March Sadness: The most miserable power schools in college basketball
March Madness is a time for celebration for most college basketball fans. You get to skip work (or watch on your computer when your boss isn’t looking) and consume college basketball all day. Buzzer-beaters, bracket-busters … the NCAA tournament is all gravy — at least, for most.
Some fan bases can’t enjoy March like the rest of us. Whether it’s because their teams never make it, they make it only to get heartbroken or they have to sit there and suffer while their rivals cut down the nets, “March Madness” turns into “March Sadness.” If you’re a fan of one of those schools, this article is for you. Here is the College Basketball Misery Index.
It is patterned off the professional Sports Misery Index, in which we’ve broken down each school in the top seven conferences (ACC, American, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) and Gonzaga to see how miserable they truly are. The full methodology will be outlined below, but teams are evaluated in seven categories: Championships, Final Fours, conference titles (regular-season and conference tournament), NCAA tournament berths, NCAA tournament wins, heartbreaks and rival comparison. Recent events are weighted more, NCAA sanctions are not considered, and the higher the score, the more miserable we think you should be. Like in an NCAA tournament, we have seeded every school, and we evaluated teams from the 1938-39 season (when the NCAA tournament started) until now.
You won’t see big write-ups on schools such as Villanova, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State. They’ll get plenty of coverage in the upcoming tourney.
Here we go. Results are based on events through the 2017-18 season, so this year’s regular-season conference titles have not been factored in.
No. 1 seeds
Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 37.14 points
How can a school that produced the likes of Tim Duncan and Chris Paul have the most miserable power-conference college basketball fan base? It’s pretty easy: No matter what you do, you’re completely overshadowed by Duke and North Carolina (and to a certain extent, NC State). Wake is by far the most tortured school when it comes to comparisons to rivals.
The Demon Deacons have made the tournament once in the past eight seasons, haven’t won a conference title since 2003 and have made only one Final Four, back in 1962. But there’d be a little more pride about those occasional achievements if they didn’t have such basketball giants as rivals. It’s another sad March at Wake, and it has been nearly 15 years since Paul was on campus.
East Carolina Pirates, 36.74
Another North Carolina-based school makes the top line, but for completely different reasons. Sure, East Carolina has some sort of envy toward the powerful Tar Heels, but the misery of a Pirates fan is based more on meek acceptance of futility than trash talk from rival schools.
If you didn’t know that East Carolina played basketball, you’re not alone. The Pirates have made the tournament only twice — the most recent in 1993 — and are one of only three teams in this group of 88 that have never won a tournament game. They’ve never won a regular-season conference championship, and being in a tough American conference won’t help them change that.
Penn State Nittany Lions, 35.94
Penn State fans are generally content with their football program, but Happy Valley is hardly satisfied with the state of the Nittany Lions’ basketball program. That’s when they even notice — the Bryce Jordan Center regularly puts tarps over unsold seats to PSU basketball games.
You can’t blame Penn State fans for being despondent. The Nittany Lions have been to the tournament once since 2001 and haven’t won a tournament game since they made the 2001 Sweet 16 — their high-water mark of the past 60 years. Penn State hasn’t won a regular-season or conference tournament since it joined the Big Ten in 1992-93 and has to watch conference rivals (Ohio State) and in-state rivals (Pitt and Temple) have success.
Arizona State Sun Devils, 35.48
We know what you’re thinking: How can Arizona State be a top seed in a misery index when it a) went to the NCAA tournament last year and b) got to watch James Harden in college? It’s actually pretty easy, as Sun Devils basketball has been an exercise in futility — and we’re not even factoring in their 1990s point-shaving scandal.
Being an Arizona State basketball fan stinks in two ways: dealing with Arizona and overall lack of success. While the rival Wildcats rack up conference titles by the bushel, Arizona State hasn’t won a Pac-12 title of any kind since joining in 1978-79. The Sun Devils last won an NCAA tournament game in 2009, haven’t been to the Sweet 16 since 1995 and have never been past that round.
