College Basketball: The Worst Seasons in D-I History
The regular season is coming to a close. We have heard a lot about of this season's success stories—Ohio State, Duke, Texas, BYU and San Diego State among many others.
It is great to hear about the teams that are going to be fixtures in the upcoming weeks and the NCAA Tournament, but there has not been much conversation about the other end of the spectrum, those teams that are not enjoying success.
This article takes a look at those teams that have struggled, not only this season, but across time. Only teams competing at the highest level will be examined, so, for example, the D-III California Tech Beavers will not be examined.
Let the list and the debate begin.
Close, but Not Quite
The following teams demonstrated that success was hard to find. Some teams managed to go the whole season without a win, others snuck out a win against a weaker opponent or one from a lower division.
Others actually found a way to get a "W" multiple times, but still showed to be one of the worst teams in NCAA history. While bad, each of these teams were just a little too good to make the top 10.
2009-10 Alcorn State Braves (2-29)
• Highlights: Defeated Mississippi Valley State, 55-54, and Prairie View, 69-67.
• Lowlights: Lost to Ohio State, 60-100; Arkansas, 68-130; Kansas, 31-98; UTEP, 41-101.
• Notes: Started the season with a 24-game losing streak. PPG: 60.6, Opp. PPG: 82.0.
2006-07 Iona Gaels (2-28)
• Highlights: Defeated Rider, 69-57, and Delaware, 52-50.
• Lowlights: Lost to Maryland, 57-88.
• Notes: Started the season with a 22-game losing streak. PPG: 58.6, Opp. PPG: 69.9.
2004-05 Longwood Lancers (1-30)
• Highlights: Defeated Howard, 75-69; Lost to James Madison, 70-72.
• Lowlights: Lost to San Francisco, 49-82; Wake Forest, 47-88.
• Notes: Longwood was in the process of Division I reclassification. Had losing streaks of 11 and 19 games in the season. PPG: 61.5, Opp. PPG: 80.3.
2008-09 New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders (1-30)
• Highlights: Defeated Bryant, 61-51.
• Lowlights: Lost to Utah Valley, 39-89.
• Notes: NJIT was in the process of Division I reclassification. Started the season with a 18-game losing streak. Ended 51-game losing streak with lone win. PPG: 49.8, Opp. PPG: 67.2.
2005-06 Savannah State Tigers (2-28)
• Highlights: Defeated Wilberforce, 63-59, and Longwood, 70-69.
• Lowlights: Lost to Colorado, 52-116; Oregon, 23-83.
• Notes: Had losing streaks of 10 and 18 games in the season. PPG: 56.4, Opp. PPG: 81.7.
10. 2009-10 Marist Red Foxes (1-29)
Marist came into the 2009-10 season off a 10-23 season and were led by second-year coach Chuck Martin. The struggles from the previous season worsened in 2009-10 as Marist finished the campaign 1-29 and garnered a last-place finish in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (1-17).
The Red Foxes' lone win of the season was a 72-66 victory over Manhattan. Marist had seven games that were decided by under 10 points. While Marist lost 16 games by more than 10 points, only three were above 20 points, which is uncommon amongst the teams on the list.
Marist had significant struggles offensively as they only averaged 56.1 PPG while giving up 70.5 PPG. Coach Martin returned for the 2010-11 season, but did not see significantly improvement as they stand at 5-25.
9. 1999-2000 Grambling Tigers (1-30)
Grambling came into the 1999-2000 season off a 6-21 season and were led by first-year coach Larry Wright. The struggles from the previous season continued in 1999-2000 as Grambling finished the campaign 1-30 and garnered a last-place finish in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (0-18).
Grambling’s one win was a 102-90 win over NAIA-member Jarvis Christian College.
The Tigers had their fair share of heartbreak during the season as they had nine games that were decided by under 10 points, including a one-point loss to Alabama State (66-67) and three-point losses to Louisiana-Monroe (76-79) and Prairie View (83-86).
