Whether it was the 1984 Detroit Tigers, the Bad Boys era Pistons, or Red Wings teams of the late 1990s, just to name a few, fans of teams from the state of Michigan have certainly witnessed some amazing championships.
But what about some of the great teams from Michigan that came up just short of winning it all? Here is a list of the 10 best teams from the state of Michigan that failed to win a title.
1985-86 Michigan Wolverines Football
Out of all the Bo Schembechler-led Michigan teams, the 1985 squad may be one of his best despite not winning a Big Ten Championship.
The '85 Wolverines featured a ferocious defense that allowed just 98 points the entire season and an offense led by junior quarterback Jim Harbaugh. Michigan finished the regular season with a 9-1-1 record, their lone loss coming to top-ranked and eventual Big Ten champion Iowa in a battle of No. 1 vs No. 2. The Wolverines went on to defeat Nebraska 27-23 in the Fiesta Bowl.
U-M was led by 1st team All-Americans defensive tackle Mark Hammerstein and cornerback Brad Cochran as well as four First-Team All-Big Ten selections that included Hammerstein, Cochran, defensive tackle Mark Messner, and linebacker Mike Mallory.
1991-92 Detroit Lions
The 1991 Detroit Lions team still remains as the closest team the franchise has gotten to playing in a Super Bowl.
The Lions, led by All-Pro running back Barry Sanders finished the regular season 12-4 and won the NFC Central. A 38-6 blowout victory over the Dallas Cowboys advanced Detroit to the NFC Championship. However, the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins proved too much for the Lions in a 41-10 loss.
What's even more incredible about this team was the number of injuries they were able to overcome and still have a great season. Detroit lost starting quarterback Rodney Pete in Week 9, giving way to Erik Kramer who led the team down the stretch. The Lions also lost wide receiver Aubrey Matthews and guard Mike Utley.
Detroit did not lose a game a home game that season, going a perfect 9-0 in the Silverdome.
2013 Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers followed up their 2012 World Series appearance with a great regular season in 2013 led by Triple Crown recipient and American League MVP Miguel Cabrera and AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. Together Cabrera and Scherzer helped the Tigers win 93 games and capture the AL Central crown.
Although Detroit would ultimately fall short of the World Series as they bowed out in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, the Tigers' regular-season success combined with individual player performances firmly puts them on this list.
2005-06 Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings 2005-06 regular season was one of the best in franchise history as they won 58 games, earning the President's Trophy for the league's best record.
With experienced players like Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, and Nicklas Lidstrom as well as young and emerging stars in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit's roster was overflowing with talent.
As they entered the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, many experts picked the Red Wings to bring Lord Stanley's Cup back to Detroit, but the Edmonton Oilers had other ideas. The Oilers shocked the Red Wings in six games and even went on to advance to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games.
2013-14 Michigan State Spartans Football
A 7-6 season the year before simmered expectations for the Michigan State Spartans as they entered the 2013 season with a controversy at QB and inexperience at several key positions.
Michigan State struggled mightily in the offensive department early on in the season, but a strong defense led by the “No-Fly Zone” secondary of Darqueze Denard and Trae Waynes made life difficult for opposing offenses.
Following a close 17-13 loss at Notre Dame, the Spartans would go through the Big Ten schedule unscathed and landed a spot in the Big Ten Championship game versus No. 2 and undefeated Ohio State who had won 24 straight games dating back to the 2012 season. However, MSU pulled off the upset and advance to their first Rose Bowl since 1988 where they went on to beat Stanford 24-20 to cap off a magical season.
1998-99 Michigan State Spartans Basketball
The 1998-99 season would be a special one for Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo as the Spartans, led by All-American point guard Mateen Cleaves, dominated the Big Ten losing just one game in-conference and finished the regular season with a 26-4 record overall.
The Spartans won the Big Ten Tournament as well and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. It was this tournament that Izzo began his legendary run in March as Michigan State defeated Kentucky and advanced to their first Final Four of the Izzo era.
Although their season ultimately ended with a semi-final loss to Duke, the Spartans' experience from this season played a part in their National Championship run the next season.
2005-06 Detroit Pistons
After coming within one win of back-to-back NBA Championships, the Detroit Pistons entered 2005 with a new coach, the late great Flip Saunders, but returned much of the same roster.
The 2005-06 season was a memorable one for Pistons fans as Detroit went on a tear, winning 64 games to set a franchise record. Four of the five starters on this team were voted to the All-Star game that season.
With the league's top record, the Pistons entered the 2006 playoffs as the team to beat. Detroit easily dispatched the Milwaukee Bucks in five games before facing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers provided a stiffer test as they pushed the Pistons to the limit, but a win in Game 7 pushed Detroit to the Eastern Conference Finals against a familiar foe in the Miami Heat. With the series split after 2 games, the Heat seized control of the series by winning both games in Miami and ultimately upset the Pistons in six games on their way to an NBA title.
1987-88 Detroit Pistons
The 1987-88 season was a breakout season for the Detroit Pistons as they advanced to their first NBA Finals in 33 years. Led by do-it-all point guard Isiah Thomas and big men Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer, the Pistons won a then-franchise record 54 games and earned the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Detroit defeated Washington and Chicago to set-up a rematch in the East Finals with the Boston Celtics. The teams exchanged wins in the first four games of the series before the Pistons stole Game 5 in Boston and ended the series with a Game 6 victory in Detroit. In the Finals, Detroit took a 3-2 lead in the series, but Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers would win Games 6 and 7 to clinch back-to-back championships.
The Pistons went on to win back-to-back championships of their own in 1989 and 1990.
1992 and 1993 Michigan Wolverines Basketball
Despite sanctions brought against the program for improper benefits that vacated the 1992 and 1993 seasons, the ‘Fab Five Era' of Michigan basketball remains one of the most polarizing in sports. The freshman class of Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Jimmy King, and Jalen Rose generated plenty of buzz during their time in Ann Arbor.
Michigan finished 3rd in the Big Ten in 1992 and advanced all the way to the title game before falling to Duke. The 1993 team compiled a 31-5 record and finished 2nd in the Big Ten, and once again advanced to the national title game and lost to North Carolina in the most bizarre of ways – Webber with the ball calling a timeout late that his team didn't have, thus giving the ball and the game to the Tar Heels.
1995-96 Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings led by the goal-scoring dynamic duo of Sergei Fedorov and captain Steve Yzerman took the NHL by storm in 1995-96. Detroit won an NHL-record 62 regular-season games and a 2nd-best 131 points.
It was during the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs that a new rivalry was born when the Wings met the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals. Colorado in their first year since relocating from Quebec, upset Cup favorite Detroit in six games on their way to their first Stanley Cup.
However, it wasn't the loss that started the rivalry but a questionable hit by Colorado's Claude Lemieux on the Red Wings' Kris Draper. The hit resulted in facial reconstructive surgery for Draper and a bloodbath feud between the two teams that lasted well into the early 2000s.
So what do you think, Nation? Can you think of any other Michigan-based teams that have had supremely high expectations to win a championship but ultimately came up short?
Originally written by Zach Fanko