No. 2 seeds
Vanderbilt Commodores, 33.31
Unlike the teams above, Vanderbilt has been to the tournament quite a few times lately, making it seven of the previous 12 seasons. But Vanderbilt’s misery — besides having Kentucky as a rival — comes from the heartbreak that happens in the tournament.
Vanderbilt has been an upset special for years, as it has lost three times in the round of 64 as a No. 5 or better seed since 2008. It ranks in the top 25 in heartbreaks, a category that tends to be populated by schools that make deep tournament runs. That’s not the case for Vandy, which has never progressed past the Sweet 16. This year only adds to the misery, as top-five recruit Darius Garland was knocked out early and the Commodores finished 0-18 in the SEC.
Washington State Cougars, 33.15
Washington State has been a grooming spot for a recent perennial NBA All-Star, as Klay Thompson did fine work in the Palouse before becoming part of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty. But that, and one good season under Tony Bennett, is about all Cougars fans have had to cheer about.
Bennett got Wazzu to back-to-back NCAA tournaments, including a run to the Sweet 16 in 2008, before leaving for Virginia. It has been ugly ever since. Washington State is set to miss the NCAA tournament for the 11th straight season and hasn’t had a winning season since 2010-11. Things pre-Bennett weren’t great, either, as the Cougars have made the tournament only six times and haven’t won the Pac-12 since 1941, when it was called the Pacific Coast Conference.
Boston College Eagles, 33.11
Speaking of point-shaving scandals, Boston College’s gambling scandal was so famous that it became a 30 for 30 that featured Henry Hill of “Goodfellas” fame. The on-court play hasn’t been good in Chestnut Hill, as we’re going on 10 years since the Eagles’ last NCAA tournament appearance and a dozen since their last tourney win.
The past decade-plus of misery has eroded the hope in a fan base that used to have things to cheer about, as Boston College won a Big East regular-season championship in 2005 and made a run to the Elite 8 in 1994. But it has been pretty miserable for BC since it lost to Villanova in overtime in the Sweet 16 in 2006. While the Eagles have been scuffling, fellow New England school UConn has four national championships since 1999.
South Florida Bulls, 33.02
USF basketball fans aren’t the most demanding, realizing that the growth of their football program (and subsequent move up the conference food chain) makes it tough for basketball. But that said, Bulls basketball hasn’t delivered in its 40-plus years of existence.
South Florida has made the NCAA tournament three times and has won only two tournament games, both in 2012. Even that 2012 season wasn’t worth getting excited about as a) the Bulls won with a very hard-to-watch defensive style that kept scoring in the 50s and lower and b) it was followed by six straight seasons of 19 or more losses. USF has won only two conference titles, making its quest to gain respect a harrowing one.
No. 3 seeds
UCF Knights, 32.9
The Knights, behind 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall, look like they will crash the tournament in March, but the previous 34 seasons of UCF basketball haven’t been great, as the Knights have gone through many of the same growing pains as their directional-school rival, South Florida.
UCF has nearly the same résumé as USF and is lacking the Bulls’ NCAA tournament wins, as the Knights join East Carolina and Nebraska as the only teams on this list to not win a tournament game. However, UCF is on the three line due to more NCAA tourney appearances (four to three) and more conference titles (five to two). That said, it hasn’t been fun to support UCF, so enjoy Fall, B.J. Taylor and Aubrey Dawkins while you can.
Georgia Bulldogs, 32.86
Tom Crean has a task that has bedeviled many coaches before him: jump-starting Georgia basketball. It has been a thankless task since an unlikely run to the 1983 Final Four, as the Dawgs have had only two real highlights since: a run to the Sweet 16 in 1996 and a Cinderella SEC tournament title in 2008.
