Ranking the Most Overrated College Basketball Teams Since 2000

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2021

Ranking the Most Overrated College Basketball Teams Since 2000

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    Kentucky coach John Calipari
    Kentucky coach John CalipariDave Martin/Associated Press

    When a college basketball season reaches the final month, it's typically clear when a highly ranked preseason team is doomed to fall short of its initial billing.

    Although a respectable NCAA tournament run can overshadow a frustrating regular season, sometimes a once-valued team never even has that opportunity. The 2020-21 Duke Blue Devils and Kentucky Wildcats are both trending in that direction.

    Since the 2000-01 campaign, 38 teams have entered a season with a top-10 ranking and finished outside of the AP Top 25. Of that group, 12 didn't land an NCAA tournament bid―13 if you include North Carolina's would-be miss in 2019-20. Duke and Kentucky are in danger of expanding that total.

    The order here is based on a combination of preseason ranking and final record. Results in the NIT, CBI or other non-March Madness postseason tournaments were not considered.

8. 2000-01 Seton Hall Pirates

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    Eddie Griffin
    Eddie GriffinCredit: Noren Trotman (Allsport via Getty)

    Eddie Griffin was an absolute star on the court. In his lone season at Seton Hall before entering the 2001 NBA draft, he averaged 17.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.4 blocks.

    Seton Hall also had Samuel Dalemberta longtime NBA starterand two other coveted recruits. Griffin ranked No. 1 in the class of 2000 with Andre Barrett (No. 9) and Marcus Toney-El (No. 30), and their arrival resulted in a No. 10 preseason ranking. After all, the Pirates had earned a Sweet 16 trip in 1999-2000.

    But they could not bring the talented roster together.

    After a promising 10-2 start, they crumbled in Big East play. While that can partially be attributed to Griffin and Ty Shine getting into a fight in January, the offense lacked efficiency, and the team committed a bunch of fouls. Seton Hall dropped 11 of its last 15 regular-season games, missing the NCAA tournament.

    The Pirates mustered a 16-15 record, and then both Griffin and Dalembert headed to the NBA and were first-round picks.

7. 2003-04 Missouri Tigers

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    Former Missouri coach Quin Snyder
    Former Missouri coach Quin SnyderL.G. PATTERSON/Associated Press

    In the first four seasons of Quin Snyder's tenure, Missouri made the NCAA tournament each year and reached the Elite Eight once. The 2003-04 roster returned four starters and welcomed two valued freshmen, Linas Kleiza and Thomas Gardner.

    However, the Tigers began to unravel after the unexpected departure of point guard and top defender Ricky Clemons.

    Missouri, which ranked No. 5 in the preseason AP poll, lost to Gonzaga, Illinois, Memphis and Belmont in nonconference play. The Tigers then opened 4-5 in Big 12 action, falling to 9-10 overall.

    Although they put together a six-game winning streak late in the season, but a 1-3 stretch that included two losses to Kansas prevented any hopes of a miracle NCAA trip. Missouri trudged to a 16-14 record, falling to Michigan in the NIT.

    Snyder, now the Utah Jazz head coach, would be fired two seasons later.

6. 2011-12 Pitt Panthers

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    Ashton Gibbs
    Ashton GibbsKeith Srakocic/Associated Press

    During the 10-year stretch from 2001-02 to 2010-11, the Panthers thrived. They won 25-plus games nine times, had a single 10-loss season and went to five Sweet 16s. And in the 2011 NCAA tournament, Pitt landed its second No. 1 seed in three years.

    Given that success, nobody blinked at the No. 10 preseason ranking for the Panthers in 2011-12. Sure, they lost three starters. But top scorer Ashton Gibbs returned, and Pitt started 11-1.

    Unfortunately, though, he wasn't enoughespecially not after 5-star freshman Khem Birch transferred in December.

    Pitt lost eight consecutive games in late December and January. Following a four-game winning streak, the Panthers dropped the next five. They posted a 5-13 record in Big East play and a 17-16 mark overall, falling early in the conference tournament, too.

    Winning the College Basketball Invitational offered some consolation, but it hardly lessened the disappointment of the season.

5. 2009-10 North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller
    Ed Davis and Tyler ZellerTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Roy Williams quickly turned North Carolina into a powerhouse. Within six seasons of his arrival, the Tar Heels won two national titles, went to another Final Four and held four No. 1 seeds in March. That success continued after the 2009-10 campaign, too.