Unfortunately, there were also their fair share of blowouts, like their 112-37 loss to LSU and they finished the season with a 25-game losing streak.
The Tigers had significant struggles on defense as they gave up 90.8 PPG while only averaging 72.0 PPG. The challenges that the Tigers had continued as Coach Wright returned for the following season and led Grambling to an 8-18 season.
8. 2010-11 Centenary Gentlemen (1-29)
Centenary came into the 2010-11 season off a 8-21 season. The Gentlemen were led by first-year coach Adam Walsh.
The Gentlemen are moving to Division III starting in 2011-12 and struggled because of this as the Gentlemen had only four scholarship players. With a roster preparing for D-III, Centenary struggled accordingly, finishing the campaign 1-29 and had a last-place finish in the Summit League (1-17).
The Gentlemen’s lone win of the season was a 73-60 victory over Western Illinois University in their next to last game.
Centenary had five games that were decided by under 10 points, coming closest against UMKC (71-67) and Western Illinois (57-51). While Centenary lost 16 games by 20 or more points, highlighted by losses to Memphis (104-40), Tulane (77-36) and LSU (78-36).
Centenary had significant struggles offensively as they only averaged 59.1 PPG while giving up 80.7 PPG. Coach Walsh will be leading the 2011-12 in their inaugural season in the American Southwest Conference.
7. 1936-37 William & Mary Tribe (0-18)
William & Mary came into the 1936-37 season off a 11-6 season and were led by third-year coach Thomas Dowler.
They had two-straight winning seasons under Dowler, but that changed in 1936-37 as William & Mary finished the campaign 0-18 and secured a last-place finish in their first season in the Southern Conference (0-13).
The Tribe had five games that were decided by under 10 points, including close losses to Virgina (30-33) and VMI (39-42). Unfortunately for William & Mary, there were many struggles as highlighted by huge losses to Washington & Lee (15-64) and North Carolina State (20-58).
William & Mary had significant struggles offensively as they only averaged 24.7 PPG while giving up 44.9 PPG. Dowler did not return to the team for the 1937-38 season, but unfortunately for The Tribe, they had similar results as they went 2-10 under John Kellison.
6. 2007-08 NJIT Highlanders (0-29)
The New Jersey Institute of Technology came into the 2007-08 season off a 5-24 season, their first as the Highlanders started their reclassification to Division I. The Highlanders were led by fifth-year coach Jim Casciano.
The difficulties continued for NJIT as they finished the 2007-08 campaign with a 0-29 record.
The Highlanders, who were only 11 years removed from being in Division III, had 14 games where they were outscored by over 20 points, with losses to Washington (47-99), Manhattan (28-70) and Fordham (44-88) being the most lopsided.
NJIT’s struggles were highlighted by the fact that they just had two games that were decided under 10 points—nine-point losses to Leigh (58-67) and Stony Brook (53-62).
The Highlanders had significant struggles offensively as they averaged 55.9 PPG while giving up 77.0 PPG. The difficulties did not end on the court for NJIT as Coach Casciano missed 12 games early in the season due to health reasons. Assistant coach Wendell Alexis served as interim coach during his absence.
Casciano did not return to the Highlanders for the following season , but the results were similar for Jim Engles’ first squad as the NJIT finished 1-30. There have been positives as NJIT ended their 51-game losing streak that season and the team continues to improve, winning double-digit games in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
5. 1954-55 The Citadel Bulldogs (0-17)
The Citadel came into the 1954-55 season off a 1-19 season with a 16-game losing streak and were led by first-year head coach Jim Browning.
The struggles from the previous season continued in 1954-55 as The Citadel finished the campaign 0-27 and finishing last in the Southern Conference (0-10).
