November 2, 2016. After 108 years, the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series. It ended the longest American professional sports title drought and multiple curses of the Cubbies. Some thought it would never happen, but it did. So if the Cubs can win a World Series, all droughts can end at some point, right? That’s what some college basketball fans and programs have to be thinking today. It got us thinking: Which programs have a legit chance to end droughts this season?
Now, none of these droughts are to the extent of the Cubs’ title drought. Not even close. But, nonetheless, these droughts have made fans of the teams suffer and say “Next year!” year after year. Some of these are title droughts, some Final Four droughts, some NCAA Tournament droughts. But they are all droughts that the teams can’t wait to break. Here are the programs that could finally breakthrough this season.
The Drought: No NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999
Cubs fans would laugh at the year 1999 and say “You consider 17 years a drought?” So it’s not quite 108 years, but for a program that made the tournament three years in a row from 1997-1999, including an Elite Eight in 1998, it’s been a while. The Rams are primed to end the drought this season, as we have them at #22 in our Preseason Top 25. If Rhody can’t end it this season, people should be frustrated in the northeast.
The Drought: No Sweet 16 appearance since 1974
For a team that has made the NCAA Tournament 9 times since the turn of the century, the Bluejays haven’t had much success in the Big Dance. 42 years without a Sweet 16 may finally come to an end this year. The Bluejays are loaded with talent, we’ve got them #18 in our Top 25, and have a great coach in Greg McDermott. Don’t be surprised if Creighton is finally playing in the second week in March.
The Drought: No NCAA Tournament appearance ever
The first version of March Madness was played in 1939. There’s been 78 NCA Tournaments and Northwestern hasn’t made one. Well, one Chicago team ended a drought, so why not two? It seems like every year we think this could be the year the Wildcats make it, but they actually could this year. They project to be a middle of the pack Big Ten team, but a couple big wins here and there and we may finally see Northwestern’s name called on Selection Sunday.
The Drought: No Final Four appearance ever
Gonzaga hasn’t missed an NCAA tournament since 1998 and has made 7 Sweet 16s during that span. Two of those seven they made the Elite Eight, but the Bulldogs have never broken through to make the Final Four, despite being seeded as high as one and two. This team isn’t as hyped as some of the other teams, but it could be the one that finally gets it done for this basketball crazy school.
The Drought: No Final Four appearance ever
The Musketeers have became one of the most consistent programs in the country over the past 15 years or so. They’ve missed the tournament just twice over the the past decade and a half, and have made two Elite Eights (2004, 2008). For a school that doesn’t have football, basketball is #1 there, so they’ve got to be dying for a Final Four. The Musketeers are #7 in our Top 25, so Phoenix and getting rid of the final four-less tag is a real possibility
The Drought: No National Championship since 1941
Wisconsin was one of the best programs in the country early on. Before there was an NCAA Tournament, the Badgers are considered the National Champions in 1912, 1914, and 1916 by both the Premo-Porreta Poll and the Helms Athletic Foundation. The Badgers then won the third NCAA Tournament ever in 1941. Then the Badgers went 47 years without an NCAA Tournament. They finally made it in both 1994 and 1997 and in 1999 they started a streak that is still going of 18 straight NCAA Tournament appearances. They made the Final Four in 2000, 2014 and 2015 and the Championship game in ’15. But the Badgers are still looking for that first title in 75 years. They definitely have what it takes, returning everyone from last year’s Sweet 16 team. We can’t spoil our Preseason Top 25 Countdown, but they’re a top 6 team and have what it takes to end the drought.
The Drought: No Final Four or National Championship since 1939
Oregon won the first National Championship game ever in 1939. They haven’t been to the Final Four since. That’s 77 years without a Final Four birth. While basketball at Oregon definitely hasn’t been what it is at Wisconsin, it still has been a very successful program as of late. This year could be the Ducks greatest shot at ending both the Final Four and National Championship drought, as they’re in our Top 6. They were a #1 seed last season and return 4 starters from that team. Big things could be happening in Eugene, which could finally end the drought.