Even Georgia’s good moments have a caveat, as the 1996 run was eclipsed in heartbreaking fashion by John Wallace and Syracuse in overtime. But that’s about as good as it gets for Dawgs hoops, which hasn’t had an NCAA tournament victory since 2002. Despite having national title-winning coaches (at other schools, obviously) such as Jim Harrick and Tubby Smith, Georgia has not been able to maintain success while rival Florida has emerged as a hoops power.
TCU Horned Frogs, 32.25
TCU is ranked this high despite making the tournament last season, which highlights how bad things were before Jamie Dixon arrived. The Horned Frogs were mired in quicksand, as last year’s tournament bid was their first since 2008 and their eighth overall.
While TCU is ranked lower on this list than it would have been last year, there’s a lot for Frogs fans to be sullen about. Last year’s upset loss to Syracuse extended a tournament victory drought that dates to 1987, and TCU hasn’t won a conference title since it won the WAC in 1998. Dixon has TCU in contention for another berth, but it’ll take a tourney win or two to chip away at the misery.
Oregon State Beavers, 31.28
It’s hard to believe, but the Beavers used to be the premier program not named UCLA out West, as OSU went to three Final Fours before 1963, was a perennial tourney team under Ralph Miller and had star players such as Gary Payton and A.C. Green.
While Gary Payton II was recently a star in Corvallis, the past three decades of Oregon State basketball have been depressing. The Beavers have made the tournament once since 1990, haven’t won a tournament game since 1982 and haven’t won a conference title of any kind since 1990. Meanwhile, hated Oregon has made Elite 8s and a Final Four. Oregon State is spunky this season, though, so maybe there’s hope?
No. 4 seeds
Nebraska Cornhuskers, 31.18
The Cornhuskers are the third team on this list that has never won an NCAA tournament game. Not only that, Nebraska hasn’t won a conference championship since it won the Big 8 tournament in 1994 and was snubbed from the tournament last season despite winning 13 Big Ten games, something that had never happened.
So how are the Huskers this “low?” Nebraska did make the tournament recently, qualifying in 2014, and the Huskers are blessed to have rivals that haven’t completely torn it up. While Creighton, Iowa and Minnesota have had more success than Nebraska, none of them has made it to the Sweet 16 this millennium. Therefore, there’s less outside angst.
Tulane Green Wave, 31.16
Tulane is another American team that seems to have bitten off more than it can chew, as the Green Wave haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 1995, when they were in the now-defunct Metro Conference. Not even a former NBA coach, Mike Dunleavy, has been able to change their fortunes.
How is Tulane, which gave up basketball for four seasons in the 1980s due to a point-shaving scandal, a 4-seed? A little bit of Nebraska, as the Wave don’t have recently successful rivals to mock them. The Green Wave have also won a tournament game in each of their three appearances, something very few schools can say.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 31.05
We’re approaching the 15-year anniversary of Georgia Tech’s run to the NCAA title game, in which Tech’s dream of an NCAA title was ruined by Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor and Connecticut. The Yellow Jackets have lived in a nightmare since, as they’ve made only three tournaments, the last coming in 2010.
Georgia Tech, which once produced future NBA stars such as Chris Bosh, Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury, will miss the tournament for a ninth straight year and hasn’t won a conference title since 1996. Forget about competing with rival North Carolina — Georgia Tech has a hard time keeping up with the likes of Clemson.
DePaul Blue Demons, 31.05
DePaul used to be one of the hottest brands in college hoops, as players such as Terry Cummings, Mark Aguirre and Rod Strickland starred for a Blue Demons program that was a tournament regular in the late 1970s and 1980s. But even then DePaul tended to underachieve in a tournament setting.
It’d love that opportunity now, though, as DePaul hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2004 and has missed it 17 of the past 18 seasons. It hasn’t had a winning season since 2006-07 and isn’t even the top dog in Chicago anymore, as Northwestern recently won a tourney game and Sister Jean and Loyola-Chicago won the city’s heart with their Final Four run last year.
