We’re not too far from the day a committee sits down and chooses who makes it into the NCAA Tournament. There are quite a few teams who have gone for quite some time without taking part of College Basketball’s biggest festival. There are also quite a few teams in 2017 that seem to be on the verge of breaking a very long drought.
Here are the 10 teams with the longest active NCAA Tournament droughts among the power conferences (P5+Big East), and a minor mention of anyone else who has at least four years of NCAA Tournament celibacy at the moment.
9-10. Boston College Eagles – Last time in 2009
With a 2-12 record in the ACC, including 10 consecutive losses, it’s hard to see Boston College making their way into their first NCAA Tournament after missing the last seven. At least they won in the ACC this season after going 0-18 in conference play last year.
9-10. Mississippi State Bulldogs – Since 2009
The Bulldogs are pretty much where they were last season, going 5-8 in the SEC so far in Ben Howland’s second season in Starkville. They did beat Arkansas on the road, but that’s probably the most impressive moment as their NCAA Tournament drought will probably continue if their league play is any indicator.
8. Washington State Cougars – Since 2008
The Cougs had a decent start in Pac-12 play this season, but soon fell to familiar regions, going just 4-9 in conference play. The last time the Cougars were in the tournament they made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen, but it’s probably not happening in 2017.
7. Virginia Tech Hokies – Since 2007
Believe it or not, but Buzz Williams Hokies could end up making the Dance, perhaps even without winning the ACC Tournament. They’re 7-6 in the ACC, with wins against Duke and Virginia. A strong finish could see them making the tournament for only the ninth time in program history.
5-6. DePaul Blue Demons – Since 2004
The Blue Demons won’t be making the NCAA Tournament out of the Big East this season, as Dave Leitao’s second season isn’t going as planned. They’re only 1-12 in conference play, losing their last nine games, their only conference comfort being a win against Providence. Repeating their Final Four days from 1979 are going to have to wait.
5-6. South Carolina Gamecocks – Since 2004
After last year’s disappointing finish, the Gamecocks, ranked 21st nationally, are finally on their way to the big dance unless they have an massive collapse before the finish line.
4. Auburn Tigers – Since 2003
Into Bruce Pearl’s third season with the Tigers, and things are getting better, but very slowly. Auburn are probably going to post their best season under Pearl when it’s all said and done, but unless they pull off a stunning conference tournament upset, it’ll be 14 consecutive seasons without making the NCAA Tournament.
3. TCU Horned Frogs – Since 1998
In Jamie Dixon’s 1st season as TCU’s head coach, we’re past the midway line in February and they’re still in the picture, which is saying something. A brutal stretch that includes at Iowa State, at Kansas and home to West Virginia will probably make or break their chances of being taken into consideration when the brackets are made.
2. Rutgers Scarlet Knights – Since 1991
Steve Pikiell came from Stony Brook to Rutgers. He hasn’t been able to make a difference so far, as the Scarlet Knights find themselves padding the bottom of the conference with a 2-12 record so far. In the Big Ten, the project of building this basketball program into something is even more difficult.
1. Northwestern Wildcats – Never
The unbelievable might happen. Following their 66-59 win over Wisconsin, the Wildcats under Chris Collins are 4th in the Big Ten with a 8-4 record. Last season, with 8 conference wins, was a sign of things to come. Northwestern won’t win their first conference championship since 1933, but keeping the boat steady in a weaker-than-usual Big Ten should put them in the NCAA Tournament.
Other teams with a 4-year drought or longer:
Alabama – 2012
Florida State – 2012
Clemson – 2011
Penn State – 2011
Washington – 2011
Georgia Tech – 2010
Wake Forest – 2010