The 343 teams that will not win the national championship

Welcome to the third annual installment of "343 teams that won't win the title." This venerable feature is now 2-for-2, having successfully excluded Villanova from its list in 2016, while also shunning North Carolina in the 343 model's second go-round last year.

The smart thing to do would therefore be to quit now before a dark-horse national champion like Connecticut in 2014 wanders into view. (It's only a matter of time.) Alas, the streak beckons to be extended, and prudence has been cast aside. Here we are.

These are my selections for the 343 teams that will not win the 2018 national title, broken up into three sections.

Ineligible (three teams)

1. Alabama A&M Bulldogs
2. Grambling Tigers
3. Southeast Missouri State Redhawks

Near misses (20 teams)

1. Auburn Tigers
Since losing Anfernee McLemore to a dislocated ankle, Bruce Pearl's defense has taken a hit. The Tigers are still fine on the defensive glass, but what was previously a healthy advantage in turnovers is now mere parity. That being said, Auburn's fast pace and steady green light on transition 3s holds the potential to flummox and demoralize a wide range of non-SEC opponents in the field of 68. Putting the Tigers here instead of inside the magic eight really does constitute a near miss.

2. Butler Bulldogs
Is this a good place to point out that Kelan Martin and Butler didn't seem to get the respect they deserved this season? In per-possession terms, the Bulldogs were the functional equivalent of Xavier in Big East play. Then again, the Musketeers show up on this "near miss" list, too. LaVall Jordan's team is here because in conference play its offense rated out near or below the Big East average in terms of effective field goal percentage, offensive rebounding rate and getting to the line.

3. Cincinnati Bearcats
This one was tough. Putting a team that excels at both offense and (especially) defense on the near-miss list is difficult at best and foolhardy at worst. Nor would this seem to be a propitious historical moment to fret that the Bearcats' offense perhaps relies too much on sheer offensive rebounding might alone. (Getting second chances seemed to work pretty well for North Carolina last year.) In the end, however, Cincy's late-season hiccups on defense against Houston, Wichita State (the home game) and Tulsa felt too ominous for magic-eight comfort.

4. Clemson Tigers
Donte Grantham was on pace for one of the better and certainly most versatile seasons we've seen from an ACC player in recent years before the senior tore his ACL in January. This is still a defense you would prefer not to face in the NCAA tournament, but in conference play the Tigers connected on just 46 percent of their 2s.

5. Creighton Bluejays
The Bluejays performed close to the league averages on both offense and defense in Big East play, and, appropriately enough, that netted Greg McDermott's team a 10-8 record. Marcus Foster recorded an outstanding senior season, and as a team CU was notably effective at converting 2-point tries. Nevertheless, conference opponents (which posted a low turnover rate and a normal offensive rebound rate against the Bluejays) consistently had many more chances to score from the field than did Creighton (which recorded the exact same turnover rate but a far lower offensive rebound rate). That disparity could continue in the field of 68.

6. Florida Gators
The version of the Gators that brushed Kentucky aside in Gainesville is fit for consideration as a magic-eight team. Then again, that version of Florida never seems to stick around for very long. Instead, it gets replaced with some other UF team that loses at home to Alabama by 18. Who knows, maybe Mike White's guys have put things together at last -- this current three-game win streak is the team's longest in two months -- but the Gators' inconsistency prior to that point lands them here.

7. Houston Cougars
There's a lot to like about a team that makes its shots (particularly from the perimeter), values the ball and takes care of business on the boards on both ends of the floor. Armoni Brooks, Corey Davis, Rob Gray and Kelvin Sampson have delivered the best season this program has had since, yes, the Guy Lewis glory days. Still, the Cougars' strangely high foul rate in American play and the thoroughly average number of opponent turnovers that resulted do give one pause.

