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March 11, 2012

Ask sports: What are the longest current NCAA Tournament streaks?

What are the longest current streaks of making the NCAA Tournament?

Kansas is a lock to extend its streak of NCAA Tournament appearances to 23 years, which is the nation’s best. The Jayhawks last missed the tournament in 1989, Roy Williams’ first season, when KU was on probation after winning the 1988 NCAA title.

Only two streaks have been longer in NCAA history: North Carolina’s 27-year run from 1975 through 2001 and Arizona’s streak of 25 years from 1985 until 2009.

Duke is next up in active streaks, having last missed in 1995. The Blue Devils have only missed one tournament since 1983.

Michigan State (14 years in a row), Gonzaga (13), Texas (13) and Wisconsin (13), are next.

Only Texas would appear to have to sweat out the selection show today.

The longest streaks we know will end Sunday will be Pittsburgh’s 10-year run and Villanova’s 7-year mark. Each team had miserable conference seasons in the Big East.

Tennessee (6 years), Texas A&M (6 years) are next. Both should end. Xavier’s 6-year run is squarely on the bubble.

Kansas State’s expected three-year run is a little farther down, but it puts the Wildcats in the company of roughly 20 other programs currently. It will tie for the school’s second-best NCAA run ever, though, matching the 1980-82 teams and only one year behind the 1987-90 squads.

On the flip side, some long streaks of NCAA absence could be ending today.

Harvard, the Ivy League champion, is in the field for the first time since 1946. Loyola (Md.) is making its second appearance in school history, 18 years after the first one.

And, of course, there is the drama around Northwestern. The Wildcats lost a Big Ten first-round game to Minnesota that many experts felt they had to have to get into the NCAA field. Should they be wrong, however, Northwestern will make its long-awaited NCAA debut, 73 years after the first tournament was held.

Joshua Wood

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