There are many roads to success. For the 351 Division I college basketball teams the goal each year is to win the National Championship. Only one team can accomplish this goal, but  others set benchmarks along the way. Four teams will be able to say that they played in the last weekend of the season, and eight will call themselves elite. Thirty two teams can claim a regular season Conference Championship while only sixty eight teams will play in the NCAA tournament. For a majority of  teams, the possibility of success is not fully achieved; yet other teams stun the world (and possibly themselves) as they accomplish the unthinkable.

Each team will count their successes at the end of each season, but the true success of the program is measured over time. Since the 1999-2000 season, 257 different NCAA Division I basketball teams have made the postseason tournament. During this span, eleven programs have been crowned as champions; multiple #11 seeds have made the Final Four; and a  #16 seed beat a #1 seed for the first time ever. Every year each program develops and builds on past performances to seek the ultimate goal: a National Championship. Based on this, which program has been the most successful in the 21st century?

The real question is: what makes a successful program? What are the true determining factors that can be used to measure all of these programs on an even playing field?  Success in the sporting world has come down to winning games and winning championships. With March Madness becoming such a major sporting event, it certainly plays a huge role   in how many define a successful program. Coaches nowadays are fired or forced to resign– even with a winning record at the school–because of the lack of success they have in the NCAA tournament. However, when looking at the tournament setup, it may not be the most even field. While thirty two are guaranteed a spot, thirty six teams receive a spot based on the their season results. Teams play in conferences of all levels, skill, and ability and are judged based on these factors. Because of this, finding true success may be difficult. All in all there are many ways to truly determine a successful program outside of NCAA tournament success.

Tournament success, regular season and conference tournament championships, NCAA tournament appearances and overall win percentage  combine to determine a program’s true success. These factors are extremely important in determining whether a team’s season is a success or not. The following rankings of the best NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball programs of the 21st century are based on these combined statistics.

# 351: Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks


# 350: Howard Bison


# 349: Central Arkansas Bears

# 348: Dartmouth Big Green

# 347: San Jose State Spartans

# 346: Presbyterian Blue Hose

# 345: Longwood Lancers

# 344: Kennesaw State Owls

# 343: Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Cougars

# 342: Fordham Rams

# 341: UC Riverside Highlanders

# 340: Citadel Bulldogs

# 339: Bryant Bulldogs

# 338: St. Francis (PA) Red Flash

# 337   Houston Baptist Huskies

# 336 Sacramento State Hornets

# 335 Youngstown State Penguins

# 334 Loyola Marymount Lions

# 333 Idaho State Bengals

# 332 Florida International Panthers

# 331 Sacred Heart Pioneers

# 330 Stetson Hatters

# 329 New Hampshire Wildcats

# 328 Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks

# 327 Army Black Knights

# 326 Texas-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros

# 325 Hartford Hawks

# 324 Towson Tigers

# 323 Tennessee State Tigers

# 322 Virginia Military Keydets

# 321 Rice Owls

# 320 Maine Black Bears

# 319 Duquesne Dukes

# 318 Portland Pilots

# 317 Brown Bears

# 316 UMKC Kangaroos

# 315 East Carolina Pirates

# 314 Colgate Raiders

# 313 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

# 312 Idaho Vandals

# 311 Abilene Christian Wildcats

# 310 Seattle Redhawks

# 309 South Carolina Upstate Spartans

# 308 Columbia Lions

# 307 Omaha Mavericks

# 306 Evansville Purple Aces

# 305 Santa Clara Broncos

# 304 San Francisco Dons

# 303 Incarnate Word Cardinals

# 302 Grand Canyon Antelopes

# 301 Chicago State Cougars

By Matt Karner

Big East hoops writer for NCAAM Review Bracketologist for Busted Bracketology ( Twitter: @karner44 Instagram: @karner44