Ranking the Top Programs of the 21st Century: #150 – #101
What does Boston College, Baylor, Texas A&M, USC, Cal, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Florida State have in common? Many may say that they are high major programs, or that they have been somewhat successful, or even that they are a well-known program. However, their true similarity is an unfortunate one: they all suffer from blue blood syndrome. Blue blood syndrome is when the blue bloods dominate the leagues and leave very little chances for other programs to win a league championship. Each of the above programs have had success in the NCAA tournament and they have been able to recruit high major players but they struggle to overcome the success of the blue bloods.
# 150 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
Their magical run to the Final Four in 2018 sums up the Ramblers success in the 21st century. With stints in the Horizon, Missouri Valley, and the Midwestern Collegiate Conferences the team has rounded up a 292-302 (.492) record.
Rating Score: 12.54
# 149 Eastern Washington Eagles
The Eagles haven’t made much of a name for themselves out of the Big Sky. However they have reached two NCAA tournaments and three regular season championships.
Rating Score: 12.64
# 148 Niagara Purple Eagles
From the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference the Eagles can also claim two trips to the NCAA tournament as well as three regular season titles. Niagara sits right under .500 with a 299-301 (.498) record.
Rating Score: 12.71
# 147 Fresno State Bulldogs
Fresno States move from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West was a great for the program. However, the MWC has been down the past couple of years and has only been a one bid league. The Bulldogs can claim three trips to the Big Dance with an appearance in the round of 32.
Rating Score: 12.94
# 146 Arkansas Razorbacks
The Razorbacks have struggled to break through. As a member of the SEC they can only claim one conference tournament title but have been dancing in six different seasons and have been as high as a five seed. The issue is the lack of success as they have failed to reach the Sweet 16 in all of those appearances.
Rating Score: 13.05
# 145 South Carolina Gamecocks
The Gamecocks propelled themselves in the rankings with a trip to the Final Four in 2017. As a member of the SEC they have been able to capture one regular season title and two trips to the NCAA tournament. South Carolina has been able to get the job done as they have went 331-289 (.534) during that span.
Rating Score: 13.08
# 144 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
As a member of both the Big South and Sun Belt the Chanticleers have been a steady program finishing in the top of their conference most years. They’ve went 311-279 (.527) while on their way to capture three regular season titles and winning their conference tournament twice to reach the NCAA tournament.
Rating Score: 13.44
# 143 South Carolina State Bulldogs
South Carolina State has had a great deal of success during the regular season in the MEAC. In the last 19 years they have captured four regular season titles but have only reached the Big Dance twice. The Bulldogs would fall much further if placed in another conference.
Rating Score: 13.64
# 142 Central Michigan Chippewas
With the MAC split into the North and South divisions the Chippewas have been able to claim five regular season titles however have only won the MAC tournament once to advance to the NCAA’s and move onto the round of 32.
Rating Score: 13.65
# 141 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
The Patriot League seems to be a tough out come March and Lehigh is no exception. The Mountain Hawks have reached the round of 32 in one of their three tournament appearances as well as claiming two regular season titles.
Rating Score: 13.94
# 140 UNC Greensboro Spartans
The Spartans have held their own in the Southern conference while being crowned regular season champs four times. However, they struggle in the Southern conference tournament as they have only made the Big Dance twice and have been unable to pick up a win.
Rating Score: 13.94
# 139 Hofstra Pride
Hofstra ha had their ups and downs over the years in the Colonial and American East conferences, but have managed to reach the NCAA tournament twice under Jay Wright. With three regular season titles the Pride have earned their place in the top 150.
Rating Score: 13.97
# 138 George Washington Colonials
The Colonials have been ranked as high as sixth in the country but have been unable to maintain success. Two A-10 regular and tournament titles and four trips to the Big Dance highlight their success. A win over UNC Wilmington in the 2006 Tournament has helped their success.
