1. Best NCAA basketball coaches without a ring: Guy Lewis (Houston 1956-1986)
The battle for the top spot on this list was intense, but we’ll go with former Houston coach Guy Lewis. Throughout his 30-year tenure with the Cougars Lewis did plenty of winning, falling just short of a national championship in heartbreaking fashion twice.
The first great Cougars’ teams that Lewis coached came in the late 1960s when Elvin Hayes was one of the most dominant players in the country. Lewis led Houston past UCLA at the Astrodome in 1968 in a contest that went on to be known as the Game of the Century, although the Bruins would get their revenge with a blowout win in the Final Four.
After that great run of back-to-back Final Fours in the 1960s, Lewis built another dominant squad in the early 1980s. Led by Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, the Phi Slama Jamma Cougars made college basketball into their personal playground.
Houston got to the national championship game in 1983 and 1984, losing both contests to NC State and Georgetown. The first defeat was the most heartbreaking as the Cougars fell on a dunk from Lorenzo Charles in the final seconds to give the title to the Wolfpack.
All told, Lewis won 592 games with Houston and assembled some of the greatest teams ever to play college basketball. The fact Lewis didn’t get one national title to fully complete his resume and enhance his legacy is a shame.
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