No. 5 seeds
Virginia Tech Hokies, 30.86
Imagine where the Hokies would be if they hadn’t made two straight tournaments and weren’t on their way to a third this season. But even with the recent success under Buzz Williams, it’s tough to be a Virginia Tech basketball fan. The Hokies haven’t gotten out of the first round since 2007, have made the Sweet 16 once (in 1967) and haven’t won a conference title since 1996. Add rival Virginia’s becoming a national power and some painful tourney snubs during the Seth Greenberg era, and the Hokies need some tournament wins.
Northwestern Wildcats, 30.76
The Big Ten portion of the five line starts with a Wildcats team that would be way higher on the list if this had been done three years ago. Northwestern hadn’t qualified for the NCAA tournament before 2017, when it beat Vanderbilt in the first round and gave Gonzaga a run in the second. That recent success bolstered Northwestern’s portfolio a bit, despite the Wildcats’ never winning a conference title in the tournament era. Northwestern has also been better than in-state rival Illinois and Chicago-area rival DePaul recently, something that’s extremely rare.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 30.55
As hard as it might be to believe, Rutgers has been to the Final Four, as the Scarlet Knights made a run in 1976. They haven’t made many runs since, as Rutgers last made the NCAA tournament in 1991 and hasn’t won a tournament game since 1983. The year 1991 was also the last time Rutgers won a conference title. It could be worse for the Knights, though, as their rivals haven’t been great lately, either. We documented Penn State’s issues above, and Seton Hall and Maryland have generally been disappointing in the past 10-15 years.
Minnesota Golden Gophers, 30.06
Minnesota has been to a Final Four, as the Golden Gophers went on a wonderful run in 1997 after winning the Big Ten championship. They’re lucky we didn’t consider the sanctions for academic dishonesty that caused the NCAA to invalidate that season, as Minnesota would be much higher on this list if we had. It has been rough in the 22 years since, as the Gophers haven’t won a conference championship or advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Watching Wisconsin make back-to-back Final Fours earlier this decade wasn’t pleasant, either.
No. 6 seeds
NC State Wolfpack, 29.77
Like Wake Forest above, NC State has a North Carolina/Duke problem. It’s even worse than what the Demon Deacons face, as NC State is in the same metro area as the Tar Heels and Blue Devils. Because of that, nothing the Wolfpack do stacks up — not even their two national championships. Of course, it doesn’t help that the last title (in 1983) is a memory that most of their fans know only from 30 for 30 clips. Nor does it help that NC State hasn’t won a conference title of any kind since 1989 or advanced past the Sweet 16 since 1986.
USC Trojans, 28.57
While much of USC’s misery comes from being in the same city as UCLA, the Bruins aren’t the only reason the Trojans are rated this high in angst. Despite its location in a talent-rich area, USC hasn’t been able to maintain consistent success or much success at all. The Trojans were a notable snub from last year’s tournament field and haven’t made it past the first weekend since 2007. USC hasn’t won a regular-season Pac-12 title since 1985 and hasn’t made a Final Four since 1954.
St. John’s Red Storm, 28.5
Current St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin was a key part of the Red Storm’s best moment, as he led them to the Final Four. The problem is that Final Four appearance happened in 1985 and doesn’t really register with most Johnnies fans today. St. John’s basketball has struggled mightily since making the Elite 8 in 1999, as the Red Storm missed the tournament six of the past seven seasons and haven’t won a tourney game since 2000, which was the last time they won a conference title. It hasn’t been pretty.
Clemson Tigers, 28.37
Clemson fans had a ray of hope last year with their team’s run to the Sweet 16, but that was a rare glimpse of sunshine for a program used to darkness and regret. Prior to last season, Clemson’s last tournament win was in 2011 and its last Sweet 16 appearance was 1997. The Tigers have one ACC title since joining that conference in 1954 (which came in 1990) and have never won a road game at rival North Carolina, dropping 59 consecutive away games to the Tar Heels. And now they have to sweat out Selection Sunday.
