20. 2018 University of Miami Football
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The 2018 Hurricanes entered the year with lofty expectations. Coming off a 10-win season which led to the school’s first appearance in the ACC Championship game — and the birth of the ‘turnover chain’ — Miami had high hopes of being a contender on the national scale.
Uneasy QB play and a four-game losing streak halted any hype surrounding the Hurricanes season. Miami ended the year 7-6, and have since fired former head coach Mark Richt. It could be another decade until we see the Hurricanes back in the ACC title game.
19. 2016 Dallas Cowboys
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Few franchises boast a more fervent fan-base than that of the Dallas Cowboys. Cowboys fans are everywhere — after all, they are ‘America’s Team’. As such, Cowboys teams typically become a bit over-hyped due to the extreme amount of coverage the team receives.
2016 was no different. The Cowboys tied for the most wins in a single season in franchise history (13), and were led by two stud rookies in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott quickly became the most overrated QB in all of football, even though the team’s former quarterback (Tony Romo) was far superior. Dallas unraveled in the playoffs, bowing out in their first game to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
18. 2009 San Jose Sharks
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The Sharks have quietly ascended the ranks of the most cursed franchises in professional sports. Since joining the league in 1991, the Sharks have been a fairly good regular season team (20 playoff appearances, six division titles), but have been abysmal in the postseason (18-20 in playoff series).
2009 was primed to be the Sharks’ year. San Jose led the NHL in points (117), and boasted one of the league’s best defenses (204 goals allowed). They pulled a favorable matchup in the first round against the in-state Anaheim Ducks, limiting travel between games. San Jose’s ‘home cooking’ turned out to be a farce, as the Ducks swept the first two games in the Bay Area before ending the series in six games.
17. 2012 Duke Basketball
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The Blue Devils are held to a higher standard. Just two years removed from their most recent National Championship, the 2012 version of Duke looked to compete for glory yet again with a stacked roster. Bowing out of the ACC Tournament early raised some eyebrows at the time, but a team which included Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, and, of course, Mike Kryzyewski was expected to figure it out.
Figure it out, they did not, as Duke would end up being upset in their first NCAA Tournament game by the Patriot League Champion Lehigh Mountain Hawks — led by a guard named C.J. McCollum.
16. 2012 Los Angeles Angels
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Mere weeks after the 2011 MLB season concluded, the Angels shocked the baseball world by inking ace pitcher C.J. Wilson and all-world first baseman Albert Pujols to deals which combined for upwards of $330 million. With a stud in the rotation, and arguably baseball’s best hitter in tow, the Angels were pegged as one of the early favorites to hoist the World Series trophy.
The entire year finished as a colossal disappointment. The Angels weren’t even able to secure an AL West trophy, finishing behind the Athletics — who boasted one-third of the Angels total payroll for 2012.
15. 2000 St. Louis Blues
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The 2000 St. Louis Blues enjoyed a remarkable regular season. Through 82 games, the Blues allowed just 165 goals (fewest in the league) and recorded nine shutouts en route to securing the No. 1 seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The goaltending duo of Roman Turek and Jamie McLennan was the most formidable in the league, and an attack led by Pavol Demitra, Pierre Turgeon, and Chris Pronger could hang with any other team’s front line.
Unfortunately for the Blues, leading scorer Demitra suffered a season-ending injury prior to the postseason. St. Louis was eventually ousted by the San Jose Sharks in seven games in the first round of the playoffs. Although Demitra’s absence was clearly felt, the Blues showed little resiliency without their captain, dropping a winnable series as a heavy favorite to an inferior team.
14. 2007 Los Angeles Galaxy
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In a bold attempt to bolster soccer interest state-side, the Los Angeles Galaxy spent a hefty $250 million to bring over international sensation David Beckham for the 2007 season and beyond. Beckham joined fellow World Class players Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan, giving the Galaxy enough star power to compete with any of the LA sports teams.
While it benefited the team’s cheque books (ticket sales were through the roof), it didn’t do much to improve their chances on the pitch. The Galaxy finished 10th overall in the MLS. Beckham would end up appearing in just five games all year, scoring as many goals as you and me did in the 2007 MLS season — zero.
13. 2004 U.S. Men’s National Basketball Team
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LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Allen Iverson, and Tim Duncan seem like good ingredients to build a basketball team around, right? That didn’t end up being the case in 2004.
