College Basketball Misery Index: When madness turns to sadness

Editor's note: The 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled on March 12. These results and projections were based on expected completion of conference tournaments and are updated through every team's last remaining game.

March Madness is a time for celebration for most college basketball fans. You get to skip work (or watch on your computer when your boss isn't looking) and consume college basketball all day. Buzzer-beaters, bracket-busters, the NCAA tournament is all gravy -- at least, for most.

Some fan bases can't enjoy March like the rest of us. Whether it's because their teams never make it, they make it only to be heartbroken or they have to sit there and suffer while their rivals cut down the nets, "March Madness" turns into "March Sadness." If you're a fan of one of those schools, this article is for you. Here is the College Basketball Misery Index.

It is patterned off the professional Sports Misery Index, in which we broke down each school in the top seven conferences (ACC, American, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) and Gonzaga to see how miserable they truly are. The full methodology is outlined at the conclusion of this piece, but teams are evaluated in seven categories: championships, Final Fours, conference titles (regular-season and conference tournament), NCAA tournament berths, NCAA tournament wins, heartbreaks and rival comparison. Recent events are weighted more, NCAA sanctions are not considered, and the higher the score, the more miserable we think you should be. Like in an NCAA tournament, we have seeded every school, and we evaluated teams from the 1938-39 season (when the NCAA tournament started) until now.

You won't see big write-ups on schools such as Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State. They'll get plenty of coverage in the upcoming tourney.

This is the second edition of the Index, with the first debuting this time last year. In the interim, Virginia fell out of the bracket entirely, and Arizona State is happy to get off the top line. As for highly seeded teams that could fall in the next installment, look out for Penn State.

Here we go. Results are based on events through the 2018-19 season, so this year's regular-season and conference tournament titles have not been factored in.

No. 1 seeds


Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 37.91 points



Previous seed: 1
Sure, Tim Duncan and Chris Paul played for the Demon Deacons at one point, but theirs has been a very bleak existence since Paul left for the NBA 15 years ago, especially in the past decade. Wake Forest has missed the tournament in eight of the past nine seasons (about to be nine of 10) and hasn't won a tournament game since 2010 or a conference title of any kind since 2003. The team's most recent Sweet 16 came in 2004, when Paul was a freshman.

All of that is enough to make a Wake fan hate March Madness, but the lack of on-court success is exacerbated by having two of college basketball's blue bloods as rivals. As the Demon Deacons have suffered, their fans have had to watch Duke and North Carolina combine for 10 national titles and countless conference titles/Final Four appearances since 1982. Wake's only Final Four? 1962.

East Carolina Pirates, 36.94


Previous seed: 1
Another North Carolina-based school makes the top line, but for completely different reasons. Sure, East Carolina has some sort of envy toward the powerful Tar Heels, but the misery of a Pirates fan is based more on meek acceptance of futility rather than trash talk from rival schools.

If you didn't know that East Carolina played basketball, you aren't alone. The Pirates have made the tournament only twice -- the most recent in 1993 -- and are one of only two teams in this group of 88 that have never won a tournament game. They've never won a regular-season conference championship, and being in a tough American Athletic Conference won't help them change that.

Penn State Nittany Lions, 35.79


Previous seed: 1
Penn State revolves around its football program, and the smaller group of Nittany Lions fans who like hoops haven't had much to cheer about. Prior to this season, the Nittany Lions hadn't made the tournament since 2011, and that was their only appearance since they went on a run to the Sweet 16 in 2001. The Nittany Lions haven't won a conference tournament of any kind since they joined the Big Ten in 1992-93. Penn State's most recent conference title (one of only two in its history) came in 1991, when the Lions were in the Atlantic 10.

That said, expect PSU to drop in misery next year. Not only is this year's team a shoo-in for the NCAA tournament, but it could also be in line for the Nittany Lions' best seed ever (previous was a No. 5 in 1996). Enjoy this, Penn State fans. It has been a long time coming.

Washington State Cougars, 34.59


Previous seed: 2
The Cougars are the new No. 1 seed, as they took the place of fellow Pac-12 team Arizona State. This was not a top seed that Washington State wanted, but it's one that it certainly deserves. The Cougars haven't been to the NCAA tournament since Tony Bennett (yes, national champion Tony Bennett) led Wazzu to back-to-back tourneys in 2007 and 2008 before bolting for Virginia. Not even the presence of Klay Thompsonin the three years after Bennett left could get the Cougars in the tourney.

As for life post-Klay, yikes. Washington State hasn't had a winning season since Thompson left in 2011 and has only one conference title in its history, a Pacific Coast Conference title in 1941 (the Pac-8 wasn't a thing back then). Adding insult to injury was rival Washington's Pac-12 regular-season title last season. Things aren't great, even with the Huskies backsliding this season.

No. 2 seeds



TCU Horned Frogs, 33.97


Previous seed: 3
After making their first tournament in 20 years in 2018, the Horned Frogs were one of the last teams left out last year, allowing them to revisit their usual hoops misery. Although Jamie Dixon has gotten the Frogs back to respectability since arriving from Pittsburgh in 2016, TCU's track record before him was gory.

