NCAA Basketball: Teams With the Most Consecutive March Madness Appearances

Published 02/24/2021, 2:32 PM EST
Feb 2, 2021; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats forward Davion Bradford (21) dunks against Kansas Jayhawks guard Dajuan Harris (3) during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY


The 2021 edition of March Madness is almost here and top schools across the nation would be raring to enter the tournament and challenge for the most coveted championship in college basketball. 

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The NCAA Division I tournament is a prestigious event and hosts only select teams every year. There is a protocol behind teams making the cut, and there are a few schools who’ve constantly marked their presence at the grandest stage in college basketball. 

Five longest March Madness streaks in college basketball 

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Before we dive into the list, it should be noted that the suspended 2020 edition of the March Madness does not end a team’s ongoing streak. The year would just be taken off the consideration.

5. Gonzaga Bulldogs (1999-present)

Currently the top-ranked team in the nation, Gonzaga Bulldogs have been making an appearance at the NCAA tournament since the 1998-99 season. 

Feb 20, 2021; Spokane, Washington, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Anton Watson (22) flexes after a basket and foul during a game against the San Diego Toreros in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs won 106-69. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Few took over head coaching duties in 1999 and has made the Bulldogs one of the four teams to have made a March Madness appearance every year in the 21st century. So far Gonzaga holds a 21-year streak of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and they’re bound to extend it further with this season!

4. Michigan State (1998-present)

The Michigan State Spartans are two-time National Champions and have a sublime streak of making it to 22-straight NCAA tournaments. Tom Izzo has been a part of the journey ever since his third year in charge as the head coach of the team. 

Feb 23, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Joshua Langford (1) and guard Rocket Watts (2) celebrate during the first half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

However, as things stand now, the Spartans’ exclusive streak is under trouble as they’re ranked 10th in the Big-Ten conference with a sub-par 6-9 conference record.

3. Duke Blue Devis (1996-present)

The Duke Blue Devils transformed into a powerhouse at the NCAA Tournament ever since Mike Krzyzewski took charge as the head coach in 1980. Krzyzewski won back-to-back titles with Duke in 1991 and 1992, and his record would’ve been much better if not for a slip-up in the 1995 season. 

Feb 1, 2021; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes forward Anthony Walker (1) watches after making a three point shot over Duke Blue Devils forward Matthew Hurt (21) during the second half at Watsco Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Devils are currently third on this list with 24 straight March Madness appearances, but their streak is also under jeopardy this season. The Blue Devils are ranked sixth in the ACC with a 9-6 conference record and should vastly improve in the remaining games to boost their chances.

2. North Carolina Tar Heels (1975-2001)

The North Carolina Tar Heels are the only team that isn’t on an active streak in this list. UNC made 27 consecutive March Madness appearances between 1975 and 2001, and a majority of it came under head coach Dean Smith who coached the team from 1961-1997. 

Feb 20, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Caleb Love (2) celebrates with guard R.J. Davis (4) after scoring in the first half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina’s streak came to an end in the 2002 season when head coach Matt Doherty led the Tar Heels to an unimpressive seventh-place finish in the ACC conference. 

1. Kansas Jayhawks (1990-present)

The Kansas Jayhawks might not be the most winningest team in March Madness history, but they’re the most consistent. The Jayhawks have been entering their name in the NCAA tournament for the past 30 years! 

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Such is the massive accomplishment that the three-time National Champions are currently enjoying. They’re the team with the longest streak ever. Former head coach Roy Williams began the streak during the 1989-90 season by taking the Jayhawks to the second round of the Division I tournament. 

Jan 30, 2021; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Marcus Garrett (0) shoots the ball against Tennessee Volunteers guard Victor Bailey Jr. (12) during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Now, Bill Self is continuing the streak since taking over in 2004 and has also won a National Championship in the process. Kansas is currently ranked third in the Big 12 conference with a  17-8 overall record in the ongoing 2020-21 college basketball season. 

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Arjun Athreya

1800 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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