With several top players opting out (Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal certainly could have helped), the Larry Brown-led group looked lost in Athens. Eyebrows were raised when the US dropped games to Puerto Rico (led by Carlos Arroyo, and Lithuania (led by Sarunas Jasikevicius) in group play. All fears were realized when Manu Ginobili (plus a handful of other NBA players) and Argentina soundly defeated the USMNT in the semi-finals. After winning three gold medals in a row in dominating fashion, the United States’ group of All-Stars had to settle for bronze in ’04.
12. 2018 Virginia Basketball
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Can we really have this list without including the only 1-seed to ever lose to a 16-seed? That’s the very definition of being overrated. Virginia entered the tournament as one of the two best teams in the country, only to lose to a team that had to beat Vermont in its conference championship game to lock-in a berth in the ‘Big Dance’.
Virginia proved all of their doubters right in their embarrassing defeat to UMBC. After falling behind early, the Cavaliers turtled, and never even made a serious push to get back in the game. No matter how many times it happens from here on out, Virginia will always be the first ever No. 1 seed to fall in the Round of 64.
11. 2003 Chicago Cubs
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Every baseball fan in Chicago will forever remember the name ‘Steve Bartman’. Bartman became infamous in 2003 when he interfered with a foul ball in the NLCS which cost the Cubs a crucial out late in their matchup with the Florida Marlins.
Given the city’s thirst for a title, Bartman became a scapegoat for the season. However, the play occurred while the Cubs were up 3-0 in Game 6. Chicago needed just five outs to end the game. Even after losing Game 6, the Cubs still had another chance in Game 7 to secure the series. They lost the pivotal series finale, crumbling under the immense pressure of delivering Chicago a championship. If they couldn’t shake the nerves in the NLCS, the Cubs wouldn’t have stood much of a chance in the World Series.
10. 2015 Carolina Panthers
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The 2015 Panthers were one of the quietest regular season juggernauts in recent memory. After racing to a 14-0 record to begin the year, the Panthers finally suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of their division rival Falcons. Had it not been for Matt Ryan and co. picking up a win over Cam Newton’s group, the Panthers would have entered the Super Bowl with a chance to complete a 19-0 season.
Once Carolina eventually reached the title game, they were met by a battle-tested Broncos squad. Denver held the NFL’s highest scoring team to just 10 points.
9. 2012 Notre Dame Football
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Few programs hold a richer tradition of college football than the University of Notre Dame. With 11 National Championships under their belt, the Fighting Irish have repeatedly won at the highest level. However, their latest title came in 1988, and the team has taken a step back since the turn of the Millennium.
2012 appeared to be a bounce-back year for the storied program. After a 12-0 season which saw the school finish the season ranked No. 1 according to the BCS, Notre Dame set to face off against the juggernaut Alabama Crimson Tide in the championship game.
The Irish ended up getting stomped and exposed by a superior Alabama team. At one point, the score was 35-0 in favor of Alabama, as Notre Dame proved to be outmatched and over-hyped.
8. 2014 Brazil National Soccer Team
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2014 was supposed to be Brazil’s year. With the World Cup cycling through various locations around the world, 2014 finally made its way back to Brazil for the first time since 1950. Brazil’s star-studded roster was expected to make a deep run, and ultimately capture the country’s first World Cup victory since 2002.
Brazil’s World Cup run didn’t go quite as envisioned. In fact, it was a nightmare. Brazil made it all the way semi-finals, only to get absolutely decimated by Germany by the score of 7-1. A six-goal defeat in front of its home fans is something the Brazilian team will never live down.
7. 2015 University of Kentucky Basketball
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Entering the 2015 NCAA Tournament, an undefeated Kentucky squad looked to become the first team in men’s college basketball history to complete a season 40-0. The young Wildcats notched wins over Hampton, Cincinnati, West Virginia, and Notre Dame before facing off against Wisconsin for a chance to play in the title game. A hard-fought battle saw Kentucky drop a 71-64 stunner, spoiling any hopes for the perfect season.
Kentucky’s 2015 team had plenty of talent (nine members went on to play in the NBA), but lacked an identity. They out-‘talented’ every team they played until they ran into a legit group in Wisconsin. Plus, any team which has Aaron Harrison taking more shots per game than Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker is probably not as good as advertised.
