The NCAA tournament started in 1939. The first year,  eight teams were invited to take part, with the Oregon Ducks becoming the first NCAA champions. The field steadily expanded over the years and was increased to sixteen teams in 1951; 22 in 1953; and 32 in 1975. In the 1980s the tournament really started to grow. The selection process brought in 40 teams for the 1979 tournament and then increased to 48 for the 1980 Championship. By 1982 the Selection Show started airing and in 1983 the tournament was up to 53 teams competing to become National Champions. In 1985 the now familiar 64-team format took shape with four regions seeded one through 16. In 2001 a play in game was added as well as a 65th team. This remained until 2011 when the First Four started and the tournament was increased to the current 68 team field. In the 21st century a total of 257 teams have competed in the NCAA Championship. 143 teams have won at least one game and advanced to the round of 32. 86 teams have played in the Sweet Sixteen, 56 in the Elite Eight, and 35 in the Final Four. 22 different schools have competed in a National Title game with 11 schools winning a title (10 teams if you take into account Louisville’s 2013 vacated title). The expansion of the NCAA tournament has allowed for many more schools to play  in the Big Dance, but also show the world that they can compete in the tournament as well.

Ranking the Top Programs of the 21st Century: #351-#301

Ranking the Top Programs of the 21st Century: #300-#251

# 250 Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Southern Utah Thunderbirds Logo

# 249 Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Southern Miss Golden Eagles Logo

# 248 Marist Red Foxes

Marist Red Foxes Logo

# 247 Southeast Missouri State Redhawks

Southeast Missouri State Redhawks Logo

# 246 DePaul Blue Demons

DePaul Blue Demons Logo

# 245 Bethune-Cookman Wildcats

Bethune-Cookman Wildcats Logo

# 244 Charleston Southern Buccaneers

Charleston Southern Buccaneers Logo

# 243 Air Force Falcons

Air Force Falcons Logo

# 242 Western Carolina Catamounts

Western Carolina Catamounts Logo


# 241 Houston Cougars

Houston Cougars Logo

# 240 Elon Phoenix

Elon Phoenix Logo

# 239 Eastern Michigan Eagles

Eastern Michigan Eagles Logo

# 238 Illinois-Chicago Flames

UIC Flames Logo

# 237 Drake Bulldogs

Drake Bulldogs Logo

# 236 Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic Owls Logo

# 235 Delaware  Fightin’ Blue Hens

Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens Logo

# 234 New Orleans Privateers

New Orleans Privateers Logo

# 233 Jacksonville   Dolphins

Jacksonville Dolphins Logo

# 232 Miami (OH) RedHawks

Miami (OH) RedHawks Logo

# 231 Denver Pioneers

Denver Pioneers Logo

# 230 IUPUI Jaguars

IUPUI Jaguars Logo

# 229 Northern Kentucky Norse

Northern Kentucky Norse Logo

# 228 Arkansas State Red Wolves

Arkansas State Red Wolves Logo

# 227 Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners

Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners Logo

# 226 Cleveland State Vikings

Cleveland State Vikings Logo

# 225 Arizona State Sun Devils

Arizona State Sun Devils Logo

# 224 Norfolk State Spartans

Norfolk State Spartans Logo

# 223 Colorado State Rams

Colorado State Rams Logo

# 222 Alcorn State Braves

Alcorn State Braves Logo

# 221 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders Logo

# 220 San Diego  Toreros

San Diego Toreros Logo

# 219 Green Bay Phoenix

Green Bay Phoenix Logo

# 218 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights Logo

# 217 St. John’s Red Storm

St. John's (NY) Red Storm Logo

# 216 Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota Golden Gophers Logo

# 215 James Madison Dukes

James Madison Dukes Logo

# 214 Pepperdine Waves

Pepperdine Waves Logo

# 213 South Dakota Coyotes

South Dakota Coyotes Logo

# 212 Lafayette Leopards

Lafayette Leopards Logo

# 211 UC Davis Aggies

UC-Davis Aggies Logo

# 210 St. Francis (NY) Terriers

St. Francis (NY) Terriers Logo

# 209 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Logo

# 208 Liberty Flames

Liberty Flames Logo

# 207 Cal State Fullerton Titans

Cal State Fullerton Titans Logo

# 206 St. Bonaventure Bonnies

St. Bonaventure Bonnies Logo

# 205 Texas San Antonio Roadrunners

UTSA Roadrunners Logo

# 204 Clemson Tigers

Clemson Tigers Logo

# 203 Rhode Island Rams

Rhode Island Rams Logo

# 202 North Texas Mean Green

North Texas Mean Green Logo

# 201 North Florida Ospreys

North Florida Ospreys Logo


By Matt Karner

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