No. 7 seeds
Seton Hall Pirates, 28.16
Older Pirates fans insist that Rumeal Robinson was not fouled and did not deserve the two free throws that vaulted Michigan past Seton Hall in overtime of the 1989 title game. Younger Pirates fans would love to get that far and have that type of bad memory. Although the Pirates made the tournament the past three seasons and won a game last year, it has been 19 years since Seton Hall made it to the Sweet 16. That doesn’t cut it, especially when hated rival Villanova has won two national championships recently.
Colorado Buffaloes, 27.0
Tad Boyle has brought a little happiness to Buffaloes hoops, as Colorado made the tournament four times in five seasons from 2012 to ’16, including winning the Pac-12 tournament in its first year in the league in 2012. That said, minimal success is about all fans in Boulder can expect, as Colorado has won two tournament games since 1970 (one of those came when Chauncey Billups played for CU). It has been 50 years since the Buffaloes made the Sweet 16.
SMU Mustangs, 26.0
Larry Brown got SMU back on the map in his four seasons with the Mustangs, building a team that won American regular-season and tournament titles in 2015 and 2017. But those campaigns ended on a sour note with first-round upsets to Los Angeles-based Pac-12 teams, as UCLA shocked the Mustangs in a controversial first-round loss in 2015, and USC sent SMU home prematurely two years later. SMU hasn’t won a tournament game since 1988, a streak that will continue this season.
Washington Huskies, 25.16
The Huskies are the best of a pretty uninspiring Pac-12 this season, but don’t expect Washington fans to apologize for the mediocrity of their peers. After seven consecutive years of missing the tournament, including in 2012, despite winning the regular-season conference title, the Huskies will take what they get. Even their rare moments of success have ended in heartbreak, as they were upset by Louisville as a No. 1 seed in the 2005 Sweet 16 and were heartbroken by a Richard Hamilton buzzer-beater in 1998.
No. 8 seeds
Missouri Tigers, 25.08
Recent history hasn’t been kind to Mizzou. The Tigers missed the tournament four consecutive seasons before making it last year and haven’t won a tourney game since 2010, a streak that includes a loss to No. 15-seeded Norfolk State as a No. 2 seed in 2012. But more than anything, Missouri fans are miserable because of their rival, Kansas. While the Jayhawks have won three national championships and regularly make long tourney runs, the Tigers have never been to the Final Four, getting beaten in the Elite 8 in 1994, 2002 and 2009.
Providence Friars, 24.57
Making the NCAA tournament hasn’t been a problem for the Friars, as they’ve qualified five years in a row prior to this season. Winning tournament games has been a different thing altogether for Providence, which hasn’t advanced past the round of 64 since 1997, when Austin Croshere led a run to the Elite 8. But even that achievement, and making the Final Four in 1987 behind coach Rick Pitino and star guard Billy Donovan, is diminished when compared to rival UConn’s national titles.
Ole Miss Rebels, 23.84
While the Rebels are looking good for a tournament berth this season, Ole Miss basketball hasn’t been a bastion of success. Except for Marshall Henderson’s spirited run in 2013 that led to an SEC tournament championship and a first-round upset of Wisconsin in the NCAA tourney, the 17 seasons since the Rebels’ last foray into the Sweet 16 have seen mostly pain and anguish. The seasons before that weren’t much better, as 2001 represents Ole Miss’ best tournament performance.
California Golden Bears, 23.84
Like NC State, Cal has a national championship in the tournament era. Unfortunately for Bears fans, it came in 1959, which means that no one 65 or younger has any recollection of it. What modern-day Cal fans have recollection of is disappointment, as the Golden Bears haven’t been to the Sweet 16 since 1997. Cal has had its share of great players (Jason Kidd, Jaylen Brown, etc.), but the Bears haven’t won a Pac-12 title since 2010, and their last tourney appearance was an upset by No. 13 seed Hawaii in 2016.
