The six-round, single-elimination marathon that is the NCAA college basketball tournament offers special significance for a list of the best teams not to win the national championship. Many of these teams were led by some of the game's greatest players and coaches, and many of them make legitimate claims to have been the best team in a particular year. In several cases, those claims are unambiguous.
The majority of the teams on this list represent the sport's traditional powerhouse programs, for whom appearances on this list are a mark of their consistently high level of success. Continually building great teams year to year, in addition to winning national titles, is a part of what creates their identity as blue bloods.
Yet every appearance is also a lingering symbol of disappointment. Each of the teams on this list could have dramatically improved the stature of its program with a title it had the talent to achieve.
For this reason, writers and fans could spin their perspective a variety of ways for each team to answer the simple question of whether it is good or bad to hold a spot on this list.
More than anything, this list evokes thoughts of what could have been. It's a reminder of how a couple of missed shots, a couple of close calls, and in some cases, injuries can dramatically alter the trajectory of college basketball. This list illustrates that decades of history are decided in short spans of 40 minutes.