8. Kansas Jayhawks
Bill Self says this Kansas team had less margin for error to work with than its predecessors to extend the sport's most incredible streak, and he is what is known as a credible source. The Jayhawks could be headed for a justly deserved NCAA tournament No. 1 seed as the outright champions in the nation's toughest top-to-bottom conference, but the uncanny statistical parallels to a 2017 Iowa State team that was but a No. 5 seed suggest caution might be in order before boarding the bandwagon with this particular top seed.

9. Kentucky Wildcats
Putting Kentucky here could go badly. The Wildcats seemed to be figuring things out at warp speed before the loss at Florida, and this offense was shredding opposing defenses prior to the visit to Gainesville. UK's late-season offensive rebounding, in particular, was lethal. So what's the problem? The problem is the rules of this game say there's space for only eight teams, and anyway, the habit Kentucky's opponents have of missing an unusually high number of 3s feels like something that could come to an end abruptly in one tournament game (as indeed it did against the Gators).

10. Michigan Wolverines
It's hard to resist the siren call of momentum from a team that just won its second consecutive Big Ten tournament. Or is it? Michigan had the same momentum a year ago, surely, and all it got John Beilein's men was a hard-fought one-point loss to Oregon in the Sweet 16. At least the Wolverines outperformed the other representative of Team Momentum in the 2017 tournament. Like UM, Duke finished tied for fifth in its league during the 2016-17 regular season and then won its conference tournament. Nevertheless, the Blue Devils lost in the round of 32. If Michigan (which tied for fourth in the Big Ten this season) mimics this recent history, keeping the Wolverines out of the magic eight will look wise. On the other hand, if Beilein's men take Connecticut in 2011 as their model (ninth-place regular-season finish, won the conference tournament, won the national title), let us never speak of this again.

11. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Let's not lose sight of the big picture: It's no small thing for a Conference USA team to make this list, quite deservedly, alongside the likes of Kansas and Xavier. MTSU, I salute you!

12. Nevada Wolf Pack
One of the best things about the NCAA tournament is seeing an excellent team such as Nevada finally getting a chance to show what it can do in a bracket filled with as of yet unaware major-conference types. Eric Musselman has a veritable army of 6-foot-7, high-efficiency scorers, up to and including Caleb Martin, Jordan Caroline, Kendall Stephens and Cody Martin. But losing Lindsey Drew to a ruptured Achilles does subtract one very good point guard from that equation.

13. Ohio State Buckeyes
It has been well established that OSU's kryptonite is Penn State, so Chris Holtmann's team should be fine as long as it doesn't run into the Nittany Lions in the bracket, right? Maybe. Certainly, Keita Bates-Diop is a team unto himself (it's not every 6-foot-7 featured scorer who also defends the rim and cleans the defensive glass), and Ohio State could sell instructional videos on wise shot selection. Just the same, the Buckeyes appeared to take a step back on defense late in the season against opponents not named Rutgers.

14. Seton Hall Pirates
Myles Powell has had the kind of sophomore season that should trigger a high degree of anticipation for his junior campaign, and Angel Delgado is, as always, a rebounding man among boys. But the Pirates struggle to get the ball in the basket from both sides of the arc, and Kevin Willard's men were, surprisingly enough, just so-so as a team on the defensive glass in Big East play.

15. Tennessee Volunteers
What the Volunteers have been able to do despite the fact that SEC opponents shot better on their 2s than Rick Barnes' guys did is little short of remarkable. Only Auburn outscored the league by a larger per-possession margin, and Lamonte Turner was a 3-point maestro during SEC play. That being said, conference opponents really did shoot better on their 2s than Tennessee did. That's not a good precursor for NCAA tournament success.

16. TCU Horned Frogs
Not only is this the best season of Horned Frog basketball in 50 years, it's possible that TCU is primed to outperform its regular-season numbers in the tournament. Jamie Dixon's team ranked No. 8 in Big 12 play in points allowed per possession, but a healthy share of that ugly number derived from the fact that opponents were on fire from the perimeter more or less all season. Texas Christian didn't miss the magic eight by as much as you might think.

