State of '08: Connecticut
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: Connecticut. For more info, check out the State of '08 introduction.
UCONN - Not much thought involved in making this pick. Outside of a dismal 2007 campaign, Jim Calhoun's Huskies have always hovered around the Top 25, and this year's crew has Elite Eight potential. UCONN blows away their in-state competition.
CENTRAL CONNECITCUT STATE - Despite coming off a down year (208 RPI), CCSU is consistently one of the best teams in the NEC. The other Blue Devils have made three NCAA Tournaments under Howie Dickenman, including 2000, 2002, and 2007.
FAIRFIELD - With the exception of a weak 2006 campaign, Fairfield is almost always competitive in the MAAC. In fact, except for '06, the Stags have won 10+ league games every season since 2003 and should once again reach that mark in 2009 (CHN projects they'll finish 4th in the league). But despite this consistency, the program hasn't made the big dance since 1997.
YALE - After taking over in 1999, James Jones has done a good job giving Yale basketball some needed respect. While the 2002 NIT trip (Yale won their only postseason game in 107 years that season) seems like a bit of an aberration, at least the Bulldogs are now consistently mediocre. Yale has gone .500 or better in the Ivy League in every season since 2001.
SACRED HEART - After joining D1 in 1999, Sacred Heart was one of the worst teams in the country (3 wins in 2000 with a 308 RPI for example), but long-time head coach Dave Bike has finally found some success at the top level. The Pioneers have won 18 games each of the last two years, and won 2 NEC Tournament games each season as well
6. HARTFORD - Since a horrible 2005 campaign (300 in the RPI), Hartford has improved each season. Now under the guise of Dan Leibovitz, the Hawks are coming off an 18-win season in which they finished 2nd in the America East (their best ever AE finish) and are our preseason pick to win the league in 08-09.
7. QUINNIPIAC - The Bulldogs are coming off of one of their bests seasons in years, winning 15 games and going 11-7 in the NEC. But that's not saying much considering from 2004 to 2006, they were one of the worst programs on the East Coast..
Last: Colorado - Next: Washington, D.C.