5 teams that should have won the NCAA title

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

March 6th, 2021

Throughout the history of the NCAA Tournament, a few teams have jumped off the page and made historians say, “wait, how did these guys not win it all?” In some cases, the team had talent and underachieved, or were simply hit by a perfect storm of circumstances. Whatever the case may be, we’ve compiled a list of five teams that fit that description.

5. 1974 UCLA Bruins

John Wooden won 10 national titles in his last 12 years in Westwood. The lone exceptions came during a rebuilding year in 1966, and with this team, which featured legendary big man Bill Walton (among others). UCLA’s 88-game win streak came to an end in January, but the Bruins appeared to be back on the beam going into a national semifinal against North Carolina State.

However, the David Thompson-led Wolfpack stifled Walton’s teammates, who shot just 20-for-50 in an 80-77 double-overtime loss (by contrast, Walton was 13-for-21). NC State would go on to win the title, while UCLA settled for a win over Kansas in the third-place game.

4. 2010 Kentucky Wildcats

Pound for pound, this may be the team with the most pure talent of the five listed. Kentucky’s starting lineup included future NBA stars John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Eric Bledsoe.

The Wildcats won 35 games during the 2009-10 campaign, but the West Virginia Mountaineers would dash Kentucky’s title hopes with a 73-66 victory in the Elite Eight.

3. 1993 Michigan Wolverines

This was one of two squads to feature the “Fab Five,” which consisted of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. The 1991-92 team ran into a Christian Laettner-led Duke squad, but 1993’s title seemed ripe for the taking.

The Wolverines met the North Carolina Tar Heels in the final, a game best known for Webber calling for a timeout Michigan did not have. North Carolina cut down the nets, and the Fab Five era was over.

2. 1983 Houston Cougars

The Cougars’ roster featured future Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, as well as the marketing-friendly nickname “Phi Slama Jama.” Known for their high-flying, dunk-heavy style of play, Houston was heavily-favored to take down NC State in the final.

But the Wolfpack captured the title with Lorenzo Charles’s famous put-back dunk at the buzzer, which inspired Jim Valvano’s legendary reaction that lives on to this day.

1. 1985 Georgetown Hoyas

“Hoya Paranoia” was rampant across the country in the mid-1980’s. Georgetown fell in the 1982 national title game, won the 1984 crown, and seemed poised to go back-to-back in 1985.

All the John Thompson-coached, Patrick Ewing-led Hoyas had to do was get by Big East rival Villanova in the title game, but the Wildcats refused to play along. Instead, Rollie Massimino’s bunch played what’s regarded by many as “the perfect game,” and stunned Georgetown 66-64.