State of '08: New Jersey
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.
SETON HALL - Despite producing legendary prep talent, New Jersey has never been a collegiate powerhouse. Seton Hall is tops in the state, but the Pirates are in the midst of a very mediocre run. Louis Orr led the Pirates to NCAA Tournaments in 2004 & 2006 (and the NIT in 2003). Despite that decent record, Orr was sacked after five seasons and replaced by Bobby Gonzalez. In two years, Gonzalez does not have a postseason trip under his belt, but an NIT bid is possible in 2009. If the Hall miss out on the NIT, which is more likely than not, Gonzalez might be writing for Collegehoops.net next year..
RUTGERS - Like Bobby Gonzalez above, Fred Hill has done little to quiet the skeptics. Gary Waters led Rutgers to three NIT trips, but like Orr, he was sacked after five years. Rutgers has finished below 200th in the RPI the previous two years (60 spots worse than any of Waters' teams), and has just six Big East wins combined. The Knights lost to in-state rivals Saint Peter's & Rider, and barely avoided an embarrassing loss to lowly Dartmouth. But hope seems to spring eternal at Rutgers, and fans are hoping highly rated freshmen Rosario and Echenique actually pan out.
MONMOUTH - Like NEC rival FDU, Monmouth is coming off a down season with just 7 wins and a 4-14 league record. But from 2001 to 2006, this was the NEC's best team with tourney trips in 01, 04, and 06.
RIDER - The Broncs set a record with 23 wins in 07-08, and advanced to the newly created CBI, losing to Old Dominion. Now that Jason Thompson has graduated, a more typical 10-8 type finish in the MAAC should be expected. Rider hasn't been to one of the long-time postseason tournaments since the 1998 NIT.
FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON - Veteran head coach Tom Green is still chugging along. Every few seasons, when you least expect it, FDU makes a serious run in the Northeast Conference. Last year, unfortunately, was not one of those good runs, as the Knights limped to a 4-14 league record (the 2nd worst in Green's 20+ year career). In 2005 FDU made the Tournament, which was followed up by the program's first NIT trip in 2006.
6. PRINCETON - Its amazing to think that Princeton dominated the Ivy League up until a few short seasons ago. The Tigers finished 331st in the RPI last year, the 2nd season in a row they finished at the bottom of the conference. Second-year coach Sydney Johnson will have a hard time cleaning up the mess left by Joe Scott.
7. SAINT PETER'S - Outside of Keydren Clark's legendary career which peaked from 2004-2006, Saint Peter's has been one of the country's worst programs in the last decade. The last two seasons have been particularly bad, with just 11 combined D1 wins (though they did beat Rutgers as noted above). Unfortunately, many expect SPC to finish near the bottom of the MAAC once again.
* NJ Tech is not included, as all provisionals were not included in the State of '08 articles.
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State of '08: The Introduction (& State list/links)