Besides not making the tournament in 20 of the previous 21 seasons, TCU hasn't won a conference title since it won the WAC in 1998 (the Horned Frogs have moved conferences three times since) and hasn't won an NCAA tournament game since 1987. TCU has made the tourney only four times in the past half-century, and an NIT title in 2017 was a consolation prize. The Horned Frogs lost in the NIT semifinals last season to rival Texas, however, so tournament time remains cruel for Dixon's crew.

Vanderbilt Commodores, 33.21


Previous seed: 2
Unlike the teams above, Vanderbilt has been to the tournament quite a few times lately, making it seven of the previous 13 seasons. But Vanderbilt's misery -- besides having Kentucky as a rival -- comes from the heartbreak that happens in the tournament.

Vanderbilt has been an upset special for years. The Commodores have lost three times in the round of 64 as a No. 5 or better seed since 2008. They currently rank in the top 25 in heartbreaks, a category that tends to be populated by schools that make deep tournament runs. That isn't the case for Vandy, which has never progressed past the Sweet 16. But hey, at least the Commodores got a conference win this year after going 0-18 in the SEC last year.

Tulane Green Wave, 32.87


Previous seed: 4
Tulane is another American Athletic Conference team that seems to have bitten off more than it can chew, as the Green Wave haven't made the NCAA tournament since 1995, when they were in the now-defunct Metro Conference. Not even a former NBA coach, Mike Dunleavy, was able to change their fortunes.

Tulane, which gave up basketball for four seasons in the 1980s due to a point-shaving scandal, moved up to the 2-line thanks to the upturn in fortunes of both in-state rival LSU and AAC rival Houston. Being bad is one thing, but having your rivals advance to the Sweet 16 makes it worse. Not even the Wave's going three-for-three in first-round tourney games changes that.

Georgia Bulldogs, 32.82


Previous seed: 3
Tom Crean is doing his best to change the mojo of Georgia basketball, including bringing in a future lottery pick in Anthony Edwards. But the malaise that has surrounded the program since an unlikely run to the 1983 Final Four remains. The Dawgs have only two real highlights since: a run to the Sweet 16 in 1996 and a Cinderella SEC tournament title in 2008.

Even Georgia's good moments have a caveat, as the 1996 run was eclipsed in heartbreaking fashion by John Wallace and Syracuse in overtime. And that's about as good as it gets for Dawgs hoops, which hasn't had an NCAA tournament victory since 2002. Despite having national-title-winning coaches (at other schools, obviously) in Jim Harrick and Tubby Smith, Georgia hasn't been able to sustain success.

No. 3 seeds



Oregon State Beavers, 32.76


Previous seed: 3
It's hard to believe, but the Beavers used to be the premier program not named UCLA out West. OSU went to three Final Fours before 1963, was a perennial tourney team under Ralph Miller and had star players such as Gary Payton and A.C. Green.

Although Gary Payton II was recently a star in Corvallis, it did little to change the Beavers' success (or lack thereof). The past three decades of Oregon State basketball have been depressing. The Beavers have made the tournament once since 1990, haven't won a tournament game since 1982 and haven't won a conference title of any kind since 1990. Meanwhile, hated Oregon has made Elite Eights and a Final Four in 2017 and is fresh off a Pac-12 tournament title and Sweet 16 run last season.

South Florida Bulls, 32.47


Previous seed: 2
USF basketball fans aren't the most demanding, realizing that the growth of their football program (and subsequent move up the conference food chain) makes it tough for basketball. That said, Bulls basketball hasn't delivered in its 40-plus years of existence.

South Florida has made the NCAA tournament three times and has won only two tournament games, both in 2012. Even that 2012 season wasn't worth getting excited about as a) the Bulls won with a very hard-to-watch, defensive style that kept scoring in the 50s or lower and b) it was followed by six straight seasons of 19 or more losses. USF has won only two conference titles, making its quest to gain respect a harrowing one. All of this was made worse by rival UCF having the best season in its history last year.

Boston College Eagles, 32.16


Previous seed: 2
When the most notable accomplishment of the past decade was being the subject of a 30 for 30 on point shaving that featured Henry Hill of "Goodfellas" fame, it's safe to say the on-court product isn't great. The Eagles went 0-for-10 in NCAA tournament appearances in the 2010s (their most recent berth was in 2009) and seem destined for a similar fate as the 2020s start.

The past decade-plus of misery has eroded the hope of a fan base that used to have things to cheer about, as Boston College won a Big East regular-season championship in 2005 and made a run to the Elite Eight in 1994. But it has been pretty miserable for BC since it lost to Villanova in overtime in the Sweet 16 in 2006. While the Eagles have been scuffling, fellow New England school UConn has four national championships since 1999.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 31.51


Previous seed: 5
The Scarlet Knights climbed up to the three line for two main reasons: a) extending streaks of missing the NCAA tournament while not winning a conference title dating to 1991 (their most recent tourney win came in 1983) and b) rivals Seton Hall and Maryland both making the NCAA tournament. Had Penn State done anything last year, Rutgers' basketball hurt would have been even greater.

