45. Cincinnati, 1961
Most programs that lose the best player in school history to graduation and their head coach to an administrative role take a step backward the following season. But the 1961 Cincinnati Bearcats actually got better following the departure of Oscar Robertson and the promotion of George Smith to athletic director. Early in the season the Bearcats were actually booed by their own fans after first-year coach Ed Jucker installed a slower, more measured offensive attack. It was the same kind of attack that allowed Pete Newell's Cal squad to beat Cincinnati in the Final Four the previous two seasons. Cincinnati dropped three of its first eight games but never lost again after that. The Bearcats didn't feature a true star, but players such as Bob Wiesenhahn and Paul Hogue helped form the most cohesive unit in college basketball that season.
-- Jason King