State of '08: The Three-Program States
What is the top D1 basketball program in each state.. and which program is the worst? 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 state by state ranking 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: The four 3-program states.. followed by individual state articles. Note that 8 states have either one or no teams (Alaska). For more info, check out the State of '08 introduction.
THREE PROGRAM STATES
ARIZONA - Is the gap closing between one and two?..
Arizona - Last year was one of the more disappointing seasons in Wildcat history.. and it only looks to get worse with Bayless going pro and Jennings taking a year abroad in Italy. Still, down years for Arizona are good years for almost any other program, and their RPI of 38th still dominated ASU's RPI of 83.
Arizona State - Herb Sendek is leading a resurgent ASU program that actually finished ahead of Arizona in the conference standings (9-9 to 8-10). Still, ASU was coming off a couple seasons in which they were arguably no better than Northern Arizona.
Northern Arizona - Had this ranking been done last summer, NAU would have given ASU a run for its money. In 06 & 07, NAU dominated the Sun Devils in the computer polls. Despite coming off another solid 19-win season, the Lumberjacks still have to be considered the third fiddle in the Sun State, though #1 in terms of quality of their Mascot.
IDAHO - The Gem State is void of any basketball gems.
Boise State - From 2005 to 2008, the Broncos RPI has improved each season, from 201st to 87th. The improvement culminated in a 24-win season and a surprising trip to the NCAA Tournament. For the standards of Idaho, that's pretty heady stuff.
Idaho State - Despite being in a lesser conference than Idaho (the Big Sky), the Bengals have still managed more success over the last handful of years. In fact, ISU has beaten their in-state rival the last four seasons,
Idaho - One of the saddest programs in the country, Idaho would be more competitive again NAIA competition. Despite an RPI of 299, it was actually Idaho's best season in a couple years as they won 5 games in the WAC.
KANSAS - Putting the Rock in Chalk since 1898..
Kansas - National champions. One of the all-time great programs.. not much to say here.
Kansas State* - Before Bob Huggins came along, KSU was the Nebraska of its state.. always hovering around 110 or so in the RPI, never horrendous but never good. Huggins lured some big names to Manhattan, and though he's long gone, the momentum has carried into the Frank Martin era. While K-State has been better than WSU the last two seasons, it was just their first tournament win in 20 years.
Wichita State* - Mark Turgeon did a great job turning a dormant program back into a winner. WSU won at least 20 games in 04-05-06, and made the Sweet Sixteen in the last of those good seasons. But Turgeon is now at Texas A&M, and it remains to be seen what Gregg Marshall can do in Wichita. Though an improvement over last season's dismal 11-win, 199 RPI season is a lock.. anything more than .500 in the MVC would be overachieving.
* These two programs have had very similar success in the past 5 years. KSU's average RPI is 85.4 to 87.8 for WSU, while WSU has averaged 18 wins to 17 for KSU. But K-State gets an edge for being in a tougher conference, with more respect on the recruiting trail, and for having more historical success.
RHODE ISLAND - The Lamar Odom State
- Since making the Big Dance in 2004, Providence has been going in the wrong
direction and Tim Welsh finally lost his job after a promising start. Still,
four postseason trips in
7 8** years still takes the cake in Rhode Island.
- URI topped Providence in
wins RPI*** for the first time since 1999 thanks to the
solid play of Will Daniels and Jimmy Baron. The 21 win season was a nice
accomplishment considering the Rams won just 6 games as recently as 2005.
Brown - Perennially, one of the worst teams out there.. Brown is coming off its best season since about the time I was in kindergarten. 19 wins and an 11-3 Ivy record is impressive, but it will take an epic run to move them out of last on this list.
State of '08: The 7 Two-Program States Delaware, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, West Virginia