in Second Round to UAB, 76-75
NBA Players: Chuck Hayes, Keleena Azubuike
Notable Players: Cliff Hawkins, Gerald Fitch, Patrick Sparks

Going into the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky, who had won 10 straight games by an average of 16.3 points, were the No. 1 overall seed and the popular pick to cut down the nets. As noted above, the Wildcats didn't have world-class NBA talent, but they were very deep, athletic and experienced. Kentucky reached the Elite Eight the following year, but has since been dealt two second-round exits and a first-round exit and failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 18 years this past season.

7. 2007 Ohio State

Record: 35-4
Lost in National Championship to Florida, 85-75
NBA Players: Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook, Othello Hunter
Notable Players: Ron Lewis, Jamar Butler, Ivan Harris

This Ohio State team is the closest thing we've seen to the "Fab Five" since Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and Co. donned the maize and blue in the early 1990s. Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook were all freshman, and all three were among the best players in America at their respective positions. This Buckeye team was dominant throughout its run to the final game, but had the "Fab Three" stayed around another year--and Ohio State still signed Kosta Koufos--an undefeated season would have been a stark possibility.

6. 1999 Cincinnati

Record: 28-3
Lost in Second Round to Tulsa, 69-61
NBA Players: Kenyon Martin, DerMarr Johnson, Steve Logan, Kenny Satterfield, Pete Mikael
Notable Players: Jermaine Tate, Ryan Fletcher

You know how Blake Griffin dominated college basketball this year? You know how Memphis ran every Conference USA team off the floor? Well, put those two together--and you've got the 1999-2000 Cincinnati Bearcats. Kenyon Martin won every National College Player of the Year award possible, as the Bearcats held the top spot in the polls for 12 weeks and seemed to be the odds-on favorite until Martin. who averaged 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, broke his right leg in the Conference USA tournament. After that, Cincinnati's hopes of a Final Four were dashed.

5. 2008 Memphis
Record: 38-2
Lost in National Championship to Kansas, 75-68
NBA Players: Derrick Rose, Joey Dorsey, Chris Douglas-Roberts
Notable Players: Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier, Shawn Taggert, Doneal Mack

A few free throws here and there and the 2008 Kansas Jayhawks would be in this slot instead. But, Memphis squandered a nine-point lead with 2:12 remaining and eventually lost in overtime, finishing the season 38-2. Though the Tigers were knocked all season for not playing against top competition in Conference USA, they continued to cakewalk through the NCAA Tournament until the Championship game. In the past decade, few teams have boasted the incredible length and athleticism that the '08 Tigers did.

4. 2002 Duke
Record: 33-5
Lost in Sweet 16 to Indiana, 74-73
NBA Players: Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Dahntay Jones, Chris Duhon, Daniel Ewing
Notable Players: Casey Sanders

After winning the title in 2001 under the direction of Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer and National Player of the Year Shane Battier, Duke seemed a shoe-in to at least get back to the Final Four. Williams, who averaged 21.4 points per game in his two-year collegiate career, was probably the most dominant player of the past decade. This team alone had six NBA players and spent 13 weeks ranked No. 1 in the country.

 
 


2006 UConn
   
 
3. 2006 UConn
Record: 30-4
Lost in Elite Eight to George Mason, 86-84
NBA Players: Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, Denham Brown, Jeff Adrien*
Notable Players: Rashad Anderson, Ed Nelson, Craig Austrie

It would be hard-pressed to put together a better team, from an individual talent standpoint, at least. The Huskies lost just two regular season games--the Big East opener against Marquette, where Steve Novak went off for 39-points, and a 69-64 road game against Villanova, a team that was ranked No. X on this list. When the going got tough, however, the Huskies were sent home packing. A first-round loss in the Big East Tournament to Syracuse was only a small preview of the monumental upset that UConn would suffer in the Big Dance.
"We tried, and we got to overtime [against George Mason]," said coach Jim Calhoun. "We almost got there. I don't know, that little bit of hungerness you need to make a foul shot, make a play--we just weren't able to complete. Therefore, we just weren't able to make it."