No. 9 seeds
Iowa Hawkeyes, 23.83
While Iowa has a bit more going for it than Minnesota, it hasn’t been an easy two decades for Hawkeyes fans. Iowa has not made it to the Sweet 16 since 1999, and its only conference titles since 1979 were Big Ten tourney titles in 2001 and 2006. Meanwhile, rival Wisconsin has been extremely successful.
LSU Tigers, 23.68
It has been a long 13 years since Glen “Big Baby” Davis led the Tigers to the Final Four. LSU has struggled mightily since, making the NCAA tournament only twice. While this year’s team has brought hope (and an SEC title), players such as Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Simmons have had difficulties making LSU a consistent power.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane, 23.45
Tulsa has a rich history of success, as coaches such as Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith and Bill Self cut their teeth with the Golden Hurricane before moving to bigger schools. But after making three Sweet 16s and an Elite 8 from 1994 to 2000, that success has dried up, as Tulsa hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2003.
Mississippi State Bulldogs, 23.34
Mississippi State was a tournament regular in the mid-1990s and the 2000s, highlighted by a trip to the 1996 Final Four. But the Bulldogs haven’t been to the tournament this decade (though that should change this year) and haven’t made it past the first weekend since that 1996 run, despite having several highly seeded teams.
No. 10 seeds
Houston Cougars, 22.69
Houston thought it turned a corner last March, when it won its first tourney game since 1984 and seemingly had Michigan beaten in the second round. Then Jordan Poole hit a prayer to eliminate the Cougars, giving them a helping of misery that they last faced when Lorenzo Charles’ dunk allowed NC State to upset Houston in the 1983 title game.
South Carolina Gamecocks, 21.58
It might be hard to imagine South Carolina being miserable, as the Gamecocks advanced to the Final Four two years ago, but they missed the tournament last year and before 2017 hadn’t won a tournament game since 1973. They haven’t won a conference title since 1997, a year when they were upset by No. 15 seed Coppin State in the tourney.
Texas Tech Red Raiders, 20.87
If the Red Raiders are this high the year after they made the Elite 8, how high would they have been before last year’s tournament? Except for a couple years under Bob Knight and a Sweet 16 run in 1996, Texas Tech has struggled, as it hadn’t won a Big 12 title of any kind since it joined the conference in 1996-97 before getting a share this season.
Alabama Crimson Tide, 20.85
Alabama has typically had bragging rights over in-state rival Auburn on the hardwood but is slated behind the Tigers due to not having advanced past the first weekend since a 2004 Elite 8 run and having made the tournament twice in the past 12 seasons. The Tide haven’t won an SEC title since 2011.
No. 11 seeds
Auburn Tigers, 20.78
Speaking of Auburn, the Tigers would have been quite a bit higher a year ago, as last season’s SEC title added some joy (even with the lopsided second-round loss to Clemson). Auburn had missed the tournament 14 straight seasons before last year and has made it only four times since 1988, though it does have a cool alumnus in Charles Barkley.
Stanford Cardinal, 20.72
Stanford gets to turn its nose up at Cal, which is basically what a Stanford fan wants. That’s a big reason the Cardinal are this low. Stanford has struggled for the most part since the Lopez twins left in 2008 and hasn’t won a Pac-12 title since 2004, but the run to the Sweet 16 in 2014 is fresh enough to lessen some of the misery.
Temple Owls, 20.21
Temple used to be consistently above average, as the Owls made 12 straight tournaments from 1990 to 2001 and six consecutive from 2008 to ’13. Temple made five Elite 8 appearances between 1988 and 2001. The Owls haven’t flown as high lately, though, as they’ve missed the tournament four times in the past five years and haven’t won a conference title since 2012.