Rating Score: 14.09
# 137 Ohio Bobcats
Three trips to the NCAA tournament and only one first round loss with a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2012 have bought the Bobcats this far. The lack of success in the regular season has been disappointing as they have only managed to claim the crown once.
Rating Score: 14.29
# 136 Long Island Blackbirds
Four NCAA tournament appearances and nothing but loses to show. The Northeast conference has been a tough road for the Blackbirds. With two championships they have struggled overall with a 270-302 (.472) record.
Rating Score: 14.40
# 135 Central Connecticut State Blue Devils
Another Northeast conference team with very little success to show. The Blue Devils have earned their place in the tournament three times but have also failed to reach the second round. With three Northeast crowns the Blue Devils are just a step above.
Rating Score: 14.53
# 134 Appalachian State Mountaineers
As a member of the Southern and Sun Belt conferences the Mountaineers have managed to rack up five regular season titles. However their success stops there. Only one chance to make a Cinderella story come true, and nothing to show.
Rating Score: 14.63
# 133 Saint Louis Bilikens
The Bilikens have reached as high as 10 in the AP poll. They have claimed two titles in Conference USA and the A-10 and have reached the Big Dance in four different seasons. Saint Louis has done a great job in the round of 64 but has been unable to conjure that success to a Sweet 16 run as they were also unable to maintain their run that Rick Majerus set up for them.
Rating Score: 14.92
# 132 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Three appearances in the Big Dance and one trip to the round of 32 have helped the Warriors attain this spot. As a member of the WAC and Big West the Warriors have won only two regular season title but hold an impressive 339-252 (.574) record.
Rating Score: 15.20
# 131 Northwestern State Demons
Mike McConathy has been with the program since the start of the century and besides being a member of the Southland Conference during that stretch as well, that has been about the only consistency for the program. One win in 2006 in the NCAA tournament highlights the programs success with two other trips and three regular season championships.
Rating Score: 15.29
# 130 Vanderbilt Commodores
The Commodores have been a pretty consistent sight in March as they have reached the tournament eight times. They have been ranked as high as seventh in the country and have reached the Sweet 16 twice. However as a member of the SEC they only have one Championship of any kind coming in the SEC tournament in 2012.
Rating Score: 15.54
# 129 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Eight tournaments is nothing to be upset about and the Demon Deacons have reached a number one ranking in two separate seasons (’04-’05, ’08-’09). They have reached the Sweet 16 once and have made it to the round of 32 four other times. Wake Forest however cannot get over the hump in the ACC as they can only claim one regular season title and have never received an automatic birth to the Big Dance.
Rating Score: 15.66
# 128 Florida State Seminoles
Florida State has steadily been climbing the ranking over the past few years. Over the first nine years of the century the program achieved zero trips to the NCAA tournament. But over the last 10 years the Seminoles have reached the tournament six times. They have played in an Elite Eight and Sweet 16. However, like most ACC teams they have struggled to get over the hump as they too can only claim one ACC tournament title.
Rating Score: 15.89
# 127 California Golden Bears
Cal is another example of a decent program that has a hard time staying consistent. They have made it to nine NCAA tournaments but have failed to reach the Sweet 16 in all nine of them. They also fall victim to the classic blue blood as they have only managed one Pac-12 title within the century.
Rating Score: 16.13
# 126 Boston Terriers
The Terriers have held their own as members of both the America East and Patriot leagues. With four regular season titles to boast and two NCAA appearances Boston has been a strong formidable foe.
# 125 UC Irvine Anteaters
As a member of the Big West, UC Irvine has laid a claim to five regular season titles in the last 19 seasons. A pretty impressive feat for a team that has only been able to claim one tournament title in order to play in the NCAA tournament. Overall the team sits at 339-275 (.552) during this stretch.
Rating Score: 16.84
# 124 South Alabama Jaguars
Like many other teams South Alabama has been a hard team to beat out in the Sun Belt. In total they have won five regular season titles but have only been to the Big Dance twice losing in the first round in both years. They have had some stellar years but tend to fall short and are 303-281(.519) overall.
