10 best schools without Final Four appearance in expanded bracket era
On Saturday, No. 1 seed Gonzaga hosts No. 11 seed Xavier in an Elite Eight contest. The winner goes to the Final Four, of course.
What's special about that? Well, neither Gonzaga nor Xavier has ever made the Final Four. So, yeah, that's a pretty big deal.
Since the NCAA basketball tournament expanded to 64 teams, several schools have had a ton of success but haven't been able to break through to the Final Four. Some schools were there before, but not since 1984-85. Who are these continually snake-bitten teams?
Here's a list of 10 schools that have had a ton of success, but haven't reached the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1984-85.
1 Brigham Young
Lowdown: The Cougars have 30 NCAA tournament appearances without a Final Four, the most of any school. That includes 19 appearances in the 64-team era. BYU, however, made the Sweet 16 once in those 18 tries.
One that got away: Sporting News Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette led BYU with 28.9 points per game as a senior in 2011, but the Cougars lost 83-74 to Florida in the Sweet 16.
Lowdown: Dan Monson took the Bulldogs to the Elite Eight in 1999, and Gonzaga has made the tournament every season since under Mark Few. The Bulldogs reached the Elite Eight again in 2015 before losing to Duke, and, of course are there again this year.
One that got away: Gonzaga was the darling in 1999, but the 2005-06 team led by Adam Morrison suffered a heart-breaking 73-71 loss against UCLA in the Sweet 16.
3 Iowa State
Lowdown: Iowa State’s only Final Four appearance came in 1944. The Cyclones have been a tournament regular with 16 bids since 1985, the lone Elite Eight coming in 2000.
One that got away: Marcus Fizer led Iowa State to that Elite Eight berth with 22.8 points per game, but the Cyclones lost 75-64 to Michigan State in the regional final.
4 Kansas State
Lowdown: K-State is the only power conference school with at least four Final Four appearances that hasn't gotten back in the 64-team era. The Wildcats made the Elite Eight in 1988 and 2010.
One that got away: Frank Martin guided the Wildcats to a No. 2 seed in the 2010 NCAA tournament. Kansas State advanced to the Elite Eight before losing to Butler 63-56.
Lowdown: Missouri has made 19 of its 25 tournament appearances in the 64-team era, including five straight from 2009-13. The Tigers made the Elite Eight in 1994, 2002 and 2009.
One that got away: Two words: Tyus Edney. Mizzou fans know the rest of the story in a painful 1995 loss against No. 1 seed UCLA.
6 Notre Dame
Lowdown: Notre Dame last reached the Final Four in 1978, and the Irish have made 18 NCAA tournament appearances in the 64-team era. They reach the Elite Eight in both 2015 and 2016, but they fell just short both years; in 2015, they lost by two points to Kentucky and in 2016, they lost by 14 to North Carolina.
One that got away: The 2010-11 Notre Dame team finished second in the Big East and earned a No. 2 seed before getting knocked off 71-57 in the second round by Florida State.
Lowdown: The Panthers last reached the Final Four in 1941. Jamie Dixon took Pitt to 10 tournament bids, including three Sweet 16 appearances and one Elite Eight berth.
One that got away: The 2009 East Region final still hurts. Villanova's Scottie Reynolds sent the Panthers home with a coast-to-coast layup in the final seconds for a 78-76 win.
Lowdown: The Boilermakers haven't made the Final Four since 1980. Purdue has eight Sweet 16 appearances and two Elite Eight berths in the 64-team era, with the most recent Elite Eight bid coming in 2000.
One that got away: Glenn Robinson carried Purdue to the 1994 regional final with 44 points in an 83-78 Sweet 16 win against Kansas, but the Boilermakers lost to Duke 69-60 in the regional final.
Lowdown: Temple reached the Final Four in 1956 and 1958, and the Owls made five Elite Eight appearances under John Chaney (1988, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2001) in the 64-team era. Despite 741 career wins, however, Chaney never made the Final Four.
One that got away: The 1987-88 team, led by Mark Macon, advanced to the Elite Eight before getting knocked off by Duke 63-53. The Owls finished 32-2.
Lowdown: The Musketeers have made 25 of their 27 tournament appearances in the 64-team era, including nine Sweet 16 and three Elite Eight appearances, including this season. Thad Matta (2004) and Sean Miller (2008) guided Xavier to the Elite Eight, and Chris Mack earned his first Elite Eight trip this season.
One that got away: The 2003-04 team, led by Lionel Chalmers, Anthony Miles and Romain Sato, gave Duke all it could handle in the Atlanta Regional final before a 66-63 loss.