Sure all our brackets are busted. But at least 68 teams got to go to the dance. Then, some of us have never been asked.
Alas, the John Evan’s schools remain in the Never Made the Tournament Club (NMTC) – 2016. Denver made it to the Summit Semis and then got knocked out by South Dakota State, the eventual winner of the Summit League automatic bid. A 56 year drought. Northwestern was a 9 seed in the Big 10 Tournament and immediately got bounced by #8 Big 10 seed Michigan. A 76 year drought. Ironically, the former coach at Northwestern, Bill Carmody, who ran the Princeton system and was fired after 13 years at NU, immediately went to Holy Cross and won a tournament bid this year. The last time Holy Cross received a bid was 1953. Despite not getting the Northwestern program to the NCAA tournament, Carmody took the Wildcats to the NIT four years in a row before his firing.
Naismith invented basketball in 1891, well after Northwestern was founded by John Evans in 1851 and DU in 1864. While we can’t blame Evans for Northwestern and Denver ineptitude at basketball, it will be interesting to see which school makes it first. One argument has more opportunities and bids extended to the Big 10 conference members – they have had 7 members make the dance each of the last two years. However, others might argue that the Summit League, despite being a 1-bid conference, is an easier conference to win.
Denver played basketball at the regional level prior to WWII and at the Division I level between the 1940 and 1979, dropping down levels between 1979 to 1998. DU moved back up to Division 1 in 1998. The Pioneers have been a member of The Summit League since July, 2013.
Northwestern only has two graduating seniors this year and they had four freshman that made the roster this year. Their young coach, Chris Collins, a former assistant at Duke will be in his 3rd season next year. DU has a whopping nine freshmen scholarship and non-scholarship players on the squad this year and a new coach in Rodney Billups. Both teams look to break the streak over the next several years. An educated guess would favor Northwestern to stop the skid first.
There are currently five schools that have had a Division I basketball program since the inception of the tournament in 1939 who have failed to make the tournament – Army, The Citadel, Northwestern, St. Francis, and William & Mary. (Army actually got invited but elected to play in the then, prestigious NIT.)
Congratulations go out to Stony Brook and Cal-State Bakersfield – both programs left the club this year.
Below is a list, by conference, of club members:
American East: Hartford Hawks, Maine Black Bears, New Hampshire Wildcats,
Stony Brook Seawolves, UMass Lowell River Hawks (Note:The state of Maine is the only US state that has not been represented at March Madness)