Top 10 Moments in ETSU Basketball: #2

#2: First Top 25 Ranking

For the 2nd best moment in ETSU basketball history I’ve decided to go with ETSU earning their first Top 25 ranking, which occurred in December of 1990.

The expectations were high for ETSU basketball going into the 1990-1991 season, they had just come off their 3rd straight Southern Conference championship and they were returning the starting five that had won those 3 straight titles. The expectations were high nationally as well, the college basketball polls had ETSU ranked right outside the top 25 to start the season and when the polls came out on December 11th 1990 they had the Bucs at #24.

As the season progressed ETSU slowly made their way up the poll as they kept winning and by early February the Bucs were ranked 10th in the nation in the AP poll and 9th in the coaches poll.

Despite losing 3 Southern Conference games ETSU still finished the year in the top 20 in both polls. The 1991 Bucs would go on to earn a disappointing 10th seed in the NCAA tournament, even though they had only lost 4 games and were ranked all season long. ETSU faced 7th seeded Iowa without Calvin Talford and Greg Dennis who were both out injured and after leading throughout most of the first and second half the Bucs season would end prematurely with a 73-76 loss.

The 1990-1991 season is arguably the greatest season ever in ETSU basketball history even without getting a NCAA Tournament win and I often wonder what would have happened if Greg Dennis had played the whole year and if Calvin Talford had been able to play in the NCAA tournament. Would they have swept the Southern Conference and gone into the tournament with only 1 loss and a much higher seed in the tournament with a better chance to make a big run? Who knows, but I do know it was a special moment when Buc fans saw East Tennessee State in the top 25 polls for the very first time.

At the top of the post I’ve included a short highlight reel of the 1990-1991 season when ETSU earned their first top 25 ranking.

A recap of the top 10 so far:
#10: 2009 A-Sun Championship
#9: Calvin Talford Winning the Dunk Contest.
#8: First win against Tennessee
#7: 2003 Southern Conference Championship
#6: 2003-2004 Season
#5: Keith Jennings being named a second-team consensus All-American
#4: The 1989 Southern Conference Championship
#3: 3 Straight wins over NC State
#2: First Top 25 Ranking

4 thoughts on “Top 10 Moments in ETSU Basketball: #2

  1. i think we got as high as 8th in one poll franklin.

    your number 1 pick im thinking you are going with the Sports Illustrated piece>>>>>????

  2. I’d vote for the ETSU-Ohio St NCAA Mid-East Regional game in 1968. ETSU beat Florida State by 10 points in the first round to progress to the next game where the Bucs almost beat Ohio State who went on to play in the final 4. Skeeter Davis was an awesome player to watch! This game has to be in the top 10! And I’d submit the ETSU-Fla St game that year as well. Maybe there’s no film of either game which may explain the oversight, but the ETSU-OSU game was an awesome one to watch. I believe the Bucs went cold for something like 12 minutes, and without that, we’d have beat the Buckeyes.

  3. Correction: In my post moments ago, I got the player’s name wrong. It was “Skeeter” Swift was another high scorer at ETSU who would have benefited by the 3-point line. He scored 1,367 points and was the Bucs’ leading scorer for three years in a row from 1966-69 — all without the benefit of the bonus basket.
    As a rookie with the ABA’s Dallas Chaparrals, Swift shot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.
    If you’ve seen the movie Jaws, the salty-captain on the boat that went out to catch Jaws reminds me of Skeeter. An interesting note about Skeeter was that one leg was shorter than the other, so he limped when he walked or ran which is amazing that he overcame that and was beyond average.
    The shot I remember most was against Austin Peay in the game the Bucs had to win to get into the 1968 NCAA Tourney. Skeeter tied the game with a jump shot – not a hail Mary – from beyond the mid-court line and he make it! The Bucs crowd went wild! We went on to win and advanced to the second game in the NCAA beating Fla St and then losing to Ohio State. Skeeter Swift was a great ball handler and an awesome player to watch. More here:,%2520Topps.jpg&imgrefurl=

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