Georgetown Hoyas, 19.86
While missing the tournament the past three seasons hasn’t been enjoyable for Hoyas fans, Georgetown misery comes mostly from upset losses. The Hoyas have lost five times to double-digit seeds since 2008, most notably to Stephen Curry and Davidson in 2008 and as the victims of Florida Gulf Coast’s “Dunk City” display in the round of 64 in 2013.
No. 12 seeds
Marquette Golden Eagles, 19.51
Markus Howard has Marquette fans feeling good this season, but the Golden Eagles have missed four of the past five NCAA tournaments and had to watch in-state rival Wisconsin surge. That said, the Golden Eagles have a more recent national championship than the Badgers and can remember Dwyane Wade leading Marquette to the Final Four in 2003.
Oklahoma State Cowboys, 18.37
The Cowboys used to be consistent high-performers, as they made the tournament 13 times in 15 seasons from 1991 to 2005, including Final Four runs in 1995 (behind Bryant “Big Country” Reeves) and 2004. But it has been a decade since the Pokes won a tournament game and 14 years since they won any type of Big 12 championship.
Kansas State Wildcats, 18.35
You’d think there wouldn’t be much misery for the Wildcats, who are fresh off an unlikely run to the Elite 8 last season and have made the NCAA tournament eight of the past 11 years. But having Kansas as a rival skews things for K-State, as the Jayhawks are a big reason the Wildcats had only one conference title since 1980 before splitting with Texas Tech this season.
Illinois Fighting Illini, 18.24
Recent struggles have made the Illinois fan base kind of sullen, as the Fighting Illini have missed the past five tournaments and are en route to missing a sixth. While Illini fans have fond memories of the Deron Williams-Dee Brown national runner-up team in 2005, Illinois hasn’t progressed past the first weekend of the tournament since that Final Four run.
No. 13 seeds
Florida State Seminoles, 18.19
While last year’s Elite 8 run as a No. 9 seed was nice, Seminoles fans are annoyed by Leonard Hamilton’s time-management skills in that game, along with having only one ACC championship in 27 seasons.
Iowa State Cyclones, 16.92
The Cyclones have been successful and entertaining recently and are headed back to the tournament, but NCAA pitfalls (Georges Niang’s injury, Aaron Craft’s shot, upsets to UAB and Hampton) have provided some headaches.
Miami Hurricanes, 16.68
The Hurricanes have equipped themselves well since Jim Larranaga became coach, as they have been to the Sweet 16 twice and pulled the title sweep (regular-season and conference) in 2013. But the Sweet 16 is as far as the U has gone.
Baylor Bears, 16.51
It’s amazing how much Bears basketball has improved, as they went from tragedy and probation in the 2000s to being a tourney regular. The biggest Baylor angst lately is its first-round upset loss to Georgia State in 2015.
No. 14 seeds
Pittsburgh Panthers, 15.43
The Kevin Stallings era is the main source of Pitt’s misery, as the Panthers were tournament fixtures under Jamie Dixon. Scottie Reynolds’ last-second layup in the 2009 Elite 8 also gives Panthers fans the shakes.
Utah Utes, 15.21
The Utes have missed the tourney seven of the past nine seasons, but their misery primarily has to do with NCAA tourney games against Kentucky. Utah has lost six to the Wildcats since 1993, including the 1998 national title game.
Tennessee Volunteers, 15.14
The Volunteers will assuredly fall down this list next year, but last March’s last-second upset loss to Sister Jean and Loyola in the second round was enough for them to safely make it into the bracket this year.
Texas A&M Aggies, 14.11
Despite their struggles this season, the Aggies have been to the Sweet 16 two of the past three years. A&M has never been past that round, though, and it has only one conference title since 1987.
No. 15 seeds
Arkansas Razorbacks, 13.9
The “40 Minutes of Hell” era in the 1990s was big for the Razorbacks, culminating in a 1994 national title, but Arkansas hasn’t advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament since 1996.
