State of '08: Colorado
Duke or Carolina? BC or UMASS? Gonzaga or Washington.. or Washington State? What is the best program in each state? 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 ranking of every program in every state.. 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: Colorado. For more info, check out the State of '08 introduction.
AIR FORCE - Throughout the 80's and 90's, Air Force was simply a very bad program. But something changed in 03-04, and since then the Falcons have made two NCAA Tournament trips and the semifinals of the NIT. Jeff Reynolds took over last year and finished a mediocre season with a .500 record and an RPI of 173. Its hard to tell what the future holds for Air Force basketball.
COLORADO - During the same period that Air Force struggled, Colorado was also bad, missing out on the postseason every season from 1969 to 1995. Although Ricardo Patton's tenure ended on a down note, he still led the program to 6 postseason trips in 11 seasons. Despite that improvement, Air Force has clearly outperformed Colorado in the last five years, averaging 87.6 in the RPI compared to 122.6 for CU. With Jeff Bzdelik on board, I like Colorado's future better though.
COLORADO STATE - Tim Miles had a rough go in his first season at CSU, winning just 5 D1 games and losing to DII Panhandle State along the way. But this was a bit of an aberration for a program that has some solid runs over the years, including a tourney bid in 2003 and three NIT trips between 1996 and 1999.
DENVER - The Pioneers rebounded from an embarrassing 2007 campaign (335th in the RPI, edging out UNC by 1 spot) with improved play in 2008. At one point, Denver was 7-5 in the Sun Belt before fading late. From 2004 to 2006, Denver wasn't half bad, making a legit run at the NCAA Tourney in 2005 when they won 12 SB games before losing to ULL in the conference title game.
NORTHERN COLORADO - The Bears haven't experienced much success since joining D1 a handful of years ago. But there definitely have been signs of progress. Finally becoming affiliated with a conference, the Big Sky, was a huge step in the program's future. Last year, UNC (the other one) won 6 league games, and had perhaps their biggest win ever.. knocking off Top 100 San Diego State in San Diego.
Last: California (24 teams) - Next: Connecticut