    But this particular season was a struggle.

    As you'd expect, the Heels had talent. They boasted a frontcourt with future NBA players John Henson, Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller. Henson highlighted a recruiting class with five top-50 prospects, including power forward twins David and Travis Wear.

    However, the offense lacked a perimeter threat. North Carolina ranked 315th in three-point attempts and just 235th in conversion rate, and that weakness plagued the Heels in ACC games. The 11-3 start disappeared into a 5-13 conference record, and a first-round loss in the ACC tournament sent UNC to 16-16.

    Ranked sixth in the preseason, UNC made the championship in a postseason tournament. The problem, of course, is that the tournament was the NIT, and the Heels lost to Dayton in the finals.

4. 2006-07 LSU Tigers

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    Dave Einsel/Associated Press

    One year earlier, Glen "Big Baby" Davis propelled LSU to its first Final Four appearance in 20 seasons. The powerful forward returned in 2006-07 alongside Tasmin Mitchell and Garrett Temple with Texas Tech transfer Terry Martin ready to contribute.

    The fifth-ranked Tigers lost to Wichita State, Texas and Washington in nonconference play, but none of those required panic. Instead, the alarm bells started ringing during SEC action.

    After falling to Alabama and defeating Auburn and Mississippi, LSU imploded with nine losses in 10 games and finished with an SEC West-worst 5-11 league mark. The Tigers' season ended with a loss in the second round of the SEC tournament and a 17-15 record.

    Davis entered the NBA draft, and head coach John Brady would be dismissed midway through the next season.

3. 2014-15 Florida Gators

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    Billy Donovan
    Billy DonovanPhil Sandlin/Associated Press

    Billy Donovan oversaw an incredible team in 2013-14. Florida enjoyed a perfect SEC record before winning the conference tournament, landing a No. 1 seed in March and making the Final Four.

    Yes, the Gators lost four key seniors. But they landed a No. 7 preseason ranking thanks to returning talents Michael Frazier, Dorian Finney-Smith and Kasey Hill, plus new arrivals in 5-star Devin Robinson, 4-star Chris Chiozza and Michigan transfer Jon Horford.

    Perhaps if Florida had one additional piece, 2014-15 would've been ok. The Gators actually had the 10th-best defense in the country, according to KenPom.com. They ranked 211th in rebound rate and 263rd in three-point percentage, though.

    Close losses piled up as Florida finished 16-17, and Donovan bolted for the Oklahoma City Thunder after the season.

2. 2019-20 North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Cole Anthony
    Cole AnthonyBen McKeown/Associated Press

    Apparently, multiples of 10 are unkind to Roy Williams.

    North Carolina bounced back from the frustrating 2009-10 season with nine excellent years. Along with a third national title under Williams, the Tar Heels won 24-plus games each season and regularly earned a top-two March Madness seed.

    Despite adding 5-star guard Cole Anthony and 5-star center Armando Bacot, UNC's new-look roster faltered. Anthony, who missed time with injury, understandably had issues balancing subpar efficiency with being the only high-end playmaker. The Heels had no perimeter firepower, shooting a dismal 30.4 percent from three.

    North Carolina tumbled from its No. 9 preseason ranking and posted a 14-19 record. It lost in the ACC tournament before the coronavirus pandemic ended the season.

1. 2012-13 Kentucky Wildcats

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Hindsight shows unmatched hype, but it made sense at the time.

    Kentucky landed No. 1 overall prospect Nerlens Noel, 5-star wings Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin and 4-star center Willie Cauley-Stein in the 2012 class. The freshman-fueled 2011-12 teamled by Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchristwon a national title.

    Why couldn't the 2012 class do the same? The answer was a combination of porous shooting, lackluster defense and Noel's season-ending ACL tear.

    Kentucky, which entered the year ranked No. 3, rarely shot threes, made just 34.6 percent of them and had KenPom's 88th-ranked defense. The 'Cats tumbled from 17-6 to 21-11 after Noel, a shot-blocking dynamo, was injured.

    John Calipari's team had a shot to reach March Madness, but an immediate loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament crushed those hopes. Kentucky then fell to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT to close a disappointing 21-12 year.


    Recruiting information via 247Sports. Statistics courtesy of KenPom.com or Sports Reference unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.