Creighton Bluejays, 11.37
The Bluejays have been an NCAA mainstay (five tourneys in the past seven seasons) and always have bragging rights over in-state rival Nebraska but haven’t advanced to the Sweet 16 since 1974.
Memphis Tigers, 11.02
Penny Hardaway is back at a program that hasn’t gotten over Mario Chalmers’ dagger (and corresponding loss to Kansas) in the 2008 title game. It has been 10 years since the Tigers made the Sweet 16.
Texas Longhorns, 10.96
The Longhorns are a tournament staple (18 of the past 20), but Texas hasn’t made it past the first weekend since 2008 and was the victim of a half-court buzzer-beater by Northern Iowa in 2016.
No. 16 seeds/play-ins
Purdue Boilermakers, 10.85
Purdue’s misery comes from not making the Final Four since 1980, which includes being hijacked by Isaac Haas’ freak broken elbow that hindered a potential run in last year’s tournament.
Indiana Hoosiers, 10.71
You wouldn’t expect a blue blood to be in this field, but the five-time national champion Hoosiers haven’t won it all since 1987 and have qualified for only four of the past 10 tournaments.
Virginia Cavaliers, 9.03
UMBC. That letter combination makes Cavaliers fans shudder, and being the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed is enough to get Virginia into the field as a 16. Seems fitting, doesn’t it?
Cincinnati Bearcats, 8.16
The Bearcats have made the Sweet 16 once since 2001, despite playing in 12 tourneys. Last year’s second-round flameout might have been the worst, as they coughed up a 22-point lead to Nevada.
Maryland Terrapins, 7.64
The Terps have a 2002 national title to their credit but haven’t been as successful lately, winning their last conference title in 2010 and making the Sweet 16 once since 2003.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 6.93
Irish fans don’t have much to be disappointed about lately, as consecutive Elite 8 appearances in 2015 and 2016 are fresh, but losing Bonzie Colson sabotaged a potential tourney team last year.
Wichita State Shockers, 6.11
Wichita State fans have had it good lately, but an upset loss to Marshall in the first round last season and two recent losses to Kentucky, one as a No. 1 seed, have left a bit of a sting.
Oklahoma Sooners, 5.93
The Sooners skate into the field despite making the Final Four three years ago. Last season’s late skid with Trae Young, culminating in a first-round, OT loss in the tourney, was enough.
First four out
West Virginia Mountaineers, 4.29: It’s hard to get mad at five Sweet 16s and a 2010 Final Four since Bob Huggins was hired before the 2007-08 season.
Ohio State Buckeyes, 1.99: Last year’s unexpected tourney berth was another positive for a program that has been to two Final Fours since 2007.
Xavier Musketeers, -4.98: Xavier won the Big East regular-season title last year and has been to six Sweet 16s and two Elite 8s in the past 11 seasons.
Butler Bulldogs, -5.04: Butler fans still bask in the glow of making it to back-to-back national title games in 2010 and 2011.
Next four out
Oregon Ducks, -6.12: Missing the tournament last season was disappointing, but the Ducks went to an Elite 8 and Final Four the two years before that.
Michigan Wolverines, -6.93: Two national final appearances since 2013 and back-to-back Big Ten tournament titles have the Wolverines in a good place.
Louisville Cardinals, -8.88: The 2013 national title victory over Michigan still counts in the hearts of Cardinals fans, despite what the NCAA offices say.
UCLA Bruins, -11.84: Steve Alford angst is why the Bruins are here, but he’s gone and 11 national titles cause smugness — even if most of them came before you were born.
Florida Gators, -13.19
Syracuse Orange, -14.54
Arizona Wildcats, -18.21
Wisconsin Badgers, -18.72
Connecticut Huskies, -25.71
Michigan State Spartans, -29.85
Duke Blue Devils, -42.92
Gonzaga Bulldogs, -45.01
North Carolina Tar Heels, -51.34
Kentucky Wildcats, -53.07
Kansas Jayhawks, -53.22
Villanova Wildcats, -54.07
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