Odds Were Against Nova Reaching F4 Let Alone Repeat as NCAA Champion

Someone has to be first but the odds were stacked against Villanova. The Wildcats, after losing three times this season as the nation's top-ranked team, faced an uphill battle reaching the Final Four, let alone repeating as NCAA champion. Nova became the 19th team to lose at least three times atop the national polls in the same campaign and subsequently fail to win the national title.

Many in the national media and NCAA Division I Committee simply showed their amateurish historical perspective when they hailed Nova as the best bet to capture the championship. Only four of the first 19 squads in this category reached the Final Four (including Michigan '65 and Georgetown '85 succumbing in national final). Following is a chronological look at NCAA playoff progress for schools with at least three defeats as the nation's top-ranked team in a single season:

Season #1 Three-Time Loser Opponents Beating Same #1 What Happened to #1?
1951-52 Kentucky Minnesota/St. Louis/St. John's UK lost in regional final
1953-54 Indiana Oregon State/Northwestern/Notre Dame IU lost in regional semifinals
1964-65 Michigan* Nebraska/St. John's/Ohio State/UCLA UM lost in national final
1973-74 UCLA Notre Dame/Oregon State/Oregon UCLA lost in national semifinals
1983-84 North Carolina Arkansas/Duke/Indiana UNC lost in regional semifinals
1984-85 Georgetown St. John's/Syracuse/Villanova Hoyas lost in national final
1985-86 North Carolina Virginia/Maryland/North Carolina State UNC lost in regional semifinals
1989-90 Kansas Missouri (twice)/Oklahoma KU lost in NCAA second round
1992-93 Indiana Kansas (twice)/Ohio State IU lost in regional final
1993-94 North Carolina* UMass/Georgia Tech (twice)/Boston College UNC lost in NCAA second round
1997-98 Duke Michigan/North Carolina (twice) Duke lost in regional final
1997-98 North Carolina Maryland/North Carolina State/Utah UNC lost in national semifinals
1999-00 Cincinnati Xavier/Temple/Saint Louis UC lost in NCAA second round
2000-01 Stanford UCLA/Arizona/Maryland Stanford lost in regional final
2001-02 Duke Florida State/Maryland/Indiana Duke lost in regional semifinals
2002-03 Arizona Louisiana State/Stanford/UCLA UA lost in regional final
2005-06 Duke Georgetown/Florida State/North Carolina Duke lost in regional semifinal
2012-13 Indiana Butler/Illinois/Minnesota IU lost in regional semifinal
2016-17 Villanova Butler/Marquette/Wisconsin Nova lost in NCAA second round

*Michigan '65 and North Carolina '94 are the only teams to lose four times in a single season when ranked #1.