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.
MISSOURI STATE - In nine seasons, Barry Hinson could never get the Bears over the NIT hump. In 2006 & 2007, the Bears made the NIT despite great RPIs of 21 & 36. Chalk it up to a little bad luck. Now Hinson is out, and the future looks murky under Cuonzo Martin. Martin, a first time head coach, inherits a depleted roster that is destined to finish near the bottom of the MVC in 2009.
MISSOURI - For whatever reason, the whole state of Missouri is struggling on the hardwood. The Tigers haven't reached the promise land since 2003. Before then, Mizzou had made 14 of 18 Tournaments, mostly under legendary coach Norm Stewart. But Quin Snyder, and now 3rd year coach Mike Anderson, have struggled to build any positive momentum. Over the past four years, Missouri State's RPI has been about 45 spots higher per year on average. This could be the first season since 2003 that the Tigers are legitimately the best team in the state.
SAINT LOUIS - While MSU/SMS hasn't made the Tourney since 1999, SLU is also in the midst of a decade-long drought. Since Lorenzo Romar led the Bills to the 2000 Dance, there's only been 2 NIT trips and a whole bunch of mediocrity. Rick Majerus was brought in to change things, but its hard to imagine anything better than an NIT bid this year.
UMKC - Neither the past nor the present has been particularly kind to UMKC. The Kangaroos have never made the Big Dance, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. 2005 was the last year UMKC looked dangerous in the Summit League, but even that year went sour after they started 9-0 in league pay.
SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE - Unlike UMKC, at least SEMO has made the NCAA Tournament. In 2000, the Redhawks almost upset LSU in the opening round after going 14-4 in the OVC. Since that time, SEMO has really struggled, having only finished above .500 once. The last three seasons have been particularly bad with consecutive sub 290 RPIs.
Last: Mississippi - Next: New Jersey
State of '08: The Introduction (& State list/links)