That said, this lofty seeding could be temporary. Rutgers has joined Penn State in a Big Ten East renaissance, as Steve Pikiell has a hard-nosed Scarlet Knights team on the brink of ending its tournament drought. Could this year's squad be the best Rutgers team since the 1976 Final Four squad? It's certainly possible and definitely welcome for a fan base that has had little success to cheer about.

No. 4 seeds



Nebraska Cornhuskers, 31.34


Previous seed: 4
The second school on this list to never win a tournament game resides in Lincoln, as the Cornhuskers join East Carolina in sharing that dubious honor. Of course, it's hard to win a tournament game when you don't actually make the tourney, which the Huskers haven't done since going one-and-done in 2014. On top of everything, Nebraska is one of two Big Ten teams (the other will be following shortly) that isn't in contention for a bid this year.

Nebraska is on the four line mostly due to its main rivals (Creighton, Iowa and Minnesota) not making long tournament runs in the 2000s, but that might be changing this year with the Bluejays and Hawkeyes. That will make a résumé that has seen only one tournament bid since 1998 and no conference titles since 1994 seem even worse.

Arizona State Sun Devils, 31.16


Previous seed: 1
The Sun Devils have happily left the top line, moving all the way to a No. 4 seed after winning their first NCAA tournament game since 2009, when a guy named James Harden was ASU's star player. Not only that, but last year marked the second consecutive season in which Arizona State made the tournament (first back-to-back since the 1960s), and it came when rival Arizona didn't land in the field (first time since 1981).

The fact that those accomplishments were noteworthy indicates the toughness of eradicating the Sun Devils' misery. Besides being dwarfed by its in-state rival, ASU hasn't been to the Sweet 16 since 1995 and hasn't won a conference title of any kind since 1979. Add a point-shaving scandal in the 1990s, and it has been tough for Arizona State. However, a third straight tourney bid might be coming.

Northwestern Wildcats, 31.08


Previous seed: 5
The other "N" in the Big Ten faces many of the same problems Nebraska does, as the Wildcats have squandered the momentum of a recent NCAA tournament appearance and are again at the bottom of the conference. That 2017 tourney appearance is the only one in program history, marking the fewest by any team on this list. The reason the Wildcats are this low is due to their winning a game in that tournament, thanks in large part to Vanderbilt (which we've covered already) pulling a late, phantom timeout.

Northwestern fans have also been helped by the struggles of in-state rival Illinois and Chicagoland rival DePaul, though they won't be able to make fun of the Fighting Illini for much longer. Add the disappearance of Julia Louis-Dreyfus sightings (her son, Charlie Hall, has graduated), and there isn't much for Wildcats hoops fans to celebrate.

DePaul Blue Demons, 31.03


Previous seed: 4
Speaking of DePaul, the Blue Demons used to be one of the hottest brands in college hoops, as players such as Terry Cummings, Mark Aguirre and Rod Strickland starred for a program that was a tournament regular in the late 1970s and 1980s. But even then, DePaul tended to underachieve in a tournament setting.

The Blue Demons would love that opportunity now, though, as they haven't made the NCAA tournament since 2004, have missed it 18 of the past 19 seasons and have never made the field since joining the Big East in 2005-06. Last year's 19-17 finish marked DePaul's first winning season since 2006-07. The Blue Demons aren't even the top dogs in Chicago anymore, as Northwestern has more recent success and Loyola-Chicago won the city's heart with its Final Four run in 2018.

No. 5 seeds



NC State Wolfpack, 30.94


Previous seed: 6
The Wolfpack are a two-time NCAA champion, but their fans are disgruntled for two main reasons. The first is that the second championship came in 1983, too far in the past for NC State fans in their early 40s or younger. The second is being the third wheel in the Research Triangle, as neighboring Duke and North Carolina have nine national titles since NC State's 1983 triumph. Having two behemoths next door makes their occasional accomplishments (no Sweet 16s since 2015 and no Elite Eights since 1986) feel small in comparison. Barely missing the tourney last year doesn't help, either.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 30.63


Previous seed: 4
Georgia Tech used to be one of the most exciting programs in the nation, boasting the likes of Stephon Marbury, Kenny Anderson and Chris Bosh. But it's been an arduous grind for Yellow Jackets fans since losing to UConn in the 2004 national title game. Tech has not only lost in each opening weekend that it has appeared since that loss, but getting to the tournament alone has been a hassle. Georgia Tech has missed the tourney nine consecutive seasons and looks like it's headed for a 10th. Not having a conference title of any kind since 1996 tops it off.