As talented as this team was, it always seemed to coast until it absolutely needed to--and that's what keeps it off the list of National Champions and at No. 3 on this countdown.


2. 2005 Illinois
Record: 37-2
Lost in National Championship game to North Carolina, 75-71
NBA Players: Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Luther Head, James Augustine
Notable Players: Roger Powell Jr., Warren Carter

The Fighting Illini won their first 28 games of the season and were ranked No. 1 from Dec. 4 until March 6. The three-headed monster of Brown, Williams and Head arguably made Illinois one of the top five teams of the decade, but unfortunately, the Illini ran into a better team--North Carolina--in the National Championship game. That Carolina squad, which boasted an even-better trio of Sean May, Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants, had essentially no weaknesses and is probably the best all-around college basketball team of the past ten years.


 
 


1999 Duke
   
 
1. 1999 Duke
Record: 37-2
Lost in National Championship game to UConn, 77-74
NBA Players: Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon, William Avery, Corey Maggette, Shane Battier, Chris Carrawell
Notable Players: Nate James

Four of the first 14 picks in the 1999 NBA Draft were Blue Devils. This team was one for the ages. UConn was very good that year, but Duke, 37-1 at the time and on a 32-game winning streak, was absolutely steamrolling through every team it played. Though they fell short against the Huskies, there haven't been many more teams--NCAA Champions or not--that have dominated an entire season the way the Blue Devils did. They truly were one of the greatest college basketball teams of all-time.
staios24
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Not ONE UCLA team

Not ONE UCLA team mentioned?
weak.

memovalencia12
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Arizona??

I can't believe the 2000-2001 Arizona Wildcat team was not on here. Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas, Loren Woods, Michael Wright and Luke Walton all got drafted. Jason Garner was also a 4-time all american. The did lose to Duke in the finals as well.

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1999?

1999 is not in the last decade. The last decade would include the 2000-2009 NCAA Tournaments.

canan
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X on this list

X on this list. When the going got tough, however, the Huskies were sent home packing. A first-round loss in the Big East Tournament to Syracuse was only a small preview of the monumental upset that UConn would suffer in the Big Dance.travesti

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oh~! Richard Jefferson,

oh~! Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas, Loren Woods, Michael Wright and Luke Walton all got drafted. Jason Garner was also a 4-time all american.
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Phillip

It's nice being able to claim my team is the best of the decade.
And it’s also nice knowing that it isn’t up for debate at all.
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Ohio

Too bad that Ohio State team lost at the end of the clock ticking. If only Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and Co. played in the game. Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook were all freshman, and all three were among the best players in America at their respective positions. They played the game well though.

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how about that providence

how about that providence team with Ryan Gomes? they were top 10 all year it seemed... then they lost to Pacific in the first round! lol

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Fan of Cincinnati

I am fan of Cincinnati. They didn't won since 1999, I think. And purchased their season tickets at Stubhub for this season. Hope they do better.

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Thanks

Thanks, how about that providence team with Ryan Gomes? they were top 10 all year it seemed.

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The beauty of the NCAA

The beauty of the NCAA Tournament is that the best team doesn't always win. There are no "playoffs." There is no seven-game series. In one game--40 minutes--anyone can beat anyone. Remember the (34-1) Runnin Rebels of 1991 and the Fab Five Michigan Wolverines of 1993? Any team can advance, and that's why we love it so much. But at the same time, because the Big Dance is a "one bad game and you're out" scenario, the best team doesn't always win it all. With that in mind, let’s look at the top ten teams of the past decade that fell short of the National Championship: Applied Arts school | Business management school

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Runnin Rebels of 1991 and

Runnin Rebels of 1991 and the Fab Five Michigan Wolverines of 1993? Any team can advance, and that's why we love it so much. But at the same time, because the Big Dance is a "one bad game and you're out" scenario, the best team doesn't always win it all. With that in mind, let’s look at the top ten teams of the past decade that fell short of the National Championship: performing arts degrees | occupational safety degrees | online colleges

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