South Carolina's NCAA Tournament drought in perspective

Kevin C. Cox

A look at the dismal drought that plagues Gamecock basketball, and how it compares to other major-conference teams.

We covered it before the season, but the history of the South Carolina Gamecock program does not give fans much to love, with the exception of a wonderful period under Frank McGuire in the 1960s-1970s.  Even during the most recent peak - the Eddie Fogler era - the Gamecocks unfortunately failed to grab a victory in the NCAA Tournament, with losses to 15-seed Coppin State and 14-seed Richmond sullying otherwise excellent seasons.

South Carolina has not won an NCAA game since 1973 (excluding consolation games), and has not appeared since 2004.  How does that stack up against teams currently playing major-conference basketball?  Terribly.

ACC

School Last Bid Last Win
North Carolina 2014 2013
Duke 2014 2013
Syracuse 2014 2013
Notre Dame 2013 2011
North Carolina State 2014 2014
Pittsburgh 2014 2011
Maryland 2010 2010
Wake Forest 2010 2010
Virginia 2014 2007
Boston College 2009 2007
Georgia Tech 2010 2010
Florida State 2012 2012
Clemson 2011 2011
Virginia Tech 2007 2007
Miami (FL) 2013 2013

Everyone has a win this century, and everyone has a bid more recently than the Gamecocks.  In fact, the longest current stretch without a win goes back only to 2007 - three years before the last appearance by South Carolina.

AAC

School Last Bid Last Win
Louisville 2014 2013
Connecticut 2014 2011
Temple 2013 2013
Cincinnati 2014 2012
Memphis 2014 2013
Houston 2010 1984
SMU 1993 1988
Rutgers 1991 1983
UCF 2005
South Florida 2012 2012

The AAC offers a few sources of comfort, thanks to their inclusion of schools for largely non-basketball reasons.  We can feel good about the fact that we've received a bid more recently than two of the teams in the conference (SMU and Rutgers, though SMU should've received one this year).  Our 1971 win only beats UCF's performance, and any excitement about that "achievement" should be tempered once one learns that UCF didn't exist until 1963, didn't participate in varsity athletics until 1969, and only moved to Division I athletics in 1990.

Big XII

School Last Bid Last Win
Kansas 2014 2013
Texas 2014 2011
Oklahoma 2014 2009
Kansas State 2014 2012
Oklahoma State 2014 2009
West Virginia 2012 2011
Iowa State 2014 2013
Texas Tech 2007 2005
Baylor 2014 2012
TCU 1998 1987

TCU has fallen flat on its face ever since entering the Big XII for purely football reasons back in 2012.  However, despite their horrifying basketball history - just two bids since 1973 - they managed to grab a victory in their 1987 appearance.  That said, it's one of the few major programs I wouldn't want to switch histories with - their all-time winning percentage of 45.9% pales in comparison to the Gamecocks' extremely mediocre 52.7%.

Big East

School Last Bid Last Win
Villanova 2014 2010
Marquette 2013 2013
Georgetown 2013 2012
St. John's 2011 2000
Xavier 2014 2012
DePaul 2004 2004
Creighton 2014 2013
Providence 2014 1997
Butler 2013 2013
Seton Hall 2006 2004

There's no solace for the Gamecocks in the Big East, despite the new members taken on due to the split between the conference and the American.  Much like the ACC, every team in the Big East has a win at least a recently as Carolina has an appearance (though at least we tied with one team here, in Seton Hall).

Big 10

School Last Bid Last Win
Indiana 2013 2013
Illinois 2013 2013
Ohio State 2014 2013
Michigan State 2014 2013
Purdue 2012 2012
Iowa 2014 2001
Michigan 2014 2013
Wisconsin 2014 2012
Minnesota 2013 2013
Penn State 2011 2001
Nebraska 2014
Northwestern

Finally!  It's surprising to say the least that the Big 10 gives the Gamecocks two places to find better NCAA records than ours, given its basketball strength, and yet here we are.  Nebraska and Northwestern have never won a single NCAA game, and in fact, Northwestern has never even made an appearance in the tournament, despite playing Division I basketball every year since its creation (the other four teams with that dubious distinction?  Wiliam & Mary, Army (despite having Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski coach there), St. Francis (NY), and our friends down on the coast, The Citadel.  Apparently being a whole man doesn't extend to winning the Southern Conference.

Pac 12

School Last Bid Last Win
UCLA 2014 2011
Arizona 2014 2013
Utah 2009 2005
California 2013 2013
Stanford 2014 2008
Oregon State 1990 1982
Southern California 2011 2009
Washington 2011 2011
Arizona State 2014 2009
Colorado 2014 2012
Oregon 2014 2013
Washington State 2008 2008

Everyone has won a game since our last trip in 2004 except for one team - Oregon State.  The Beavers haven't sniffed the NCAA Tournament since 1990 and haven't grabbed a victory there since 1982.  I have no idea why Oregon State can't put a remotely decent basketball team on the court, but after his sixth year, Craig Robinson seems likely to become yet another coach that tried and failed to get it done in Corvallis.  No word yet on how awkward it is to fire the First Lady's brother.

SEC

School Last Bid Last Win
Kentucky 2014 2012
Arkansas 2008 2008
Missouri 2013 2010
LSU 2009 2009
Tennessee 2014 2010
Alabama 2012 2006
Florida 2014 2013
Vanderbilt 2012 2012
Texas A&M 2011 2010
Georgia 2011 2002
Mississippi State 2009 2008
Auburn 2003 2003
South Carolina 2004 1973
Mississippi 2013 2013

And finally, our conference brethren.  12 of our 13 compatriots have received a bid since we have (thanks, Auburn!) and all have registered a win in the dance since the turn of the century, which makes our streak 29 years longer than the second-longest active streak in the conference (Georgia, with a 12-year wait).

There's no joy to be found in the numbers above, though it does remind us of the incredibly challenge faced by Frank Martin and his staff.  With the Gamecocks entering the off-season on the back of a solid run of play in the final four weeks of the season, it's up to Martin, his staff, and the players to try to get Carolina back to the NCAA Tournament beginning in 2015, where a win would bring to an end an entirely-too-long 41-year wait for Gamecock fans.

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