17. Texas Tech Red Raiders
A month ago, this looked like the team that was finally going to end the amazing streak of Big 12 titles for Kansas, but a nagging injury suffered by Keenan Evans and a surprisingly (and consistently) permissive late-season defense changed those plans. Even so, the Red Raiders still look like a team with the potential for a run to the second weekend if Chris Beard's guys get some rest and get healthy.

18. West Virginia Mountaineers
Jevon Carter, Sagaba Konate and Bob Huggins co-authored a shot-volume success story this season. As a result, an offense that was slightly less accurate than the Big 12 average from the field was far better than average in terms of points per possession. The problem for the Mountaineers is simply that they forced a surprisingly "normal" number of opponent turnovers in conference play, particularly late in the season. When all those opponent trips to the line (and there are always plenty of those in Morgantown) aren't offset by opponent giveaways, the math no longer works for West Virginia.

19. Wichita State Shockers
If you desire entertainment, this is the team for you. Observers will continue to speak of the Shockers in the same program-level-stereotype terms that were used appropriately in the Fred VanVleet days, but the truth is this defense performed at a level that was right at the American average in conference play. The good news entertainment-wise is that this offense is spectacular. All of the above should make for fun viewing in the tournament, but it might not make for a high number of viewing opportunities.

20. Xavier Musketeers
The outright Big East champions knocked Villanova off its seemingly permanent throne. That's no small feat, and keep in mind Chris Mack's team was ranked all the way down at No. 17 in the preseason. Speaking of a ranking in the teens, that's about where laptops put Xavier nationally right now. Maybe that's a smidge low, but top eight doesn't sound quite right, either, for a group whose dispositive performance virtues in Big East play were outstanding defensive rebounding and a highly favorable disparity in free throws.

No clear path (320 teams)

