Where DePaul Ranks Among Schools With Bad Case of March Sadness

Where DePaul Ranks Among Schools With Bad Case of March Sadness
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Fans of DePaul basketball would be better off reading sports history than watching ESPN. And DePaul backers at Illinois sports betting apps won’t be any happier.

The Blue Demons from Chicago have a basketball program that produced the first dominant NBA player in George Mikan; won the NIT in 1945; and were a perennial NCAA Tournament team in the late 1970s and throughout the ‘80s, though several appearances were vacated for rules violations.

Now, the program that basked in the legacy of late Hall of Fame coach Ray Meyer has become a perennial also-ran in college basketball for most of the 21st century.

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DePaul’s Ugly 21st Century History

DePaul has had just one winning season in the past 16 years and last showed up for the Big Dance in 2004 when it won a game and made it to the second round. The Blue Demons last made the Sweet 16 in 1987, but that was vacated by the NCAA.

We plumbed college basketball statistics looking for those programs for which March Madness has mostly meant March Sadness.

Using CollegeBasketballReference.com, IllinoisBet.com created a point system to determine the saddest college basketball programs in March since 2010. The point system awarded 1 point per NCAA Tournament appearance and 1 point for each round made (i.e. 7 points for winning the Championship to 0 points for First Four).

For research purposes, we kept the pool of NCAA Men’s teams to Power 5 conferences (SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12, Big 12) plus the American Athletic, Big East, Atlantic 10 and Mountain West.

Teams Ranked in March Sadness

Rank Schools Points
T1Air Force, Boston College, DePaul, Duquesne, East Carolina, Fordham, San Jose State, Tulane, Washington State0
T10Fresno State, Nebraska, George Washington, UMass2
T14Central Florida, George Mason, Rutgers, South Florida, Southern Methodist3
T19Boise State, Georgia, La Salle, Mississippi State, Northwestern, Rhode Island, Stanford, St. Bonaventure, St. Josephs, Wake Forest4
T29Georgia Tech, Penn State, St. Johns5

DePaul Among Worst Programs in Recent Times

Given the above criteria, DePaul tied for first (meaning worst) with eight other schools for the saddest March programs. The others were Air Force, Boston College, Duquesne, East Carolina, Fordham, San Jose State, Tulane, Washington State. All had zero points.

In DePaul’s case, the Blue Demons have not been to the tournament since 2004 and our calculations go back to 2010.

DePaul has had one winning season (19-17 in 2018-19) and one break-even season (16-16 in 2019-20) in that time. In the last three seasons, DePaul has been 30-53.

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2022-23 Season A Struggle for Blue Demons

This past season, they were 10-23 overall and 3-17 in the Big East under second-year coach Tony Stubblefield.

At one point in the most recent season, DePaul lost 12 games in a row. The Blue Demons beat Seton Hall in a first-round Big East Tournament game, but then gave up a nine-point halftime lead in losing to extremely tough Xavier.

In addition, the Demons will be losing seven players – including their top two in scoring average and minutes played – from their roster. In short, it’s not a bright outlook for March 2024.

Northwestern is also on our list, tied for 19th, but the Wildcats are on a much better trajectory, as indicated by last month’s NCAA Tournament appearance. NU, a No. 7 seed, reached the second round this season before falling to UCLA.

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Bill Ordine

Bill Ordine covers state gambling issues for IllinoisBet.com. He was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years.

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