Skip to main content

Main Area


Best men's college basketball program in every state

  • Best men's college basketball program in every state

    When it comes to the best college basketball programs in the country, the cream of the crop are typically referred to as “blue bloods.”

    The usual suspects come to mind — North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and the likes. But what if you kept the discussion within the confines of state lines? With March Madness in full swing, the folks at Stacker took a crack at naming the best college basketball program in all 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.)

    To do this, we took into account a program’s total national titles, Final Four appearances, tournament wins and tournament berths. Once each state’s top school was identified, we ranked the 51 selections based on tournament appearances. While the battle for state supremacy in some states featured lower stakes — South Dakota State or South Dakota? — others states have multiple “blue blood” programs with their borders, making it all the more difficult to settle on one pick.

    So which is it — Duke or North Carolina? Kentucky or Louisville? Read on to see which schools cut down the nets for statewide supremacy.

    Note: For the purposes of this list, we’re including all tournament appearances for each school, even those that have since been nullified by the NCAA due to rules violations, with ties broken by number of tournament wins, then by Final Four appearances.

  • Alaska: Alaska Anchorage Seawolves

    NCAA tournament appearances: 0

    The 49th state of the Union — and the largest by area of the bunch — does not have a single Division I college basketball team. The Alaska Anchorage Seawolves, however, hold the top spot as the state’s best Division II program. Alaska Anchorage made it to the Division II national championship game in 1988, losing to the University of Lowell, 75-72. More recently, the Seawolves advanced to the national semifinals in 2008.

  • Maine: Maine Black Bears

    NCAA tournament appearances: 0

    The Black Bears compete in the America East Conference as part of Division I, but have never made it to the Big Dance. Maine’s last winning season came in 2009-10, when the team went 19-11 (11-5). Since the 2013-14 season, the Black Bears have lost at least 22 games each year.

  • North Dakota: North Dakota State Bison

    NCAA tournament wins: 1

    NCAA tournament appearances: 3

    North Dakota State made its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2009. The Bison’s lone tournament win came in 2014, when, as a No. 12 seed, a late 3-pointer sent the game against Oklahoma into overtime. North Dakota State eventually won, 80-75.

  • South Dakota: South Dakota State Jackrabbits

    NCAA tournament wins: 0

    NCAA tournament appearances: 4

    South Dakota State moved to Division I in 2004 and made its first tournament appearance in 2012. It’s made the field in four of the past six years, but the Jackrabbits are still searching for their first win. They’ve been close twice, though — first in 2012 to No. 3 seed Baylor, 68-60, and then in 2016 to No. 5 seed Maryland, 79-74.

  • Delaware: Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens

    NCAA tournament wins: 0

    NCAA tournament appearances: 5

    Delaware made its first tournament appearance in 1992, losing as a No. 13 seed to Cincinnati, 85-47. Its last appearance came in 2014, when the Fightin’ Hens lost to Michigan State, 93-78, in the round of 64.

  • Hawaii: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

    NCAA tournament wins: 1

    NCAA tournament appearances: 5

    In its fifth tournament appearance in 2016, the Rainbow Warriors finally pulled off a win by upsetting the No. 4 seed California Golden Bears, 77-66. It ended a 14-year tournament drought, as the program hadn’t made the Big Dance since 2002.

  • Vermont: Vermont Catamounts

    NCAA tournament wins: 2

    NCAA tournament appearances: 6

    Vermont has advanced past the round of 64 just once in its six appearances, but that instance serves as one of the most memorable tournament moments of the 21st century. In 2005, the No. 13 seed Catamounts knocked off No. 4 seed Syracuse, 60-57. The defining moment came when Vermont guard T.J. Sorrentine made a ridiculously deep 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining in overtime to give the Catamounts a four-point lead.

  • New Hampshire: Dartmouth Big Green

    NCAA Final Fours: 2

    NCAA tournament wins: 10

    NCAA tournament appearances: 7

    Dartmouth hasn’t made the Big Dance since 1959, with all seven of its appearances coming between 1941 to 1959. The Big Green made two national championship game appearances in 1942 and 1944, losing both times. The only other Division I program in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Wildcats, has never made the NCAA tournament.

  • South Carolina: South Carolina Gamecocks

    NCAA Final Fours: 1

    NCAA tournament wins: 8

    NCAA tournament appearances: 9

    Prior to the 2017 NCAA tournament, South Carolina had made the Sweet Sixteen just three times, all coming from 1971 to 1973. Between 1974 and 2004, the Gamecocks made the field five times and were bounced in the first round each time. South Carolina didn’t make the tournament from 2005 to 2016 before getting in as a No. 7 seed last season. It then went on a historic tear, beating No. 2 seed Duke in the round of 32 en route to the school’s first-ever Final Four appearance.

  • Montana: Montana Grizzlies

    NCAA tournament wins: 2

    NCAA tournament appearances: 10

    In its first-ever NCAA tournament game in 1975, the Grizzlies beat Utah State in the first round before dropping a tough 67-64 loss to UCLA in the second round. UCLA went on to win the national championship. Montana’s second tournament win came in 2006 when, as a No. 12 seed, the Grizzlies beat No. 5 seed Nevada.

2018 All rights reserved.