Over the past month we here at Bucky’s 5th Quarter and SB Nation have had to deep dive into some hypothetical’s. With no sports, there has been a lottttt of time to fill. So much so that our staff is getting hyped over online chess match’s. Way to bring it home Bob!
Anyway, yes, we’ve had a lot of time to kill and space to fill but the question that arose over the past few weeks has been one that has had a lot of people pondering. Who are the best teams to never win a championship in college athletics? Here specifically at B5Q we’ve discussed the 2015 men’s basketball team as well as the 2017 women’s hockey team. Both great, but came up just short.
SB Nation went to the FanPulse polls to ask the question nationwide, and we now have the results for the greatest teams to come up just short on the court (football will be later). Thankfully for Badgers fans, it brings back some pretty fond memories. Without further ado, here are the results.
Ahh yes, the 2015 Kentucky Wildcats always make Wisconsin Badger fans light up. The team that was crowned champions in November, came up juuuuuuust a couple games short. The team that was decorated with nine future NBA players, the team with NBA All-Star Devin Booker coming off the bench, the team that started 38-0 was destined to have a perfect season and go down as legends of college basketball history.....until this man came along.
Yes, that memory was a lasting one for all Wisconsin basketball fans, but the results are not all that shocking. That 2015 team was destined for greatness from the opening tip, and still got knocked off. It was no surprise to me that the 2015 Kentucky basketball squad received 37% of the vote. In all honesty, I expected a bigger spread between them and number two.
Speaking of number two, the 2005 Illinois basketball squad was a great one as well, going 37-1 before running into Sean May of North Carolina in the tournament final. The combo of Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head was as lethal as any during their run to the title game. In fact, in 2014 Sports Illustrated crowned this squad the best to never win a title...........and then 2015 happened hahahaahahahahahhaha Kentucky.
Illinois received 19% of the vote, and the other three teams split the remaining 44% almost evenly. Coming in with 15% was the 2016 Virginia team, which was a surprise to me as I don’t remember a single thing about that squad other than Malcolm Brogdon. According to the web they went 29-8, lost the ACC regular season and tournament title, and then got bounced by Malachi Richardson and Syracuse in the Elite 8. One of the best teams to never win a title sounds like, well, a stretch but we go by what the polls say.
Another team that tied with 2016 Virginia was the 2011 Kansas Jayhawks who went 35-3 over the course of the season. On the back of Big 12 player of the Year Marcus Morris, the Jayhawks won the Big 12 regular season and tournament title before falling to VCU in the Elite eight. With a roster of the Morris twins, Thomas Robinson, and Josh Selby, this squad certainly deserved to be in the conversation for coming up short.
Last, but certainly not least, was the 2019 Duke Blue Devils. Similar to the 2015 Kentucky Wildcats, this Duke team seemed to be crowned in November as they came into the season loaded with three Freshman phenoms, one of course being the NCAA Player of the Year in Zion Williamson. Yes, Coach K had some serious talent on that squad and appeared to have all the perfect pieces around them. However, despite all the talent Duke finished third in the ACC before getting hot in the ACC tournament and bringing home the title. In March the Blue Devils had a nice run before being knocked off by the ever dangerous Izzo and company in the Elite eight.
Of course the main thing these teams have in common is that they we’re really good, and they came up short. Each team, despite a lot of accomplishments, gets looked back on with a bit of a mark as they didn’t bring home that one ever important piece of hardware. That’s life in college sports. It don’t mean a thing without the ring, right?