One of the most entertaining aspects of any college basketball season is the surprising teams.
Every year, teams climb out of the woods to compete for league titles and automatic March Madness bids.
We ranked each of the 32 last-place finishers from the ’19-20 season based on which teams are most likely to go from worst to first in their respective league. Find out which teams are capable of making the jump.
32) Portland, WCC
The Pilots might not be terrible with the addition of Washington State grad transfer Ahmed Ali. Gonzaga isn’t going anywhere, though, rendering Portland’s worst-to-first hopes all but impossible.
31) Chicago State, WAC
You have to go back to 2009 to find Chicago State’s most recent winning season. Additionally, the Cougars are just 2-70 in WAC play over the past five years. New Mexico State, meanwhile, has captured either the league’s regular season or conference tournament title every year since 2012.
30) The Citadel, SoCon
Former ETSU coach Steve Forbes leaving for Wake Forest will open the door for someone, but it’s unlikely to impact The Citadel much. Duggar Baucom is 16-74 in the SoCon since taking over in 2015. This past season was the worst mark, going 0-18. The Bulldogs have two things going for them: Hayden Brown’s returning from injury and the randomness that comes with a fast-paced offense.
29) Kennesaw State, Atlantic Sun
This is a significant hole to dig out of for Kennesaw State. The Owls compiled a 1-28 record last year and were a complete mess offensively. A full season from Jamie Lewis — a former Wake Forest transfer and the team’s top perimeter shooter — could go a long way.
28) Columbia, Ivy League
Based solely on the fact that the Ivy has fewer teams than any other conference, it is technically easier to go from worst to first in this league than any other. Columbia loses Mike Smith, though, who led the Ivy in scoring at 22.8 points per game. With Smith off to Michigan and redshirted Patrick Tape headed to Duke, there isn’t much hope here for a significant turnaround.
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