Rating Score: 16.86
# 123 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
The Gauchos have been consistent totaling 321 wins. They have been a force to reckon’ with in the Big West as they have claimed three regular season and tournament titles. Moving forward in the NCAA will only help the program as they have been stifled in the Big Dance.
Rating Score: 16.97
# 122 USC Trojans
Another team that has fallen victim to the powerhouses in the conference. USC has only been able to accumulate one Pac-12 tournament title and hasn’t been able to achieve the crowning glory of being named the regular season champs. On the positive side they have been to the NCAA’s 8 times making it to the Elite Eight and the Sweet 16 as well as achieving a ranking as high as 10 in the AP poll. More traction in the Pac-12 will certainly move this squad up on the list.
Rating Score: 17.08
# 121 Monmouth Hawks
The Hawks are a solid team who has struggled being in a smaller conference. As a member of the Northeast conference they made the Big Dance three times and have been unable to do so now as a member of the MAAC. They have had their ups and downs but when up they were good winning three regular season titles and even obtaining 27 wins in consecutive seasons from 2015-2017.
Rating Score: 17.12
# 120 American Eagles
As a member of the Colonial and Patriot leagues the American Eagles have been able to pick up three regular season titles and have been crowned champs three more times in their conference tournaments. With these three titles they have moved forward onto the NCAA’s where they have been unable to pick up any long lasting success.
Rating Score: 17.44
# 119 Old Dominion Monarchs
The Monarchs have been a very scary mid-major program and has been a very tough out for many teams. Old Dominion has made the field of 64 four times but have only made it to the second round once. They could be labeled as the definition of consistency as they have racked up 13 winning seasons and 10 seasons with at least 20 wins. They have a winning percentage of .613 as they have accumulated 380 total wins.
Rating Score: 17.47
# 118 Troy Trojans
The Trojans have been able to put together a few impressive regular seasons which led to them being crowned the Sun Belt champs five times. However, they have only been successful in the tournament twice and have fallen in the first round of the Big Dance in both of those years.
Rating Score: 17.69
# 117 Albany Great Danes
This team started as a division I program at the start of the century and their program has grown greatly over the years. The Great Danes can only claim two regular season titles but find a great deal of success with their backs against the walls as they have slayed the America East five times to reach the NCAA tournament. This is a program on the rise and have been a tough out for a while.
Rating Score: 17.93
# 116 Long Beach State 49ers
Long Beach State is a team that really challenges themselves throughout the season as they play powerhouse after powerhouse all over the country. The challenging schedule has paid off for the most part as the 49ers have been able to secure five regular season Big West titles. But, they have struggled in the Big West tournament and have only moved on twice to the Big Dance.
Rating Score: 17.96
# 115 Wofford Terriers
Since the 2009-2010 season the Terriers have been a solid mid-major program exceeding a 20-win season five times. They have also claimed the Southern regular season three times while winning the conference tournament in four different seasons. The Terriers have been unlucky when playing in March as they have been unable to pass the first round.
Rating Score: 18.26
# 114 Austin Peay Governors
The Governors of Austin Peay were able to go undefeated in conference during the 2003-2004 season but were unable to make the Big Dance. Overall they have competed in March three times and called themselves Ohio Valley champs on four different occasions.
Rating Score: 18.57
# 113 Buffalo Bulls
Bobby Hurley got the program started and Nate Oats has kept the success going. The Bulls have won at least 20 games in three of the last four years and have made it to the tournament in all of those years including demolishing Arizona in 2018. Throughout the century they have been able to capture four MAC regular seasons and three tournament titles.
Rating Score: 18.74
# 112 Manhattan Jaspers
The Jaspers have always been a tough team in the MAAC. Always near the top of the standings and always putting up a fight, Manhattan has claimed three regular season championships and four times have made it to the NCAA tournament and upset Florida in 2004.