6. 2016 Golden State Warriors
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The 2016 Warriors were a remarkable basketball team. Their unique combination of unselfishness, outside shooting, defensive versatility, and star power made them nearly impossible to game plan for. Compiling a thunderous 73-9 record — the most wins by a team in a single season — the mighty Warriors were eventually toppled in the NBA Finals by the Cleveland Cavaliers in an epic seven-game series.
This ranking isn’t to say the Warriors weren’t an incredible basketball team. Even if they had ended up winning the championship, the title of “Greatest Team of All-Time” was always going to be a stretch. Losing the series against the Cavs only proved that they weren’t unbeatable, and likely wouldn’t have stood toe-to-toe with a few teams that came before them.
5. 2011 Boston Red Sox
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After missing the playoffs in the previous year, the Red Sox decided to flex their big-market muscles by trading for Adrian Gonzales and signing Carl Crawford. Their newly acquired stars completed a lineup which already featured David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia.
Most interestingly, the Red Sox (90 wins) ended up finishing behind the Tampa Bay Rays (91 wins) in the AL East standings, and dropped 6-of-18 games to their Floridian division opponents. Boston’s pay roll that year was $172 million, while Tampa’s was just $46 million.
4. 2011 Philadelphia Eagles
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The Eagles were one of the surprise teams of 2010. Just a year removed from his release from prison, Michael Vick re-took the NFL world by storm, posting his best statistical season as a pro passer. Philly ended the season 10-6, and entered 2011 with even bigger goals.
During that offseason, Philadelphia acquired Pro Bowlers Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Evan Mathis, and Ronnie Brown. They also signed former collegiate star Vince Young to play backup for Vick. Young dubbed the Eagles a “dream team” during his introductory press conference.
The ‘dream team’ ended up being more like a nightmare, as the Eagles slogged to a 1-4 start before ending the year 8-8. Vick returned to the mean, Asomugha was a major bust, and Andy Reid coached just one more season in Philadelphia before getting the ax.
3. 2013 Los Angeles Lakers
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Two years removed from their last championship, the Los Angeles Lakers went all-in during the offseason prior to the 2013 season. After striking out on Chris Paul (thanks to David Stern’s intervention), the Lakers traded for two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and All-NBA center Dwight Howard. Together with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace, the Lakers starting lineup combined for a total of 41 All-Star appearances and 35 All-NBA teams over their collective careers.
Although they were expected to challenge the defending champion Miami Heat for a title, the Lakers faltered early and just barely squeaked into the playoffs. Despite Bryant’s untimely Achilles injury during the last week of the season, a 7th-seed in the Western Conference and a first-round exit was a major disappointment.
2. 2004 New York Yankees
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Coming off a crushing World Series defeat to the Florida Marlins the year prior, the 2004 Yankees entered the season as a strong candidate to grab the American League pennant yet again. With a 101-win regular season, and reigning AL MVP and newly acquired Alex Rodriguez in tow, the Yanks appeared to be World Series favorites. And then, they blew a 3-0 lead.
In one of the most remarkable turn of events in sports history, the Yankees completely imploded against the ‘little brother’ Boston Red Sox. By the time Game 7 rolled around, the Yankees had already mailed it in, surrendering six runs in the first two innings and never putting forth much of an effort.
For dropping a 3-0 series lead — effectively losing grasp of the psychological grip they held over the Red Sox — the 2004 Yankees serve as a cautionary tale for the franchise as a whole.
1. 2011 Miami Heat
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When LeBron uttered the now-infamous “Not one, not two, not three…” line referring to the amount of championships the Miami Heat’s ‘Big Three’ would win together, a colossal target was placed on the team’s collective back. James and Chris Bosh joining Dwayne Wade signaled a massive shift in the league. The Heat possessed two of the five best players in the league, and another perennial All-Star in Bosh.
After an up-and-down regular season, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks embarrassed the Heat in the NBA Finals. LeBron disappeared late in games during the Finals, and the series remains the single biggest misstep of his career.
A dynasty was expected — and eventually, somewhat delivered in the form of two rings (2013, 2014) — but the 2011 season ended as a reality check for the ‘Heatles’.