Clemson Tigers, 29.95


Previous seed: 6
We continue the ACC portion of this article with the Tigers, who followed up a Sweet 16 run in 2018 by missing the tournament completely last year. Unfortunately, the 2019 performance has been standard for Clemson hoops. The Tigers have missed seven of the last eight tournaments, have only made the tourney 12 times in school history and have only won two conference championships, the most recent coming in 1990. The Tigers will likely miss the tourney again, but they finally won at North Carolina this season -- their first win at UNC after 59 straight losses.

Missouri Tigers, 28.34


Previous seed: 8
For much of its history, Missouri has been a good-but-not-quite-great program that hasn't measured up to its biggest rival, Kansas. But the Jayhawks aren't Mizzou's primary source of misery now, as things have stunk for Tigers fans since losing to UConn in the 2009 Elite Eight (one of three times since 1994 that they've lost in that round). They have missed the tourney six of the past seven seasons and haven't won a tourney game since 2010. Missouri has also been a frequent first-round upset victim, including a loss to 15-seed Norfolk State as a No. 2 in 2012.

No. 6 seeds



UCF Knights, 27.98


Previous seed: 3
The Knights tumble down the seedings after having the best season in school history. Not only did UCF make the tournament for the first time since 2005, it notched its first-even tournament win by defeating VCU. This seeding could be even lower if it wasn't for the heartbreaking second-round loss to Duke, which saw Aubrey Dawkins' potential game-winning putback just miss. That heartbreak, plus a portfolio that's short of accomplishments (five tourney berths, one tourney win, no conference titles since 2005) keeps UCF high in the seeding.

Virginia Tech Hokies, 27.76


Previous seed: 5

This is arguably the best stretch of basketball in Virginia Tech history, as the Hokies have made three consecutive tournaments for the first time and made it to the Sweet 16 this past season. But in typical Hokies hoops fashion, Va. Tech can't have nice things. First came its version of Duke heartbreak when Ahmed Hill missed the tying gimme to bring on elimination. Then came having to watch hated, in-state rival Virginia win it all and cut down the nets. Then Buzz Williams, who keyed the recent renaissance, left Blacksburg for Texas A&M. Two steps forward, three back.

USC Trojans, 27.52


Previous seed: 6
The Trojans continue to run in place, which is not a good thing when it comes to the tournament. Despite the uncharacteristic struggles of crosstown rival UCLA, USC has not been able to take advantage, barely missing the tournament the past two seasons and on the bubble again this year. The Trojans have also been embroiled in the federal probe into Nike, but that annoyance pales in comparison to the struggles USC has faced on the court. The Trojans have missed the tourney six of the past eight seasons and haven't won a conference title since winning the Pac-12 tournament in 2009.

Colorado Buffaloes, 27.23


Previous seed: 7
Tad Boyle has brought a little happiness to Buffalo hoops, as Colorado made the tournament four times in five seasons from 2012 to 2016, including winning the Pac-12 tournament in its first year in the league back in 2012. That said, minimal success is about all fans in Boulder can expect, as Colorado has missed the tourney the previous three years and won only two tournament games since 1970 (one of those came when Chauncey Billups played for CU). It has been 50 years since the Buffaloes made the Sweet 16, though this year's team has shown promise.

No. 7 seeds



SMU Mustangs, 27.17


Previous seed: 7
Larry Brown got SMU back on the map in his four seasons with the Mustangs, building a team that won American regular-season and tournament titles in 2015 and 2017. But those campaigns ended on a sour note with first-round upsets to Los Angeles-based Pac-12 teams. UCLA shocked the Mustangs in a controversial loss in 2015, and USC sent them home prematurely two years later. SMU hasn't won a tournament game since 1988, has missed the last two tournaments and will likely miss again this year, so the window Brown opened might have slammed shut.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane, 26.74


Previous seed: 9
Tulsa has a rich history of success, as coaches such as Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith and Bill Self cut their teeth with the Golden Hurricane before moving to bigger schools. But after making three Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight from 1994 to 2000, that success has dried up. Tulsa hasn't won an NCAA tournament game since 2003. Moving up the conference food chain has been tough on Tulsa, and the Golden Hurricanes have only made the tournament once in nine years in Conference USA, including only one bid since joining the American in 2015. This year's squad could sneak in, however.

St. John's Red Storm, 26.43


Previous seed: 6
The Johnnies move down after making the tourney last year, but that First Four appearance could be an aberration, as the Red Storm let go of St. John's icon Chris Mullin (the star of the Red Storm's 1985 Final Four team and a Pro Basketball Hall of Famer) and are currently scuffling under Mike Anderson. Not that scuffling is a foreign concept for St. John's fans. The Red Storm haven't advanced past the first weekend of the tournament since 1999 and haven't won a conference title or tournament game since 2000, trends that aren't reversing this year.

