Sunday, January 10, 2010

NCAA Tournament Droughts

Yesterday, in the NFL Playoffs, one long drought ended and another one continued. The Dallas Cowboys won their first playoff game since 1996. They were one of 6 teams that had not won a playoff game since the 1990's. The team that has gone the longest without a playoff win is the Cincinnati Bengals who last won a playoff game January 6, 1991 against the Houston Oilers. (For those that are too young to remember, that is the team that the Tennessee Titans used to be.)

This is a blog about the NCAA Tournament, not the NFL, but I started thinking about the playoff droughts and wondered who had the longest droughts in the NCAA Tournament. First I started with longest drought since last win. Unlike the NFL, where almost every team has won a playoff game (except the Houston Texans), only about half the teams have won NCAA Tournament games. Therefore, to qualify for longest drought, the team actually had to win a game first. Winless teams obviously have had longer droughts (infinite), but I am looking at time since last win.

The 5 teams that have the longest droughts are:
  1. Baylor - defeated Brigham Young 56-55 on 3/23/1950 in the Elite Eight
  2. CCNY - defeated Bradley 71-68 on 3/28/1950 in the National Championship
  3. Lebanon Valley - defeated Fordham 80-67 on 3/10/1953 in the First Round (Round of 32)
  4. Holy Cross - defeated Wake Forest 79-71 on 3/13/1953 in the Elite Eight
  5. Rice - defeated Colorado 78-55 on 3/13/1954 in the Regional Third Place game
Out of those teams, only Baylor is in a "BCS" conference and has the best chance of ending their drought. CCNY and Lebanon Valley are no longer Division I schools. Some other notable schools that have long droughts include:
  • South Carolina - last win in 1973
  • Oregon State - last win in 1982
  • Rutgers - last win in 1983
  • Houston - last win in 1984 (in the Final Four - lost to Georgetown in the Championship)
  • Massachusetts - last win in 1996 (in the Elite Eight - lost to Kentucky in the Final Four)
  • Minnesota - last win in 1997 (in the Elite Eight - lost to Kentucky in the Final Four)
Not winning an NFL playoff game usually means that you did not make it to the final 8 in playoffs. So I decided to also see who has the longest drought since their last Elite Eight appearance. The 5 schools that have gone the longest since their last Elite Eight appearance are:
  1. Brown - 1939
  2. Springfield - 1940
  3. Creighton - 1941
  4. Washington State -1941
  5. Rice - 1942
Washington State is the only BCS school in the list. Other notable schools include:
  • Baylor - 1950
  • Washington - 1953
  • California - 1960
  • Arizona State - 1975
  • DePaul - 1979
  • Notre Dame - 1979
  • Clemson - 1980
  • North Carolina State - 1986
  • Iowa - 1987
  • Kansas State - 1988
Washington has been to the Sweet Sixteen four times since 1953, but the two most notable games are when they were defeated by Connecticut on a last second shot by Richard Hamilton in 1998 and lost in overtime to Connecticut in 2006 when Rashad Anderson hit a game-tying three-pointer for UConn to send it into overtime.

Clemson also reached the Sweet Sixteen in 1990 and was defeated by (you guessed it) UConn on a (yep) last-second shot by Tate George.

Iowa also faced UConn in the 1999 Sweet Sixteen, but it ended in less dramatic fashion with a 78-68 victory by UConn.

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