Rating Score: 18.91
# 111 North Carolina Central Eagles
Only a major school and Division I program since the 2012-2013 season the Eagles have made a name for themselves in the MEAC. With only eight seasons in the “big leagues” they have been crowned MEAC champs three times and have won the tournament three times also to embark on into the NCAA tournament.
Rating Score: 19.16
# 110 North Dakota State Bison
Also a newish program to be considered a major Division I program, the Bison have only been around for 10 years. In five of those seasons they had at least 20 wins. North Dakota State has been crowned Summit Champs three times and have played in the Big Dance three times as well. Their crowning achievement so far has been there upset of Oklahoma in the 2014 tournament.
Rating Score: 19.38
# 109 Oakland Golden Grizzlies
The Grizzlies became a program at the start of the century and have taken heart as a tough Michigan school. Oakland has been apart of the Mid-Continent, Summit, and Horizon leagues while claiming a total of four regular season titles. They have been steadily increasing their wins and starting to keep a consistent program and have reached the tournament three times with all three ending in a loss right away.
Rating Score: 19.54
# 108 Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies are a team on the rise, one which hopes to be able to completely overcome the blue blood syndrome. As a member of the Big 12 they really didn’t stand a chance against Kansas but now in the SEC they have been putting up a fight with Kentucky. Texas A&M at one point made six NCAA tournaments in a row and have eight overall appearances in the century, three ending in the Sweet 16. They have received rankings as high as number five in the country but like many others can’t seem to lock down a championship as they have only one regular season title.
Rating Score: 19.81
# 107 Baylor Bears
As one of the biggest program turnarounds in college basketball, Baylor is on the rise. With Scott Drew taking over the program in 2003-2004, the Bears have been to seven NCAA tournaments. They have reached the Elite Eight twice and played in the Sweet 16 two other times. they have been ranked number one in the country and will only continue to rise. The battle comes as a member of the Big 12 where the Bears have absolutely no Big 12 titles to call there own.
Rating Score: 20.27
# 106 UAB Blazers
A Conference USA member, the Blazers have been a stellar mid-major program. With five trips to the Big Dance and one to the Sweet 16, UAB is a difficult team to play. They have claimed the USA three different times and are 372-241 (.607) within this century.
Rating Score: 20.33
# 105 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
The Eagles aka dunk city became the first 15 seed to reach a Sweet 16 and the program as a whole took a big jump forward. Florida Gulf Coast has only been a major Division I program for eight years, yet they have been to the Sweet 16 and have appeared in the NCAA tournament three times. They have taken the A-Sun title three times while winning at least 20 games in six of their eight seasons.
Rating Score: 20.40
# 104 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
Lon Kruger had the Runnin’ Rebels rolling. In all seven tournament appearances (four under Kruger) and a trip to the Sweet 16. They have been ranked in the top 25 and have reached as high as 11 in the polls. UNLV has struggled to win the Mountain West but does move on come the MWC tournament as they have three championships.
Rating Score: 20.83
# 103 Boston College Eagles
Boston College had years of greatness under Al Skinner but have been on a steady decline over the years. The Eagles have played in the tournament seven times and have climbed the rankings as high as number three. The Eagles were able to claim the Big East and were crowned three times as regular season champs however there move to the ACC has put them in a tough place where blue bloods are supreme.
Rating Score: 21.07
# 102 Alabama State Hornets
Alabama State gets the job done in the SWAC. In total the Hornets have been in the NCAA tournament 4 times all as a 16 seed. That pretty much sums up there success, however as a member of the SWAC they have a chance to claim those regular season titles, which they have done five times.
Rating Score: 21.19
# 101 Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans
The Trojans tend to dominate the Sun Belt. With six regular season championships and two trips to the Big Dance, Little Rock has been on the rise. 2015-2016 was the highlight of the program as they achieved 30 wins in the season and took down Purdue for the upset in March.
Rating Score: 21.42