State of '08: Maryland
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.
For more info, check out the State of '08 introduction.
MARYLAND - The recent struggles of the Terps under Gary Williams are well documented, but as far as the Crab Cake State goes, Maryland dominates..
LOYOLA - Considering how epically bad Loyola was from about 2000 to 2005, the program has come a long way. Jimmy Patsos deserves credit for turning around a program that was 1-27 the year before he arrived in 2005. The past two seasons, Loyola has won 37 games, and gone 24-12 in MAAC play. The next step is doing some damage in the league tournament.
UMBC - 2008 was a banner season for Randy Monroe and the Retrievers. They won 24 games, dominated the America East with a 13-3 record, rolled through the conference tournament, and faced Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament. Plus, UMBC was 85th in the RPI, just 3 spots behind ACC member Maryland.
MOUNT SAINT MARY'S - The Mount returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999, beating in-state rival Coppin State in the play-in game. This was the culmination of a nice rebuilding job undertaken by 6th year coach Milan Brown. Now that the Mount returns star Jeremy Goode, a return trip is certainly not out of the question.
COPPIN STATE - The Eagles were arguably one of the worst NCAA Tournament teams of all-time last year. They finished under .500 in the lowly MEAC and only had one Top 250 win going into the conference tournament. They also set a record by being the 1st tourney team with 20 losses. But with the exception of a brutal 2002 campaign (316 RPI), Coppin has consistently been one of the better teams in the MEAC since 1997, the year of their epic win over South Carolina in the NCAA Tournament.
6. NAVY - Like many of its Maryland counterparts, Navy has also improved a lot in the past couple of years. When Billy Lange took over, the Midshippmen were struggling to win 5 games a season. Last year though, they won 16 games overall and finished 2nd in the NEC. Lange is trying to return Navy to its former glory days of the 80's and 90's when the program made 8 NCAA Tournaments in 16 seasons between 1985 and 2000.
7. MORGAN STATE - Todd Bozeman has done a solid job in his two years at Morgan State. Last year, the Bears won 22 games, captured the MEAC regular season title and made the NIT. Not bad considering the Bears went 4-26 in 2006. The program still needs a couple more successful seasons before it passes Coppin or Navy on this list.
8.TOWSON - Although Towson plays in a better league (CAA) than many of its in-state counterparts, there's been little success over the last decade. Since joining the CAA in 2002, the Tigers have yet to finish .500 in league play, a trend that I expect to continue in 08-09
9. UMES - The Hawks are in the midst of a horrible dry stretch. They've only won 24 games in the last five seasons. There's nothing positive to add.
Last: Louisiana - Next: Massachuesetts
State of '08: The Introduction (& State list/links)