Providence Friars, 26.26


Previous seed: 8
While St. John's moved down a line by making the tourney, the Friars moved up by missing it last year for the first time since 2013. But while Providence has been a frequent tournament participant under Ed Cooley, it hasn't had much success in that setting. A 2016 first-round victory over USC is the only win in that time and that accomplishment is meager compared to the 1987 Final Four run under Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan, or the Austin Croshere-led journey to the Elite Eight 10 years later. It's a stark comparison to what rivals UConn and Villanova have recently accomplished.

No. 8 seeds



Seton Hall Pirates, 26.1


Previous seed: 7
Older Pirates fans insist that Rumeal Robinson was not fouled and did not deserve the two free throws that vaulted Michigan past Seton Hall in overtime of the 1989 title game. Younger Pirates fans would love to get that far and have that type of bad memory. Although the Pirates have made the tournament the past four seasons, they have only won one tournament game during that span and haven't made it to the second weekend since 2000. This could be the year to break through to the Sweet 16 and beyond, though, as Myles Powell & Co. are looking good for a high seed.

Minnesota Golden Gophers, 25.57


Previous seed: 5
The Gophers took a pretty sizable fall after making the tournament and blasting Louisville in the first round, only their second tourney win since their run to 1997 Final Four. It's been a pretty bleak existence since that run (which was invalidated by NCAA sanctions but we don't consider that in this exercise) and '97 represents the last time the Gophers have made the Sweet 16 and won a Big Ten championship. Part of the reason for Minnesota's misery (besides Wisconsin's success) is a lack of consistency. The Gophers have only made back-to-back tourneys once since 1995.

Mississippi State Bulldogs, 25.06


Previous seed: 9
Mississippi State made its first tournament in 10 years last year, but the upset loss to Liberty in a 5-12 game reinforced a problem that's been present in Starkville since its 1996 Final Four run -- losing as a higher seed. Since that run, Mississippi State has been a No. 5 seed or higher four times, yet hasn't advanced out of the first weekend. It has also had problems making the tournament (seven bids in 23 seasons) and winning conference titles (no SEC title of any kind since 2010). The Bulldogs are propped right on the bubble this season.

Stanford Cardinal, 24.65


Previous seed: 11
The Cardinal have advanced to the Sweet 16 the last two times they've qualified for the tournament. Problem is, those tournament berths came in 2008 and 2014. Stanford has missed the tournament the last five seasons, as well as 10 of the last 11 campaigns, and are in a struggle to make it this season. Besides the lack of tourney appearances the last dozen years, the Cardinal haven't won a conference title since 2004, a season in which they were upset in the second round as a No. 1 seed. Stanford fans would likely prefer that to the current reality though.

No. 9 seeds



Alabama Crimson Tide, 24.56


Previous seed: 10
Backsliding from the second round in 2018 to missing the tournament last year was bad enough for the Tide, but having to watch rival Auburn advance to its first Final Four (a feat Bama has never achieved) helped move Alabama up a seed. The Crimson Tide have struggled recently, only making the tourney twice since 2007 and not advancing past the first weekend since 2004.

Oklahoma State Cowboys, 23.85


Previous seed: 12
Oklahoma State used to be one of the most consistently good teams in the Big 8/Big 12 in the 1990s and early 2000s, making the tournament 12 times from 1991 to 2005, including Final Fours in 1995 and 2004. But the Cowboys haven't won a conference title or advanced to the Sweet 16 since 2005, haven't won a tourney game since 2009 and look like they're going to miss the Big Dance for a third straight season.

California Golden Bears, 23.56


Previous seed: 8
Cal fell a line, but it's not because the Golden Bears did anything great on the court, they're well on their way to another tourney-less season after finishing in the Pac-12 cellar for the second straight season. Cal last made the tournament in 2016, when the Jaylen Brown-led Bears were upset as a No. 4 seed by No. 13 Hawaii. While Cal does have a national title (1959), it hasn't made it to the Sweet 16 since 1997.

Iowa Hawkeyes, 22.73


Previous seed: 9
The Hawkeyes have passed the 20-year mark since their last Sweet 16 appearance in 1999. An overtime loss to Tennessee in the second round last year denied them again. Iowa hasn't won a Big Ten title of any kind since 2006 (which was followed by an upset loss as a No. 3 seed in the first round of the tourney). But maybe Luka Garza can carry them to the second weekend this season.

No. 10 seeds



Ole Miss Rebels, 22.08


Previous seed: 8
The Rebels move down a couple lines after making the tournament last year for the first time since 2015, but tourney berths are a rarity on The Grove. Ole Miss has only made three tournaments since 2002 and haven't advanced to the Sweet 16 since 2001. They've only won a single conference title since 2001 as well, when Marshall Henderson led the Rebels to the SEC tourney title in 2013.

South Carolina Gamecocks, 20.98


Previous seed: 10
It might be hard to imagine South Carolina being miserable, as the Gamecocks advanced to the Final Four three years ago, but they missed the tournament the last two years and before 2017 South Carolina hadn't won a tournament game since 1973. It hasn't won a conference title since 1997, a year when the Gamecocks were upset by No. 15 seed Coppin State in the tourney.

