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Columnists | NCAA Tournament | Message Board

By Jon Teitel

March 11th, 2006

Most Unlikely Conference Champions


You don't necessarily have to be that good to make the NCAA Tournament.  You just need to peak (or get lucky) at the right time.  It also doesn't help to play in a  weak conference.  The following is a list of the most unlikely Conference Tournament champions, and not surprisingly they are also some of the weakest NCAA Tournament teams ever.


Most Unlikely Conference Tournament Champions of Past 20 Years


1. 1999 Florida A&M: started season 1-13, finished regular season 8-18, RPI 263, strength of schedule: 305, final record: 12-19, lost to Duke 99-58 in 1st round of NCAA tournament


2. 1998 Prairie View: strength of schedule: 271, final record: 12-17, lost to Kansas 110-52 in 1st round of NCAA tournament


3. 1991 Georgia State: finished 5th in conference during regular season, final record: 16-15, lost to Arkansas 117-76 in 1st round of NCAA tournament


4. 2005 Alabama A&M: started season 1-8, finished regular season 13-13, RPI: 231, strength of schedule: 273, final record: 16-13, lost play-in game to Oakland 79-69


5. 1987 Fairfield: finished 7th in the MAAC, finished regular season 12-15, lost to Indiana 92-58 in 1st round of NCAA tournament


6. 2005 Oakland: started season 0-7, finished regular season 9-18, RPI: 194, beat Alabama A&M in play-in game and then lost to UNC 96-68 in 1st round of NCAA tournament


7. 1992 Eastern Illinois: finished 4th in conference during regular season, final record: 17-14, lost to Indiana 94-55 in 1st round of NCAA tournament


8. 2003 Texas Southern: started season 13-12, then won last 5 games against teams without an RPI in the top-200, RPI: 217, final record: 18-13, lost play-in game to North Carolina-Asheville (whose final record was 15-17) 92-84 in OT


9. 1996 Central Florida: finished with an 11-19 record, 6-10 in the Atlantic Sun, won just 3 home games all season, lost to UMASS 92-70 in 1st round of NCAA tournament.


10. 1998 Nicholls State: started season 2-8, strength of schedule: 241, final record: 19-10, lost to Arizona 99-60 in 1st round of NCAA tournament



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