There were more than 350 Division I schools that sponsored men’s basketball for the 2020-21 season. Nearly every state in the United States has at least one team competing in Division I. But not all of them. What state doesn’t have a Division I basketball team?
What State Doesn’t Have a Division I Basketball Team?
The only state that doesn’t have at least one Division I basketball team is Alaska.
Every other state has at least one. Five states only have one – Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wyoming – and even Washington D.C. has a few, clocking in at four (American, George Washington, Georgetown, and Howard). Just The Last Frontier is without a Division I hoops program.
That doesn’t mean Alaska has a weak college basketball history. Division II Alaska-Anchorage men’s basketball pulled off one of the greatest-ever upsets in college hoops when it knocked off previously-undefeated No. 2 Michigan, 70-66, on Dec. 28, 1988, at the Utah Seiko Classic. That same Wolverines team, led by Glen Rice, went on to win the program’s first and only national championship that season. UAA men’s basketball was the 1987-88 NCAA Division II runners-up and made the Final Four in 2008, too. The program has an all-time record of 786-478 (.622 winning percentage) and hasn’t finished a season below .500 since 2004-05.
The women’s basketball team at UAA has experienced some success, too. In 2008 and 2009, the team went to the Final Four – its first and second appearances in the national semifinals ever – and since head coach Ryan McCarthy took over the program in 2012, UAA has been dominating the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). From 2014 to 2020, McCarthy had his Seawolves 185-18, and in his tenure, the program has made it to the national championship game, three Sweet 16s, and won the GNAC seven times, and it could have been more if not for the premature cancellation of the 2020 campaign.
There have been many successful basketball players who hail from Alaska, too, like Carlos Boozer, Mario Chalmers, Mike Dunlap, Ruthy Hebard, D’Angelo Harrison, Ramon Harris, Jessica Moore, Trajan Langdon, and more. Alaska Fairbanks is the other Division II basketball program in the state.
Will Alaska ever get a Division I basketball team? Maybe some day. But as of 2021, it remains the only state without a squad competing at that level.