The four teams (South Carolina, Gonzaga, North Carolina, Oregon) set to square off in Phoenix this weekend aren’t necessarily the top squads in college basketball. They reached the NCAA tournament's Final Four by navigating four rounds of a single-elimination gauntlet notorious for breeding great underdog stories and fomenting absolute chaos. By contrast, college football's "Final Four," the quartet of outfits chosen for the College Football Playoff, make the sport's national semifinals because they are, in the selection committee’s parlance, the best.
The next iteration of the playoff is a long way off; we’re still months away from the start of the regular season. But the four-team hoops arrangement soaking up national attention this week may have caused you to start thinking about football’s semifinals. With that in mind, here are four squads that failed to qualify for the CFP in the 2016 season but could make it in 2017.