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.
SYRACUSE - Led by one of the all-time great coaches, Syracuse has been a perennial power under Jim Boeheim. The Orange have missed the last two NCAA Tournaments, but should be back in 2009.
SIENA - Its been a good decade for Siena, with 3 NCAA Tournaments and 2 NIT trips. Last year, the Saints knocked off Vanderbilt in the opening round, and some pundits even think Fran McCaffery's crew has a chance to finish in the Top 25..
NIAGARA - With the exception of a poor 2006 campaign, Niagara has been very solid in the last decade. They've finished over .500 overall and in MAAC play in 9 of 10 seasons, and advanced to the Tournament in 2005 & 2007.
HOFSTRA - After the amazing job Jay Wright did at Hofstra around the turn of the century, Tom Pecora's tenure has been a bit more pedestrian (but still good for NY standards). The Pride did ride the shooting stroke of Loren Stokes to the 2007 NIT (their 3rd in a row), but were disappointing last year despite the return of Antoine Agudio.
MANHATTAN - Bobby Gonzalez led Manhattan to four postseason trips between 2002 and 2006. Barry Rohrssen hasn't been able to maintain that high standard, though this year's team has potential.
6. ST. JOHN'S - Once one of the game's top programs, St. John's still isn't close to getting out of the mess created by Mike Jarvis. The Storm haven't finished in the RPI Top 100 since 2003, and that futility should continue in 2009.
7. MARIST - Although the Red Foxes haven't had much success in the MAAC tournament the past three seasons, the team has been consistently dangerous and was invited to the 2007 NIT.
8. ALBANY - Unlike Binghamton and Stony Brook, who joined D1 and the AE around the same time, Albany has had some success in recent years. Will Brown, the Great Danes coach for pretty much their entire D1 existence, deserves credit for the job he's done. Brown led the team to the 2006 & 2007 NCAA Tournaments.
9. CORNELL - The Big Red have come a long way under Steve Donahue. When he took over in 2001, the program was one of the worst in the Ivy League. But their RPI has improved every season since 01 (from 311th to 65th in 08), and their Ivy League record has improved each season as well (though you can't top last year's perfect 14-0 run). Most expect Cornell to repeat as Ivy champs in 2009.
10. FORDHAM - Although Dereck Whittenburg has done a nice job getting Fordham back on track since taking over in 2003, there's still been no postseason trips and last year's team failed to meet lofty expectations.
11. WAGNER - With 23 wins last year, the Seahawks set a new record, although they missed out on the postseason. The program had accomplished little in the previous four seasons, unable to follow up on a good 02-03 run that culminated in a Tourney bid.
12. IONA - The Gaels have been all over the place in recent seasons. Great in 2006, with 23 wins and an NCAA bid. Horrendous in 2007 with just a 2-28 record. And then very mediocre last year.
13. BUFFALO - Long one of the country's worst programs, Buffalo is back to their losing ways after a rare winning spike from 2004 to 2006. In 2005, the Bulls were a few points from making their first NCAA Tournament in program history.
14. COLGATE - The Raiders are coming off their best season since 2002, an 18-win campaign that included two wins in the Patriot League tournament. 1996 was the last time they reached the conference finals.
15. BINGHAMTON - Less than a decade into their D1 existence, Bingamton is still looking for a breakthrough on the hardwood. 2nd year coach Kevin Broadus will be relying on a lot of transfers to push the Bearcats up the America East standings.
16. CANISIUS - 2001 was the last time Canisius was any good. 2009 should be another losing season, though fans are at least hopeful some of last year's young talent improves.
17. LIU - There hasn't been much to cheer about in the last decade as last year's 15 wins were the best in a decade. Since taking over in 2002, Jim Ferry's teams have won just one NEC Tournament game.
18. ST. FRANCIS - 2004 was the last time the Terriers were decent, and 2001 was the last time they were good. Last year was one of the worst in the program's history, with an RPI of 313 and a 4-14 NEC record.
19. ST. BONAVENTURE - Early in the decade, the Bonnies had a good run, until a string of poor choices, rules violations, and bad luck destroyed the program. Some progress has been made since the low of 2005 (2 wins), but Mark Schmidt and crew still have a long way to go.
20. COLUMBIA - I'm sure Columbia's good teams at some point in the past, but they were just before my time. Back to back 7-7 Ivy League seasons have been the peak of Joe Jones' five year tenure.
21. STONY BROOK - The Seawolves haven't won 10 games since 2005, and have never finished above 200th in the RPI. Most publications project a finish near the bottom of the AE in 2009.
22. ARMY - From 2003 to 2006, Army was not only the worst team in New York, but arguably the worst team in the country. They won just 11 D1 games in those four seasons, but have since returned to a more mediocre standard. Another sub-.500 season is a lock in 08-09.
Last: New Jersey - Next: North Carolina
State of '08: The Introduction (& State list/links)