One of the most talked about stories of the current college basketball season is how much trouble the blue bloods are having trying to get into this season's NCAA Tournament. A few very familiar names are likely to be missing from the field when Selection Sunday rolls around.

That got me thinking about which teams really are blue bloods -- the historic big names of the sport, which have been successful over a long period of time?  And then, which programs are more "new bloods" – those which have had their success more recently?

So, I drew some lines and came up with a definition. The reputations of the big name programs are built on NCAA Tournament success. So, I looked at teams that have won at least three titles, at least one of which has come in the 64+ team tournament era, and appeared in at least one Final Four prior to that.

Here is the list of blue bloods, with their tournament prospects for this season, in order of tournament appearances. The list of "new bloods" appears below that.



59 Appearances, 17 Final Fours, 8 Championships, most recently 2012.

Kentucky rarely misses the field, but has done so twice in the last 20 tournaments. The Wildcats are currently 5-12, so an at-large bid this year would require a miracle.

North Carolina

50 Appearances, 20 Final Fours (most ever), 6 Championships, most recently 2017

UNC did not miss a tournament from 1975-2001, but has missed three since and would have definitely missed the 2020 tournament if there had been one. The Tar Heels are in trouble again, although they are the last team in the latest bracket. Their problem is a lack of quality wins, although a few chances to correct that are coming up.


49 Appearances, 18 Final Fours, 11 Championships, most recently 1995

As bluebloods go, UCLA has been struggling some since a run of three straight Final Fours from 2006-2008. Mick Cronin seems to have righted the ship and the Bruins are a likely tournament team this season.


48 Appearances, 15 Final Fours, 3 Championships, most recently 2008

Kansas has the longest current streak of appearances at 30, having last missed the field in 1989. The Jayhawks are likely to extend that this season despite a rough stretch of play lately. They have lost five of their last seven in a stacked Big 12.


43 Appearances, 16 Final Fours, 5 Championships, most recently 2015

Duke's streak of 24 consecutive tournament appearances is in serious jeopardy. The Blue Devils fell to 7-7 on the season with a loss to North Carolina on Saturday. There is still time to right the ship, but Duke needs to get hot and stay hot.


43 Appearances, 10 Final Fours, 3 Championships, most recently 2013

Due to COVID-19 issues, Louisville has only played once since Jan. 27, but for now, the Cardinals look like an NCAA Tournament team this season.


39 Appearances, 8 Final Fours, 5 Championships, most recently 1987.

Indiana has been the most underperforming blueblood in recent years. The Hoosiers have only been in the tournament 11 times in the 2000s, with just 14 wins. Their last appearance was in 2016 and they were a bubble team last season. Indiana is right back on the bubble again this season, but a win over Iowa on Sunday has the 10-8 Hoosiers in the bracket for now.


39 Appearances 6 Final Fours, 3 Championships, most recently 2018.

Villanova has the most borderline of credentials to be on this list, but I do not think it's unwarranted. The Wildcats are strong again this season and are in contention for a No. 1 seed.

Bracketology top seeds

SeedHinkle 1Hinkle 2Bankers Life 1Bankers Life 2
No. 1      
No. 2      



40 Appearances, 6 Final Fours 1 Championship in 2003

Syracuse has been relevant during most of the 64+ team era, so the Orange is not really "new", but they have not had the success in the tournament to merit blueblood status. They are on the outside looking in this season as far as the tournament goes, but there is still time to change that.

Michigan State

39 Appearances, 10 Final Fours, 2 Championships, most recently 2000

Other than a moment of Magic in 1979, Michigan State has had most of its tournament success since making the Final Four in 1999. The Spartans have been in seven other Final Fours since then and were good enough last season to give it another go. MSU is a longshot to make the tournament this season though.


33 Appearances, 5 Final Fours, 4 Championships, most recently 2014.

The Huskies are probably the purest example of a newblood. Since 1990, they have been in the tournament 20 times and had only two first round exits. All of their Final Fours have come since 1999, but they were in six Sweet 16s in seven appearances before that. They are a likely tournament team this season, especially if their best player, James Bouknight, gets healthy soon.

Ohio State

33 Appearances, 11 Final Fours, 1 Championship, 1960.

Ohio State was one of the dominant teams of the black-and-white TV era of college hoops. The Buckeyes were in four of the first six Final Fours, before that was capitalized and it was an eight-team tournament. They made four more appearances in the 1960, then went relatively dormant for about 30 years. They are back now, with three Final Four appearances since 1999 and they are a contender to make another one this season.


24 Appearances, 4 Final Fours, 1 Championship, 1941.

Wisconsin was one of the worst programs in the Big Ten through the 1970s and 80s, but things changed when Dick Bennett took over in 1995. Now, they are consistently at or near the top of the Big Ten and a regular in the NCAA tournament. It was the Badgers who ended Kentucky's undefeated run in the 2015 Final Four. Wisconsin is a top 25 team again this season and comfortably in the field.


22 Appearances, 5 Final Fours, 2 Championships (2006-07)

The Gators are a relative newcomer to the NCAA Tournament, having made its first appearance in 1987. They are the most recent team to repeat as champion when they followed up their 2006 title with another in 2007. They appear to be a middle of the bracket team this season.


22 Appearances, 1 Final Four, No Championships.

Gonzaga is the ultimate newblood. The Bulldogs are just missing a title to cement it. They have been in the last 21 NCAA tournament and came within a whisper of that title in 2017, when they lost to North Carolina in the championship game. They would have been one of the favorites last year and they are in that position again this time around as the projected No.1 national seed