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Familiar names outside the Top 50

Yes, we're counting down the Top 50 programs. But not to be forgotten are the other 250 qualifying Division I teams. Here are some of the highlights of those outside the Top 50:

• Some of the best-known schools that failed to crack our Top 50 include NC State (52), Marquette (T-61), Boston College (T-70), Tennessee (99) and USC (T-132). These schools are mostly in these spots because they play in ultracompetitive conferences where they have failed to rack up tons of conference titles.

• Everyone's favorite mid-major conference, the Missouri Valley, didn't have a Top 50 team. Southern Illinois was the top-ranked MVC program, coming in with a tie at No. 53.

• The lowest-rated school that made a Final Four since 1985 was Providence (T-111), which was just behind George Mason (100), another one-time Final Four team.

• The school with the most NCAA tournament appearances to not appear in the Top 50 is Iowa State (T-57). The Cyclones' 12 NCAA tournament appearances were canceled out by weak showings in conference play. Only twice did they earn the best win-loss record in their conference.

• The school with the most conference tournament titles to not appear in the Top 50 is Winthrop at No. 79. The Eagles have won nine Big South titles.

Notre Dame is in a tie with Mississippi State at No. 86, mostly because the Irish weren't part of a conference until joining the Big East in 1995. But despite being in the league for more than a decade, they still don't have a conference title -- regular-season or tournament.

• The lowest-rated school to have earned a 1-seed is Washington (T-125), dragged down by 12 losing seasons.

• Of the schools that were eliminated because they didn't have the minimum 15 Division I seasons, the school that would have finished the highest is Belmont (132).

Northwestern was the lowest-ranked school from a BCS conference. The Wildcats are tied with Morgan State at No. 291 (with an astounding minus-59 points).

• The lowest-rated program that had the benefit of at least one All-American was Oregon State (T-245), which had Gary Payton in 1990.

La Salle (T-132) is the lowest-rated program that has enjoyed a 30-win season since 1984-85. It came in the 1989-90 season, when the Explorers went 30-2 under longtime coach Speedy Morris. La Salle was a 4-seed that year in the NCAA tournament but bowed out in the second round. That also happened to be the last season the program won an NCAA tournament game.

• The highest-rated program to fail to win an NCAA tournament game since 1985 was Louisiana-Monroe (T-96). The Warhawks have had six tries, failing to get closer than a dozen points in any of them.

• How about South Carolina? The Gamecocks are two-time winners of the postseason NIT but could do no better than tied for 186th place. But those NIT titles catapulted them ahead of SEC foe Ole Miss, sending the Rebels to the bottom of the SEC barrel in a tie at No. 190.

• In case you wanted another reason why Drake's improbable 2007-08 season was truly remarkable, here it is: The Bulldogs accumulated minus-45 points overall in our scoring system. That's despite a nine-point tally this past season. That 20-win season and those regular-season and Missouri Valley Conference titles (along with the penalty for a first-round loss to 12th-seeded Western Kentucky) single-handedly erased the heartbreak of nine losing seasons.

Harold Shelton, Nick Loucks and Chris Fallica are researchers at ESPN.