State of '08: Arkansas
What is the top D1 basketball program in each state.. and which program is the worst? While there's not much competition in Hawaii.. there are great debates to be had in loaded regions like California, North Carolina, and Texas. The State of '08 is a state by state ranking based mostly on recent success (the last five years) mixed in with subjective factors such as conference prestige, historical success, and overall program direction.
Up today: Arkansas. For more info, check out the State of '08 introduction.
Arkansas - With so many unfamiliar faces on next year's roster, no one's really sure what to expect.. will the Razorbacks be bad or really bad? Also on the negative end, the glory days of the early to mid-nineties (National Champs in '94) seem like distant memories. Regardless, there's not much competition for the title of top team in this state.
UALR - The Trojans bounced back from two down seasons to win 11 Sun Belt games, and won 20 games against all competition. Still, its been years since UALR was relevant on the national scene, or even in the Sun Belt title race. 1996 was their last postseason trip (NIT), and 1990 the last NCAA Tournament bid (which was the end of coach Mike Newell's late eighties glory run).
Arkansas State - The newly titled Red Foxes (nee Indians), Sun Belt rivals of UALR, are coming off a brutal season that included just 8 D1 wins, an RPI of 294, and a 9-game losing streak (at least one of their 8 wins was over UALR..) John Brady was hired in the off-season to right the ship, and hopefully get the program to the Big Dance for just the 2nd time ever.
Central Arkansas - The Fighting Pippens (this is where Scottie went), are new to D1 ball having completed just two seasons with the big boys. All things considered, last year's 10-16 record against D1 teams isn't that bad, and their 280 RPI topped Arkansas State and UAPB.
UAPB - While the Golden Lions are bad by any standard, 310 RPI last year, just two wins over Top 250 teams in the past three seasons, members of the SWAC (the worst league in D1), etc, this program is actually substantially better than it was just a handful of years ago. From 1999 to 2004, UAPB won just 17 D1 games combined in 6 seasons.