The Bulldogs only had one game that was decided by under 10 points (Furman, 24-26). Unfortunately for The Citadel, there were many more struggles as seen by a huge loss to Furman, 67-154. In an even more embarrassing moment, they lost an exhibition to the Parris Island Marines, 54-125.
The Citadel had significant struggles defensively as they gave up 87.4 PPG while only averaging 61.4 PPG. Browing did not return to the team for the next season, but the results were similar as the Bulldogs went 2-19 under Hank Witt’s leadership.
While the struggles continued another season, the Bulldogs had a string of success start when Norm Sloan took the helm of The Citadel in 1956-57.
4. 2004-05 Savannah State Tigers (0-28)
Savannah State came into the 2004-05 season off a 4-24 record and were led by second-year coach Ed Daniels. The struggles continued for Savannah State as they finished the season 0-28 and a 30-game losing streak.
The Tigers only had four games that were decided by under 10 points, with a 49-44 loss to Florida A&M being the closest they came to victory. Unfortunately, their inability for close games was some of struggles for Savannah State as highlighted by a 102-40 loss to Memphis.
The Tigers had significant defensive struggles as they gave up 81.2 PPG while scoring just 58.0 PPG. The following season Coach Daniels’ squad won their opener against Wilberforce on their way to a 2-28 season (and an honorable mention spot on this list).
3. 1917-18 Dartmouth Big Green (0-26)
Dartmouth came into the 1917-18 season off a 10-12 record. They had not had a winning season in the previous five seasons.
In addition to the struggles on the court, the Big Green had significant turnover in the coaching position, with F.H. Walker being the sixth coach in seven seasons. The struggles continued in the 1917-18 as Dartmouth finished the campaign 0-26 and had a last-place finish in the Ivy League (0-10)
The Big Green had their fair share of heartbreak during the season as they had nine games that were decided by under 10 points, including two-point losses to Pratt Institute (20-22) and Columbia (21-23).
Unfortunately, there were also their fair share of blowouts, like their 54-14 and 44-5 losses to Cornell.
The Big Green had significant defensive struggles as they gave up 82.0 PPG while only scoring 60.6 PPG.
Dartmouth did not field a team for the 1918-19 season, but came back for the 1919-20 season with George Zahn at the helm. While the Big Green finished 5-20 that season, it was their last losing season for the next 24 seasons.
2. 1991-92 Prairie View A&M Panthers (0-28)
Prairie View A&M came into 1991-92 off a 4-21 season and were led by second-year coach Elwood Plummer. The struggles continued for the Panthers as they finished the season 0-28, with a last-place finish in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (0-14).
A sign of the struggles that the Panthers faced was the fact that they had zero games that were decided by under 10 points. Unfortunately for Prairie View, there were many more challenges for this team, as highlighted by huge losses to Central Michigan (55-115), Alabama-Birmingham (49-110) and Tulane (54-120).
The Panthers had significant struggles stopping their opponents as they gave up 99.0 PPG while only scoring 64.5 PPG.
The following season, Plummer returned and led the Panthers to a 1-26 record.
1. 1944-45 Baylor Bears (0-17)
Baylor came into 1944-45 off a 6-12 season. They had not had a winning season since 1941-42.
The Bears were led by coach Van Sweet (in his second season). The struggles continued for Baylor as they finished the 1944-45 season 0-17 and secured a last-place finish in the Southwest Conference (0-12).
The Bears only had one game that was decided by under 10 points, a 29-28 loss to Texas A&M. Unfortunately for Baylor, there were many struggles, as highlighted by huge losses to Arkansas (28-94) and Rice (24-95).
The Bears had significant struggles scoring as they averaged only 28.1 PPG while allowing their opponents to average 61.7 PPG. A coaching change took place in mid-season as Sweet was replaced by Jeff Mangold for the final six contests.
The following season the Bears had one of the most impressive single season turnarounds in NCAA history. Baylor was led by new coach Bill Henderson and went on to a 25-5 record reaching the regional semifinals.