1. Abilene Christian Wildcats
2. Air Force Falcons
3. Akron Zips
4. Alabama Crimson Tide
5. Alabama State Hornets
6. Albany Great Danes
7. Alcorn State Braves
8. American Eagles
9. Appalachian State Mountaineers
10. Arizona State Sun Devils
11. Arkansas Razorbacks
12. Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions
13. Arkansas State Red Wolves
14. Army Black Knights
15. Austin Peay Governors
16. Ball State Cardinals
17. Baylor Bears
18. Belmont Bruins
19. Bethune-Cookman Wildcats
20. Binghamton Bearcats
21. Boise State Broncos
22. Boston College Eagles
23. Boston University Terriers
24. Bowling Green Falcons
25. Bradley Braves
26. BYU Cougars
27. Brown Bears
28. Bryant Bulldogs
29. Bucknell Bison
30. Buffalo Bulls
31. California Golden Bears
32. Cal Poly Mustangs
33. CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners
34. CSU Fullerton Titans
35. CSU Northridge Matadors
36. Campbell Fighting Camels
37. Canisius Golden Griffins
38. Central Arkansas Bears
39. Central Connecticut Blue Devils
40. Central Michigan Chippewas
41. Charleston Cougars
42. Charleston Southern Buccaneers
43. Charlotte 49ers
44. Chattanooga Mocs
45. Chicago State Cougars
46. The Citadel Bulldogs
47. Cleveland State Vikings
48. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
49. Colgate Raiders
50. Colorado Buffaloes
51. Colorado State Rams
52. Columbia Lions
53. UConn Huskies
54. Coppin State Eagles
55. Cornell Big Red
56. Dartmouth Big Green
57. Davidson Wildcats
58. Dayton Flyers
59. Delaware Blue Hens
60. Delaware State Hornets
61. Denver Pioneers
62. DePaul Blue Demons
63. Detroit Mercy Titans
64. Drake Bulldogs
65. Drexel Dragons
66. Duquesne Dukes
67. East Carolina Pirates
68. East Tennessee State Buccaneers
69. Eastern Illinois Panthers
70. Eastern Kentucky Colonels
71. Eastern Michigan Eagles
72. Eastern Washington Eagles
73. Elon Phoenix
74. Evansville Purple Aces
75. Fairfield Stags
76. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights
77. Florida A&M Rattlers
78. Florida Atlantic Owls
79. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
80. Florida International Golden Panthers
81. Florida State Seminoles
82. Fordham Rams
83. Fort Wayne Mastodons
84. Fresno State Bulldogs
85. Furman Paladins
86. Gardner-Webb Bulldogs
87. George Mason Patriots
88. George Washington Colonials
89. Georgetown Hoyas
90. Georgia Bulldogs
91. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
92. Georgia Southern Eagles
93. Georgia State Panthers
94. Grand Canyon Antelopes
95. Green Bay Phoenix
96. Hampton Pirates
97. Hartford Hawks
98. Harvard Crimson
99. Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors
100. High Point Panthers
101. Hofstra Pride
102. Holy Cross Crusaders
103. Houston Baptist Huskies
104. Howard Bison
105. Idaho Vandals
106. Idaho State Bengals
107. Illinois Fighting Illini
108. Illinois-Chicago Flames
109. Illinois State Redbirds
110. Incarnate Word Cardinals
111. Indiana Hoosiers
112. Indiana State Sycamores
113. IUPUI Jaguars
114. Iona Gaels
115. Iowa Hawkeyes
116. Iowa State Cyclones
117. Jackson State Tigers
118. Jacksonville Dolphins
119. Jacksonville State Gamecocks
120. James Madison Dukes
121. Kansas State Wildcats
122. Kennesaw State Owls
123. Kent State Golden Flashes
124. La Salle Explorers
125. Lafayette Leopards
126. Lamar Cardinals
127. Lehigh Mountain Hawks
128. Liberty Flames
129. Lipscomb Bisons
130. Little Rock Trojans
131. Long Beach State 49ers
132. LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds
133. Longwood Lancers
134. Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns
135. UL Monroe Warhawks
136. LSU Tigers
137. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
138. Louisville Cardinals
139. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
140. Loyola (MD) Greyhounds
141. Loyola Marymount Lions
142. Maine Black Bears
143. Manhattan Jaspers
144. Marist Red Foxes
145. Marquette Golden Eagles
146. Marshall Thundering Herd
147. Maryland Terrapins
148. Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks
149. UMass Minutemen
150. UMass Lowell River Hawks
151. McNeese Cowboys
152. Memphis Tigers
153. Mercer Bears
154. Miami Hurricanes
155. Miami (OH) RedHawks
156. Milwaukee Panthers
157. Minnesota Golden Gophers
158. Ole Miss Rebels
159. Mississippi State Bulldogs
160. Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
161. Missouri Tigers
162. Missouri State Bears
163. Monmouth Hawks
164. Montana Grizzlies
165. Montana State Bobcats
166. Morehead State Eagles
167. Morgan State Bears
168. Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers
169. Murray State Racers
170. Navy Midshipmen
171. Nebraska Cornhuskers
172. New Hampshire Wildcats
173. NJIT Highlanders
174. New Mexico Lobos
175. New Mexico State Aggies
176. New Orleans Privateers
177. Niagara Purple Eagles
178. Nicholls Colonels
179. Norfolk State Spartans
180. North Carolina A&T Aggies
181. North Carolina Central Eagles
182. NC State Wolfpack
183. North Dakota Fighting Hawks
184. North Dakota State Bison
185. North Florida Ospreys
186. North Texas Mean Green
187. Northeastern Huskies
188. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
189. Northern Colorado Bears
190. Northern Illinois Huskies
191. Northern Iowa Panthers
192. Northern Kentucky Norse
193. Northwestern Wildcats
194. Northwestern State Demons
195. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
196. Oakland Golden Grizzlies
197. Ohio Bobcats
198. Oklahoma Sooners
199. Oklahoma State Cowboys
200. Old Dominion Monarchs
201. Omaha Mavericks
202. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
203. Oregon Ducks
204. Oregon State Beavers
205. Pacific Tigers
206. Penn Quakers
207. Penn State Nittany Lions
208. Pepperdine Waves
209. Pittsburgh Panthers
210. Portland Pilots
211. Portland State Vikings
212. Prairie View A&M Panthers
213. Presbyterian Blue Hose
214. Princeton Tigers
215. Providence Friars
216. Quinnipiac Bobcats
217. Radford Highlanders
218. Rhode Island Rams
219. Rice Owls
220. Richmond Spiders
221. Rider Broncs
222. Robert Morris Colonials
223. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
224. Sacramento State Hornets
225. Sacred Heart Pioneers
226. Saint Joseph's Hawks
227. St. Bonaventure Bonnies
228. St. Francis NY Terriers
229. St. Francis PA Red Flash
230. St. John's Red Storm
231. Saint Louis Billikens
232. Saint Mary's Gaels
233. Saint Peter's Peacocks
234. Sam Houston State Bearkats
235. Samford Bulldogs
236. San Diego Toreros
237. San Diego State Aztecs
238. San Francisco Dons
239. San Jose State Spartans
240. Santa Clara Broncos
241. Seattle Redhawks
242. Siena Saints
243. South Alabama Jaguars
244. South Carolina Gamecocks
245. South Carolina State Bulldogs
246. USC Upstate Spartans
247. South Dakota Coyotes
248. South Dakota State Jackrabbits
249. South Florida Bulls
250. SE Louisiana Lions
251. Southern Jaguars
252. Southern Illinois Salukis
253. SIU Edwardsville Cougars
254. SMU Mustangs
255. Southern Miss Golden Eagles
256. Southern Utah Thunderbirds
257. Stanford Cardinal
258. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
259. Stetson Hatters
260. Stony Brook Seawolves
261. Syracuse Orange
262. Temple Owls
263. Tennessee Martin Skyhawks
264. Tennessee State Tigers
265. Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles
266. Texas Longhorns
267. Texas A&M Aggies
268. Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders
269. Texas Southern Tigers
270. Texas State Bobcats
271. Toledo Rockets
272. Towson Tigers
273. Troy Trojans
274. Tulane Green Wave
275. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
276. UAB Blazers
277. UC Davis Aggies
278. UC Irvine Anteaters
279. UC Riverside Highlanders
280. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
281. UCF Knights
282. UCLA Bruins
283. UMBC Retrievers
284. UMKC Kangaroos
285. UNC Asheville Bulldogs
286. UNC Greensboro Spartans
287. UNC Wilmington Seahawks
288. UNLV Rebels
289. USC Trojans
290. UT Arlington Mavericks
291. UTEP Miners
292. UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros
293. UT San Antonio Roadrunners
294. Utah Utes
295. Utah State Aggies
296. Utah Valley Wolverines
297. Valparaiso Crusaders
298. Vanderbilt Commodores
299. Vermont Catamounts
300. VMI Keydets
301. VCU Rams
302. Virginia Tech Hokies
303. Wagner Seahawks
304. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
305. Washington Huskies
306. Washington State Cougars
307. Weber State Wildcats
308. Western Carolina Catamounts
309. Western Illinois Leathernecks
310. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
311. Western Michigan Broncos
312. William & Mary Tribe
313. Winthrop Eagles
314. Wisconsin Badgers
315. Wofford Terriers
316. Wright State Raiders
317. Wyoming Cowboys
318. Yale Bulldogs
319. Youngstown State Penguins
320. Savannah State Tigers

By my count, that's 343 teams. Congratulations are therefore in order for Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Purdue, Villanova and Virginia. All of you were conspicuously absent.

Now, go out and make me look good. There's a (very short and totally un-Kansas-like) streak on the line.