Table of Contents:
This is the first part in my series of Prestige Rankings for NCAA Basketball over the past 24 years. My rankings are a more accurate and simplistic approach to the Prestige Rankings released by ESPN several weeks ago. Please refer to the table of contents to view other articles in the series.
Here I will unveil all of the teams in conferences rated No. 28-32, and all of the teams rated No. 46-50.
Conferences: (Conference Rank, Team, Points, Overall Rank, ESPN’s Overall Rank)
32) Independents – Average Point Total: 0
T-1) Cal State Bakersfield – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-1) Chicago State – 0 (T-273, 296)
T-1) Longwood – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-1) N.J.I.T. – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-1) North Carolina Central – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-1) Savannah State – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-1) Texas-Pan American – 0 (T-273, T-268)
T-1) Presbyterian – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-1) Utah Valley State – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-1) Winston Salem – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
No team that is currently independent of a conference has made the NCAA tournament since 1985. That means all of these teams are part of the 68-team tie for last place. Only two of these teams have actually been around for the entire period, as most did not qualify for the ESPN Rankings.
31) Summit Conference – Average Point Total: 1.20
1) Oral Roberts – 6 (T-175, T-124)
T-2) Oakland – 2 (T-226, DNQ)
T-2) IUPUI – 2 (T-226, DNQ)
T-2) Southern Utah – 2 (T-226, T-210)
T-5) Centenary – 0 (T-273, T-268)
T-5) IPFW – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-5) North Dakota State – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-5) South Dakota State – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-5) UMKC – 0 (T-273, T-241)
T-5) Western Illinois – 0 (T-273, T-276)
The Summit Conference is what remains of the old Mid-Continent Conference. With the loss of Valparaiso and the addition of several teams new to Division 1, the conference is rated last of all the actual conferences.
No team has actually won a game in the NCAA tournament since 1985. Oral Roberts has dominated the conference for the last three years, but has been blown out in all three NCAA tournament games.
30) Northeast Conference – Average Score: 3.64
T-1) Monmouth – 8 (T-163, T-134)
T-1) Farleigh Dickinson – 8 (T-163, T-115)
T-3) Central Connecticut State – 6 (T-175, T-189)
T-3) Mount Saint Mary’s – 6 (T-175, T-206)
T-3) Robert Morris – 6 (T-175, T-175)
T-6) Wagner – 2 (T-226, T-247)
T-6) Long Island – 2 (T-226, T-260)
T-6) Saint Francis (NY) – 2 (T-226, T-260)
T-9) Quinnipiac – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-9) Sacred Heart – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-9) Saint Francis (PA) – 0 (T-273, T-276)
The Northeast Conference consistently supplies the NCAA tournament with No. 16 seeds and had not had a first round tournament win to date.
The discrepancy between the ranking systems can be seen clearly with Monmouth and Farleigh Dickinson. ESPN gives these teams credit for beating up on their conference foes, which are clearly among the weakest in Division 1. None of these teams have had tournament success to speak of.
29) Atlantic Sun Conference – Average Score: 4.67
1) East Tennessee State – 44 (T-126, T-82)
2) Belmont – 6(T-175, DNQ)
T-3) Campbell – 2 (T-226, 281)
T-3) Jacksonville – 2 (T-226, T-251)
T-3) Mercer – 2 (T-226, T-253)
T-6) North Florida – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-6) Kennesaw State – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-6) Stetson – 0 (T-273, 288)
T-6) Lipscomb – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-6) Gardner Webb – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-6) Florida Gulf Coast – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-6) USC Upstate – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
The Atlantic Sun Conference is home to more new teams than even the Summit Conference, but the success of East Tennessee State moves this conference up a few spots in the rankings.
East Tennessee State defeated No. 3 seeded Arizona in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament as a No. 14 seed. No other team from this conference has won a first round tournament match-up, although Belmont came very close to defeating No. 2 seeded Duke this past year.
28) Southland Conference – Average Score: 5.33
1) Northwestern State – 36 (T-149, T-214)
2) Texas-San Antonio – 6 (T-175, T-157)
T-3) Nicholls State – 4 (T-191, T-241)
T-3) Texas State – 4 (T-191, T-241)
T-3) McNeese State – 4 (T-191, T-185)
T-6) Texas-Arlington – 2 (T-226, T-260)
T-6) Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – 2 (T-226, DNQ)
T-6) Southeastern Louisiana – 2 (T-226, T-237)
T-6) Sam Houston State – 2 (T-226, T-201)
T-6) Lamar – 2 (T-226, T-221)
T-11) Central Arkansas – 0 (T-273, DNQ)
T-11) Stephen F. Austin – 0 (T-273, T-214)
Similar to the Atlantic Sun Conference, the Southland Conferences’ average score mainly comes from the success of Northwestern State. No. 14 seeded Northwestern State defeated No. 3 seeded Iowa in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
No other teams in the conference have won their first-round games, but most of the teams in the conference do have at least one NCAA tournament appearance.
Top 50 Teams:
50) West Virginia Mountaineers – Total Points: 248
- 1 Elite Eight Appearance, 3 Sweet Sixteen Appearances, 16 Missed Tournaments
- ESPN Rank: 67
West Virginia has really only come on as an elite basketball program in the last couple of years. They have made the Sweet Sixteen in three of the past four seasons, with an Elite Eight appearance in 2005. From 1993-2004 the Mountaineers made the tournament only once.
49) Mississippi State Bulldogs – Total Points: 252
- 1 Final Four Appearance, 1 Sweet Sixteen Appearance, 16 Missed Tournaments
- ESPN Rank: T-86
Mississippi State achieved the bulk of the success by making the Sweet Sixteen in 1995 and then the Final Four in 1996. However, they also won all but two of their first round games, which is what put them ahead of West Virginia.
T-47) Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Total Points: 278
- 2 Sweet Sixteen Appearances, 13 Missed Tournaments
- ESPN Rank: T-86
The Irish have participated in the tournament just under half of the years, but have never made it past the round of sixteen. They failed to qualify for the tournament for ten years in a row from 1991-2000, which hurt their chances to be higher in the rankings greatly. Notre Dame has advanced the first round in eight of their eleven appearances, putting them among the top 50 teams.
T-47) Virginia Cavaliers – Total Points: 278
- 2 Elite Eight Appearances, 1 Sweet Sixteen Appearance, 13 Missed Tournaments
- ESPN Rank: T-70
Virginia’s win over Albany in the 2007 tournament was the Cavalier’s first tournament victory since the 1995 season, when they made the Elite Eight. Most of Virginia’s success was sandwiched between their two Elite Eight appearances in 1989 and 1995.
Five first round losses and very little recent success keeps UVA at the bottom of the top 50.
46) Tulsa Golden Hurricane – Total Points: 302
- 1 Elite Eight Appearance, 2 Sweet Sixteen Appearances, 13 Missed Tournaments
- ESPN Rank: 39
Out of all of the top 50 teams, Tulsa is from the lowest rated conference (WAC is the 13th rated conference).
Almost all of Tulsa’s success came between 1993 and 2004, and they have not been back to the tournament since. Their high rating can be attributed to the fact that they have made it to at least the second round seven times in the 24-year time frame.