The NCAA Tournament is in the air everywhere you look around, but some teams haven’t been in it for a long time. In fact, there are 10 teams from the power/major conferences (which we decided the Big East belong in) that haven’t played in it for the last 8 years, including one that’s never been there. This season, for some of them, the drought is about to end.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
With a 9-9 conference record and going 19-11 overall, it looks like Texas Tech are about to make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007. That was back in the Bob Knight era, taking them to four NCAA Tournaments during his stretch in Lubbock, including making it to the Sweet Sixteen in 2005, which is tied for their best ever finish.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Like Texas Tech, the Hokies haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2007, back when Seth Greenberg was their head coach. They haven’t won more than one game in the tournament since 1967, when they were stopped in the Elite Eight. This year? Bubble team, but probably out without winning the ACC Tournament.
Seton Hall Pirates
After not making the tournament since 2006, it looks like the Pirates, who were 12-6 this season in the Big East, are going to play in the NCAA Tournament, a first for them under Kevin Willard, who has been coaching them since 2010.
DePaul had a rough 2015-2016 season as Dave Leitao returned to the head coaching position, going just 3-15 in the Big East. He was their head coach in 2004, the last time they made the NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina Gamecocks
The Gamecocks went 11-7 in the SEC in 2015-2016, their best conference record under Frank Martin. Is it enough to put them in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004, when Dave Odom was their head coach? Most Bracketologists think so, maybe thanks to their win against Texas A&M.
The Bruce Pearl era isn’t going all that well, with a 9-27 conference record in two seasons. Despite beating Kentucky earlier this year, Auburn are going to be out of the NCAA Tournament once again, the last time they made it being 2003, when they reached the Sweet Sixteen with Cliff Ellis on the sidelines.
TCU Horned Frogs
They went 2-16 in the Big 12 this season and are 8-64 in conference play under Trent Johnson since 2013. In short, they’re nowhere near making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998, when they were coached by Billy Tubbs.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
They went 1-17 this season in the Big Ten, with their win over Minnesota on the last game of the season being their first after 32 consecutive conference losses. In short, Eddie Jordan, once an NBA coach with a few playoff appearances, isn’t close to being the first to take Rutgers to the NCAA Tournament since 1991. Bob Wenzel was the head coach back then.
Oregon State Beavers
Being a bubble team heading into Championship week isn’t too bad when you’re Oregon State, who haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1990. They went 9-9 this season in the Pac-12, finishing with a road win over UCLA, and also beating USC earlier in conference play. Things haven’t been too bad under Wayne Tinkle, trying to be the first since Jim Anderson to get OSU into the final 64. In the 1980s, Oregon State missed the tournament only three times from 1980 to 1990, but three of those trips have been vacated.
Never. Actually, going 8-10 in the Big Ten, finishing strong with three straight wins, is pretty good for the Wildcats, marking their best season under Chris Collins and ties their best Big Ten win total in a season over the last 83 years.