State of '08: Iowa
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.
Up today: Iowa. For more info, check out the State of '08 introduction.
IOWA - It remains to be seen what type of success Todd Lickliter will have at Iowa, but this is still the state's premier program. From 2001 to 2006, Iowa made 6 straight postseason trips under Steve Alford, though fans were disappointed with just one NCAA Tourney win in that period. Certainly Drake was the state's top team last year, and UNI was the best the previous few seasons, but Iowa is consistently solid and has never had the lean years of its in-state rivals.
NORTHERN IOWA - Greg McDermott worked some magic at UNI, leading the Panthers to three straight tourneys from 2004 to 2006. But McDermott jumped ship for a bigger contract, and the program is still in transition under Ben Jacobson. He's managed to keep the ship afloat, going 18-18 in MVC games, but the future is a bit murky. UNI has also lost 4-straight games to rival Drake.
IOWA STATE - It took McDermott three years to turn around UNI, so Cyclones fans are hoping he can repeat that success in his 3rd season at ISU. It seems unlikely though that the Cyclones will sniff the postseason, as there's just not much talent on the roster. In the last seven years, Iowa State's made just one NCAA Tournament trip and has consistently finished in the bottom half of the Big 12. A lot is riding on this year's deep recruiting class.
DRAKE - The Bulldogs pulled off one of the all-time great turnaround seasons last year. In his first season, Keno Davis (is he a coaching genius or just lucky?) led Drake to a 28-5 record, the NCAA Tournament, a Top 10 RPI, and an MVC title. But this is a program that hadn't made the Big Dance since 1971, and hadn't finished above .500 in MVC play in the prior 22 seasons. Until the program proves last year wasn't just a fluke, they remain in the cellar.
Last: Indiana - Next: Kentucky
State of '08: The Introduction (& State list/links)