Georgetown Hoyas, 19.88


Previous seed: 11
While missing the tournament the past four seasons hasn't been enjoyable, Georgetown misery comes mostly from upset losses. The Hoyas have lost five times to double-digit seeds since 2008, most notably to Stephen Curry and Davidson in 2008 and as the victims of Florida Gulf Coast's "Dunk City" display in the round of 64 in 2013. Those upsets are why the Hoyas haven't made the Sweet 16 since 2007.

Washington Huskies, 19.59


Previous seed: 7
Washington takes a nice tumble in misery, as not only did the Huskies break a seven-year tournament drought, but they also won the Pac-12 regular-season title and won their first tournament game since 2011. That said, Washington's trips to the tournament have been marred by Sweet 16 struggles. They lost to Louisville as a No. 1 seed in 2005 and were heartbroken by a Richard Hamilton buzzer-beater in 1998.

No. 11 seeds



Temple Owls, 19.46


Previous seed: 11
Consistency used to be the Owls' virtue, as Temple went to five Elite Eights between 1988 and 2001 and only missed the tournament once between 1984 and 2001. While Temple hasn't been bad lately, it hasn't reached the second weekend of the tourney since losing to Michigan State in the 2001 Elite Eight (the Owls are 0-5 in that round since 1958) and only made the tourney twice in Fran Dunphy's final six seasons.

Marquette Golden Eagles, 18.8


Previous seed: 12
The Golden Eagles moved up despite making the tournament for just the second time in six seasons, as they fell victim to the Ja Morant show in a 12-5 upset. That leaves Marquette without a tournament win since 2013, though Markus Howard is likely taking them back to the Dance this year (a recent slide has prompted some bubble talk, but it would be surprising to see the Golden Eagles drop out of the field). Marquette has had some great moments, including a 1977 national title and a Dwyane Wade-led Final Four in 2003.

Pittsburgh Panthers, 18.45


Previous seed: 14
Pitt was one of the better squads in the 2000s, making five Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight during that decade. But their last tourney game of that era, the Scottie Reynolds buzzer-beater loss to Villanova in the 2009 Elite Eight, sent the Panthers into a gradual decline. They haven't made the Sweet 16 since 2009 or the tourney since 2016. They bottomed out under Kevin Stallings in 2017-18, going 0-18 in ACC play.

Illinois Fighting Illini, 18.38


Previous seed: 12
Recent struggles have made the Illinois fan base kind of sullen and rightfully so as the Fighting Illini have missed the past six tournaments. While Illini fans have fond memories of the Deron Williams-Dee Brown national runner-up team in 2005, Illinois hasn't progressed past the first weekend of the tourney since that run. That being said, Illinois has surged this year behind Ayo Dosunmu and will be in the Dance again.

No. 12 seeds



Miami Hurricanes, 18.22


Previous seed: 13
Jim Larranaga has led the Hurricanes to Sweet 16s in 2013 and 2016 and an ACC title sweep in 2013, but the Sweet 16 is the furthest The U has gone. Of course, making the Sweet 16 is better than what Miami has experienced the past two seasons. The Hurricanes lost on a Loyola-Chicago buzzer-beater in the first round in 2018 and had a losing season last year. It looks like The U will miss the Dance again this season.

Memphis Tigers, 17.71


Previous seed: 15
Things have progressively gotten worse on Beale Street since Mario Chalmers' 3-pointer pushed Kansas past the Tigers for the 2008 national title. John Calipari left for Kentucky after leading Memphis to the 2009 Sweet 16, and the Tigers haven't been to the second weekend of the tourney since. They haven't been to the tourney at all since 2014, a streak that could continue despite Penny Hardaway's recruiting, granted he lost a top three NBA pick in James Wiseman earlier this season.

Tennessee Volunteers, 16.96


Previous seed: 14
The last two seasons of Volunteers basketball have been great on the surface. Tennessee won the SEC regular-season title in 2018 and went to the Sweet 16 in 2019. The final games have been brutal, though, with a buzzer-beating loss to Loyola-Chicago in 2018 (seem familiar?) and an OT loss to Purdue last year whenCarsen Edwards hit two late free throws to force OT after a controversial foul call against the Vols.

Utah Utes, 16.55


Previous seed: 14
Kentucky used to be the main source of the Utes' misery, as Utah has lost six tourney games to the Wildcats -- including two Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight and the 1998 national title game -- since 1993. But Utah, formerly a tournament fixture (12 appearances between 1991 and 2005) has had a difficult time making it since. The Utes have only made it three times since 2005 and are likely to miss the Dance again this year.

No. 13 seeds



Texas A&M Aggies, 16.51


Previous seed: 14
The Aggies moved up after a losing season last year and have only won one conference title since 1987. That said, the Aggies have made the Sweet 16 twice since 2016 and have a certified program-builder now with Buzz Williams in charge.

