College basketball is full of excitement and drama. While
winning a national championship is the ultimate goal for every
team, there have been many loaded squads that came up
While the teams on this list didn’t win a title, they are still
often mentioned among the best teams in the history of college
basketball. Here are the best college-basketball teams that failed
to win it all.
11. 1965-66 Kentucky
The 1965-66 Kentucky Wildcats were coached by Adolph Rupp and
their talented roster included future NBA stars Pat Riley and Louie
Dampier. The Wildcats finished the season with a record of 27-2 and
advanced to the national championship game, where they faced the
Texas Western Miners. In a game that would later be immortalized in
the movie “Glory Road,” the Miners upset the Wildcats, 72-65.
10. 2006-07 Ohio State
Led by future No. 1 overall draft pick Greg Oden and longtime
NBA point guard Mike Conley, the Buckeyes were hoping to win their
second national championship in program history. Ohio State,
traditionally a football school, finished the season 35-4 and
ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. The Buckeyes advanced to the national
championship game, where they faced a loaded Florida Gators squad
that was led by future NBA All-Stars Joakim Noah and Al
In the national championship game, Oden avoided the foul trouble
that had plagued him earlier in the tournament and put up a
dominant 25 points and 12 rebounds. However, it wasn’t enough, as
the Gators defeated the Buckeyes 84-75 behind Horford’s 18 points,
12 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Four players from the
Buckeyes’ roster would go on to play in the NBA: Conley, Oden,
Daequan Cook and Othello Hunter.
9. 2004-05 Illinois
The 2004-05 Illinois Fighting Illini were a dominant force in
college basketball. Coached by Bruce Weber and led by Dee Brown and
Deron Williams, the Illini won their first 29 games of the season
and finished with a 37-2 record.
Illinois advanced to the national championship game, where they
faced the North Carolina Tar Heels (who were led by Raymond Felton,
Sean May, Rashad McCants and Marvin Williams). Despite a valiant
effort, the Illini fell just short, losing 75-70. Five of their
players would go on to play in the NBA: Williams, Brown, Luther
Head, Roger Powell and James Augustine.
8. 2007-08 Memphis
Yes, John Calipari has back-to-back teams on this list. Coach
Cal’s 2007-08 Memphis Tigers were absolutely loaded and they were
led by Derrick Rose, who would go on to be the No. 1 pick in the
2008 NBA Draft and the youngest MVP in NBA history in 2011. Chris
Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey and Antonio Anderson were also key
contributors who eventually had stints in the NBA.
The Tigers finished the season with a record of 38-2 and they
advanced to the national championship game, where they faced the
Kansas Jayhawks. Despite a strong effort, the Tigers were unable to
overcome the Jayhawks. Memphis missed a number of late free throws,
which opened the door for Mario Chalmers to hit one of the most memorable
buzzer-beaters in modern NCAA Tournament history and force
overtime. Kansas would go on to win, 75-68.
7. 1974-75 Indiana
Led by head coach Bob Knight, the 1974-75 Indiana Hoosiers
finished the season with a record of 31-1 and advanced to the Final
Four, where they faced the Kentucky Wildcats. Despite a strong
effort, the Hoosiers were upset by the Wildcats, 92-90.
The Hoosiers would have eight players who would go on to play in
the NBA: Scott May, Steve Green, Kent Benson, Quinn Buckner, John
Laskowski, Bob Wilkerson, Tom Abernethy and Wayne Radford.
6. 1996-97 Kansas
The 1996-97 Kansas Jayhawks featured a pair of future NBA stars
(Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz) and one of the best coaches in
college-basketball history (Roy Williams). The Jayhawks finished
the season with a record of 34-2 and advanced to the Final Four,
where they faced the Arizona Wildcats.
Pierce put together a monster performance — 27 points, 11
rebounds, 3 threes, 2 blocks and 2 steals on 69.2/60/100 shooting
splits — but it wasn’t enough to defeat Mike Bibby’s Wildcats. The
Jayhawks lost 85-82 in overtime. In addition to Pierce and
LaFrentz, Kansas had four other players go on to the NBA: Scot
Pollard, Billy Thomas, Jacque Vaughn and Ryan Robertson.
5. 2014-15 Kentucky
The 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats, coached by John Calipari,
featured quite the collection of young, high-upside talent. Led by
future NBA superstars Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker, the
Wildcats finished the season with a perfect record of 38-0.
Kentucky advanced to the Final Four, where they faced the
Wisconsin Badgers and were ultimately upset 71-64. In total, a
whopping nine Wildcats would go on to play in the NBA: Towns,
Booker, Trey Lyles, Willie Cauley-Stein, Aaron Harrison, Andrew
Harrison, Tyler Ulis, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress.
4. 1984-85 Georgetown
The 1984-85 Georgetown Hoyas, coached by John Thompson, were a
powerhouse team that featured future NBA star Patrick Ewing. The
Hoyas finished the season with a record of 35-3 and advanced to the
national championship game, where they faced the Villanova
In one of the biggest upsets in college-basketball history, the
Wildcats defeated the Hoyas 66-64. In addition to Ewing, Georgetown
had four other players who went on to play in the NBA: Reggie
Williams, Bill Martin, David Wingate and Michael Jackson.
3. 1992-93 Michigan
The prior season, the Fab Five took college basketball by storm,
with bald heads and baggy shorts. They started five true freshmen
and had a great season, making it all the way to the national
championship game, where they were handled by a veteran Duke squad
that was led by Christian Laettner, Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley,
In the 1992-93 season, the Wolverines were widely regarded as
the most talented team in the country and they were the favorites
to win it all. Unfortunately, they fell short to North Carolina in
the national championship game in one of the most memorable endings
in sports history. Future No. 1 pick Chris Webber called a timeout
that Michigan didn’t have, as they lost 77-71. Michigan had five
players who would later play in the NBA: Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan
Howard, Jimmy King and Eric Riley (plus Rob Pelinka would go on to
run the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office).
2. 1982-83 Houston
Led by future Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler,
the 1982-83 Houston Cougars were known as “Phi Slama Jama” for
their high-flying style of play. The Cougars were a dominant force
on both ends of the court. They advanced to the Final Four, where
they faced the N.C. State Wolfpack. Despite a 20-point lead in the
second half, the Cougars were upset by the Wolfpack, 54-52. In
addition to the superstar pairing of Olajuwon and Drexler, Houston
also had two other players who would go on to play in the NBA:
Michael Young and Larry Micheaux.
1. 1990-91 UNLV Runnin’
The 1990-91 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels are one of the greatest college
basketball teams of all-time, despite not winning the national
championship. Coached by Jerry Tarkanian, the Rebels had an
incredible season, finishing with a record of 34-1.
Led by Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony, the Rebels
played an up-tempo style of basketball that was both thrilling and
effective. In the Final Four, they lost a close game to the Duke
Blue Devils, who would go on to win the national championship.
Johnson, Augmon and Anthony would go on to thrive in the NBA, and
two other Rebels would also make it to the league (Elmore Spencer
and Eyric Gray).
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