After UCLA lost to Memphis in Saturday's national semifinals, ESPN persisted in repeating that the Bruins' three consecutive trips to the Final Four without a title were unmatched since the early 1980s. Would for Duke that it was true.
Take note, ESPN: Duke was the last program to go three and out in the Final Four, making unsuccessful appearances from 1988 through 1990. The Blue Devils' 30-point loss in the 1990 finals against UNLV remains a record for the title game, as does the 103 points scored by the Runnin' Rebels.
The unrequited run gave rise to predictable chatter that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was a choke artist, unable to prosper on the game's biggest stage. Then the Devils seized consecutive NCAA championships in 1991 and 1992, and the talk turned to dynasty rather than failure.
The Dukies and their coach redeemed themselves with a vengeance, which ought to be a source of solace for UCLA coach Ben Howland.
|10||1967-76||UCLA||8||1967, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75|
|3||1955-57||San Francisco||2||1955, 56|
- No school has gone to the Final Four more than three straight years without proceeding to win a title.
- Only three schools have gone to the national semifinals more than three times in a row - UCLA, Duke, and Cincinnati.
- Three schools went to the Final Four three times and failed to win a championship - Ohio State in the forties, UNC in the sixties, and Houston in the eighties. If the pattern of alternating decades recurs, UCLA won't make the Final Four in 2009.
- Ohio State is the only program to enjoy two very separate three-year runs of Final Four inclusion.
- So far, eight different schools have each gone three times in a row to the Final Four. Of those 24 chances, six yielded titles. That's a 25 percent success rate. Two of those championships were won by San Francisco and two by Kentucky.
- The two programs that went to the national semis for five consecutive seasons, Cincinnati and Duke, won two titles each during their transcendent runs. That's a 40 percent success rate.
- Under John Wooden from 1967 through 1975, UCLA won eight times in nine years, an 89 percent rate of success.