Iowa State Cyclones, 16.2


Previous seed: 13

The Cyclones have been successful and entertaining recently but have been hamstrung by tournament heartbreaks (first-round losses to Hampton and UAB as a No. 2 and No. 3 seed, Georges Niang's broken foot, Aaron Craft's buzzer-beating shot).

Texas Longhorns, 16.14


Previous seed: 15
The Longhorns made 18 of 20 tournaments before missing last year, but they're in a bit of a rut. Texas hasn't made it past the round of 32 since 2008 or won a tournament game in Shaka Smart's four completed seasons in Austin.

Arkansas Razorbacks, 15.85


Previous seed: 15
The "40 Minutes of Hell" era in the 1990s was big for the Razorbacks, culminating in a 1994 national title, but Arkansas hasn't advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament since 1996 and have only qualified three times since 2009.

No. 14 seeds



Kansas State Wildcats, 15.81


Previous seed: 12
The Wildcats have had a nice couple of seasons, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2018 and winning the Big 12 regular-season title last year. Just imagine how low the Wildcats would be if they weren't upset by UC Irvine in the first round last year?

Creighton Bluejays, 14.94


Previous seed: 15
The Bluejays have been an NCAA mainstay (five tourneys since 2012) and are headed back this season. They always have bragging rights over in-state rival Nebraska but haven't advanced to the Sweet 16 since 1974.

Houston Cougars, 14.85


Previous seed: 10
Houston got to a place that it hasn't been since the Phi Slamma Jamma days last season, as the Cougars made the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984. They were close to making it the year before butJordan Poole's 3-point prayer eliminated them.

LSU Tigers, 14.69


Previous seed: 9
LSU took a big misery tumble this season after winning the SEC regular-season title and advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006, a season in which Glen "Big Baby" Davis & Co. advanced to the Final Four.

No. 15 seeds



Baylor Bears, 13.43


Previous seed: 13
In addition to being ranked No. 1 for a good portion of this season, the Bears have made the tournament seven of the past 10 seasons, including advancing to the four Sweet 16s and two Elite Eights. Far cry from where Baylor was in the mid-2000s.

Indiana Hoosiers, 13.39


Previous seed: 16
You wouldn't expect a blue blood to be in this field, but the five-time national champion Hoosiers haven't won it all since 1987, have qualified for only four of the past 11 tournaments and might miss the Big Dance again this year.

Florida State Seminoles, 12.16


Previous seed: 13
The Seminoles have had their share of tournament success lately, advancing to the Sweet 16 last year after going to the Elite Eight the year before. They haven't had the ACC success though, with only one conference title in 28 seasons prior to this year.

Auburn Tigers, 8.44


Previous seed: 11
The Tigers made school history by advancing to the Final Four for the first time after winning the SEC tournament, bringing about a sizable fall on this list. Just imagine if they didn't foul Kyle Guy with 0.6 seconds left and let eventual national champion Virginia escape.

No. 16 seeds/play-ins



Purdue Boilermakers, 8.38


Previous seed: 16
On one hand, Purdue has made three Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight and won two conference titles the last three seasons. On the other, the Boilermakers have the largest heartbreak score after last year's gut-wrenching loss to Virginia, which is why they land in the misery field.

Texas Tech Red Raiders, 7.85


Previous seed: 10
Like Auburn, the Red Raiders fell almost out of the field after a historic season in which Tech reached its first Final Four and went to the title game. Like the Tigers (and Purdue), Texas Tech was heartbroken by UVA, losing the championship game in overtime.

Maryland Terrapins, 7.85


Previous seed: 16
The Terps have a 2002 national title to their credit but haven't been as successful lately, winning their last conference title before this season in 2010 and making the Sweet 16 once since 2003. But this year's team has a chance to hearken back to the Juan Dixon days.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 7.15


Previous seed: 16
Irish fans don't have much to be disappointed about lately, as consecutive Elite Eight appearances in 2015 and 2016 are fresh, but losing Bonzie Colson sabotaged a potential tourney team last year and Notre Dame is a long shot to make this year's field.

Wichita State Shockers, 6.66


Previous seed: 16
The Shockers had a rare tournament miss last year and will have a battle to make it this year, but this decade has seen the Shockers make the 2013 Final Four, two Sweet 16s and register an undefeated regular season in 2014.

West Virginia Mountaineers, 6.23


Previous seed: First four out
The Mountaineers are the one newcomer to the field, replacing Virginia, after a rare losing season under Bob Huggins. But Huggins has led West Virginia to five Sweet 16s and a Final Four in his 12 seasons. He has another tourney team this year.

Oklahoma Sooners, 4.01


Previous seed: 16
The Sooners stay in the field, but not by much, after reaching another tourney and winning their first tournament game since 2016. That 2016 season was pretty nice for Oklahoma, too, as Buddy Hield led the Sooners to the Final Four.

Cincinnati Bearcats, 3.17


Previous seed: 16
The Bearcats have made it to nine consecutive tournaments and they've won back-to-back AAC tournament titles, but Cincinnati has only made it to the Sweet 16 once during that streak and only twice since losing in the Elite Eight in 1996.

