One of the things that distinguishes college basketball from college football (other than the obvious fact that there is no real champion in college football) is that you’re never out of it.
Take Coppin State for example. Last year, the Eagles won the MEAC conference with a stunning upset of Morgan State in the finals. Hence, Coppin State, at 16-20, became the team with the worst record ever to make March Madness.
Division 1 has 341 teams in mens’ basketball. Every one has a chance to make it to March Madness, but, in fact, 46 teams have never participated in the Big Dance. Last year, Texas-Arlington made their first ever appearance and earned the privilege of meeting Memphis in the first round.
The biggest losers over the 62 year history of the NCAA Tournament include five schools who have been eligible every year, but have never participated. The biggest losers include Army, William & Mary, St. Francis of NY, The Citadel, and Northwestern.
As an owner of a business in Evanston, I’ve been to Northwestern basketball games and the fan support was terrible. I don’t see them turning things around in the Big Ten any time soon. Last season’s 1-17 Big Ten mark and an exhibition loss to Robert Morris (IL) at home do little to offer encouragement.
As for the 46 who are eligible this year, but haven’t qualified to date, there’s one that is a pretty safe bet to not make it again in 2009. The least likely school to be dancing in March — New Jersey Institute of Technology which went a perfect 0-29 in their first year at the D-1 level last year.