Gonzaga faces hard road of one-loss teams in quest to win NCAA championship

Last one-loss team to win national championship was North Carolina State in 1974

It was 43 years ago, an even longer period of time than since the last undefeated national champion won the NCAA tournament. The year was 1974, when North Carolina State won the NCAA tournament, its lone loss that year being to UCLA 84-66. The payback was an 80-77 double-overtime game against the Bruins in the Final Four, with the Wolfpack beating Marquette in the championship game. Since then, there have been 22 teams with just a single loss entering the NCAA tournament, and those teams are 0-for-22 in those 42 seasons since 1974. 

How does this bode for Gonzaga, 32-1 entering this year's tournament? Past results are not indicative of future success, but the Bulldogs, history says, will have a difficult time in coming away with the tournament trophy.  Six (6) one-loss teams in history have won the title with a single loss, the others being San Francisco (23-1) in 1955, UTEP (23-1) in 1966, and UCLA three times (25-1 in 1968, 25-1 in 1969, and 25-1 in 1971). San Francisco and UTEP had to win 5 tournament games for the title and UCLA and North Carolina State 4 games.  Since 1974, one-loss teams have lost their first NCAA tournament game 5 times, their second game 6 times, lost in the regionals 5 times, lost in the Final Four semifinals 2 times, and lost in the national championship game 3 times. There have been only 5 teams entering the tournament with one loss in the 2000's.  Should Gonzaga win it all, they would be the first team with one loss to win 6 tournament games.  

Year Team            Coach          Record   Results           
1971 UCLA            John Wooden      25-1   4-0, CHAMPION
1974 N. Carolina St. Norm Sloan       26-1   4-0, CHAMPION
1976 Marquette       Al McGuire       25-1   2-1, Regional 2nd
1976 UNLV            Jerry Tarkanian  28-1   1-1
1977 Arkansas Eddie  Sutton           26-1   0-1
1977 San Francisco   Bob Gaillard     29-1   0-1
1980 Alcorn          Davey L. Whitney 27-1   1-1
1980 DePaul          Ray Meyer        26-1   0-1
1981 DePaul          Ray Meyer        27-1   0-1
1981 *Oregon St.     Ralph Miller     26-1   0-1
1982 DePaul          Ray Meyer        26-1   0-1
1987 UNLV            Jerry Tarkanian  33-1   4-1, Final Four, T3nd
1988 Temple          John Chaney      29-1   3-1, Regional 2nd
1990 La Salle        Speedy Morris    29-1   1-1
1996 *Massachusetts  John Calipari    31-1   4-1, Final Four, T3nd
1996 *Texas Tech     James Dickey     28-1   2-1
1997 Kansas          Roy Williams     32-1   2-1
1998 Princeton       Bill Carmody     26-1   1-1
1999 Duke            Mike Krzyzewski  32-1   5-1, Final Four, 2nd
2004 Saint Joseph’s  Phil Martelli    27-1   3-1, Regional 2nd
2004 Stanford        Mike Montgomery  29-1   1-1
2005 Illinois        Bruce Weber      32-1   5-1, Final Four, 2nd
2008 *Memphis        John Calipari    33-1   5-1, Final Four, 2nd
2012 Murray St.      Steve Prohm      30-1   1-1
Source: 2017 Men's Final Four Records Book


Bracket Bits from The RPI Report and The Women's RPI Report

Tidbits from recent issues of The RPI Report and The Women's RPI Report

From The RPI Report:  Do you recall the talking heads consistently saying that no team with more than 14 losses had ever received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament? Wrong! They refer, of course, to Vanderbilt’s inclusion as an at-large selection with a 19-15 record. In 1955, Bradley (7-19) and Oklahoma City (9-17) were at-large teams, although the committee had to include them because they were the only at-large teams in the district to which they belonged. A minor detail, but still you cannot believe everything that you hear or read. The 2017 Men’s Final Four Records Book lists teams from 1985-2016 with the most losses for at-large teams, with 11 teams having 14 losses in that period.

From The Women's RPI Report:  There were no teams with automatic bids that made the NCAA tournament with a losing overall record, but three teams had losing conference records. The stunner was California, 19-13 overall but with a 6-12 record in the Pac-12 conference. That is a full three games below .500, the most ever for an at-large team. Fellow Pac-12 member Oregon was 8-10 in the conference, and Auburn had a 7-9 record in SEC regular-season play. Three at-large teams were .500 in conference games: Arizona State (9-9), Iowa State (9-9), and LSU (8-8).

Teams with No. 1 schedule strength rankings can usually look forward to NCAA tournament invitation

Oregon had No. 1 end of regular season overall RPI schedule strength rank and made elite 8 in NCAA tournament

The Oregon Ducks won top honors for the best overall schedule strength at the end of the 2016 regular season. The Ducks had the No. 5 opponents' won-lost record of 627-415 (.6017) in the regular season, and the No. 13 rank of opponents' RPI played, which are both alternate ways of determining schedule strength. Stanford had the best cumulative opponents' won-lost record of 561-356 (.6118), and Texas had the No. 1 rank of opponents' RPI played. Oregon received a No. 1 seed and made it to the Elite 8 of the NCAA tournament before losing to Oklahoma by a score of 80-68. Since 1991, 21 of the 26 teams holding the No. 1 schedule strength rank at the end of the regular season were in the NCAA tournament, and 22 of those 26 teams were in post-season play. However, having the No. 1 schedule strength does not guarantee success in the NCAA tournament. In 5 of the last 15 seasons, the team holding top schedule strength honors has lost in the first round (using pre-2011 terminology) of the NCAA tournament. In the 11 years prior to that, just 1 team with the No. 1 schedule strength that made the NCAA tournament lost in the first round, although 3 of those teams did not make the NCAA tournament. The best that a team has done in the NCAA tournament since 1991 that had the best regular-season schedule strength was North Carolina in 1997, which lost in the national semifinals to eventual national champion Arizona. Notre Dame had the best regular-season schedule strength in 1992 with a 14-14 record and finished second in the NIT. List

Several conferences use CBN's RPI data to break tournament seeding ties

Administrators have complete confidence in CBN's RPI

Nearly all conference offices subscribe to both The RPI Report and The Women's RPI Report because they know they can count on the most accurate weighted RPI for the men and the women anywhere this side of the NCAA tournament selection committees. CBN first made the Adjusted RPI ratings (which are no longer used for either the men nor the women) available to The RPI Report and The Women's RPI Report subscribers during the 1998-99 season. The NCAA used the Adjusted RPI ratings from the 1993-94 through the 2003-04 season for the men and have used the weighted RPI since the 2004-05 season, while the women used the Adjusted RPI through the 2010-11 season and began using the weighted RPI during the 2011-12 season. The weighted RPI gives more credit to teams that schedule tough opponents and that beat good teams at home and on the road. Story

AP carried CBN's Men's RPI Ratings for 16th consecutive year during the 2009-10 season

2009-10 was the 13th season that AP distributed CBN's Women's RPI Ratings

During the 2009-10 season, the Associated Press (AP) carried CBN's RPI ratings for both men's and women's college basketball, for the 16th consecutive year, for at least part of the season. In addition, 2009-10 was the 13th consecutive season that the AP distributed the women's RPI for at least part of the season. Story