First four out


Ohio State Buckeyes, 1.64: The Buckeyes haven't made it to the Sweet 16 since 2013 but are a tourney staple, having qualified 11 times since 2006, including two Final Four trips (Previous seed: First four out).

Xavier Musketeers, -0.21:A rare tourney miss last year doesn't significantly harm a profile that includes six Sweet 16s and two Elite Eight appearances since 2008 (Previous seed: First four out).

Butler Bulldogs, -2.88: Butler fans still bask in the glow of making it to back-to-back national title games in 2010 and 2011 and celebrated a Sweet 16 as recently as 2017 (Previous seed: First four out).

Michigan Wolverines, -4.69: The Wolverines have made it to the championship game twice since 2013, but losing those games (and three to Michigan State last year) have them here (Previous seed: Next four out).

Next four out


Louisville Cardinals, -5.58: The 2013 national title victory over Michigan still counts in the hearts of Cardinals fans, despite what the NCAA offices say (Previous seed: Next four out).

UCLA Bruins, -6.97: It's been a struggle (as much of a struggle as a team with 11 national titles can have), as the Bruins haven't advanced past the Sweet 16 since 2008. (Previous seed: Next four out).

Connecticut Huskies, -8.99: UConn has won four national titles since 1999, most in the nation during that time, but the Huskies have missed the tourney the last three seasons (Previous seed: Everyone else).

Florida Gators, -9.92: The Gators won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007 and made five Elite Eights and a Final Four during the 2010s but haven't won an SEC title since 2014 (Previous seed: Everyone else).

Everyone else


Arizona Wildcats, -11.94 (Previous seed: Everyone else)

Wisconsin Badgers, -13.81 (Previous seed: Everyone else)

Syracuse Orange, -13.85 (Previous seed: Everyone else)

Oregon Ducks, -14.14 (Previous seed: First four out)

Virginia Cavaliers, -16.39 (Previous seed: 16)

Michigan State Spartans, -37.18 (Previous seed: Everyone else)

Duke Blue Devils, -44.95 (Previous seed: Everyone else)

Gonzaga Bulldogs, -45.63 (Previous seed: Everyone else)

North Carolina Tar Heels, -48.26 (Previous seed: Everyone else)

Villanova Wildcats, -48.99 (Previous seed: Everyone else)

Kansas Jayhawks, -49.53 (Previous seed: Everyone else)

Kentucky Wildcats, -51.25 (Previous seed: Everyone else)

The seven primary factors in the College Basketball Fan Misery Index formula:


  • 1. Championships: The more (and more recently) you win championships, the less you have to complain about. However, if your most recent championship was 25-plus years ago, it's almost as if you've never won at all.

  • 2. Final Fours: Winning a national championship isn't the only reason to cut down nets or hang a banner the next season, as making the Final Four is a worthwhile accomplishment. It's hard to be mad when you're playing in a football stadium during the final weekend.

  • 3. Conference championships: Whether you emerge as the best of your peers during the regular season or go on a run in the conference tournament to grab an automatic bid, conference titles are a subject of pride. If you win a lot of them (looking at you, Kansas), no one cares to hear your bellyaching.

  • 4. Tournament berths: How are you going to win a championship if you don't make the tournament? It's bad to not cut the nets at the end of the year, but not even putting yourself in the Big Dance is cause for a venting session or 10. We won't tolerate too much whining from teams that are always in the postseason.

  • 5. Tournament wins: Great, you're in the tournament, but what's the point if you don't do anything once you're there? Seeing your team go one-and-done or lose the first weekend in the postseason is quite painful -- almost as bad as missing the tourney altogether. But if you win tournament games every year and are making regular Sweet 16 runs, you have less reason to complain.

  • 6. Heartbreaks: It's one thing to lose -- it's another to get your heart ripped out of your chest "Temple of Doom"-style. Whether it's blowing a big lead, losing at the buzzer, being shocked by a Cinderella or simply losing the title game, it's OK to be miserable. However, some winning teams scored high in this metric because you're going to have more "bad beats" the more you play at the final table.

  • 7. Rival comparison: Having your team stink and break your heart is bad enough, but having the fans of the schools you hate celebrating championships and tournament runs is salt in the wound.



Note that this formula takes into account the recency factor: Winning a championship in the past five years does not allow you to be miserable, nor does anyone care about some heartbreak that happened 30-40 years ago (get over Keith Smart, Syracuse). Stuff that happened last season is factored more than stuff that happened two-to-five years ago, which means more than stuff six-to-10 years ago, which means more than stuff 11-20 years ago, which means more than ... you get the picture.

Also, all conference titles matter. Plenty of teams (Butler, Wichita State, etc.) beat up on mid-major conferences in the past before being promoted to the big time. Part of their lack of misery comes from being able to participate in this exercise in the first place. That's also why Gonzaga fans aren't likely to complain (or get much sympathy if they try).
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