State of '08: Mississippi
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.
MISSISSIPPI STATE - MSU returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first since 2005, when they made 4 trips in a row. This year though, both Ole Miss and Southern Miss could/should be better teams.
OLE MISS - The Rebels don't have the best history when it comes to basketball. Outside of 2001's surprising Sweet Sixteen run, NCAA Tournament wins have been extremely rare. But the last two seasons have been solid under Andy Kennedy (despite last year's post 13-0 collapse), and a Tourney trip would not be a surprise in 2009.
SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI - Many expected a swift turnaround under Larry Eustachy, but he enters his fifth season at USM without a postseason trip. While 19 & 20 wins looks impressive each of the last two years, the win totals have been padded with joke non-conference wins against DII teams and SWAC opponents.
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE - They've met Jackson State in the SWAC finals the last two seasons, splitting the Tourney bids. MVSU was unfortunate to face UCLA in the first round, losing 70-29, and shooting just 19% from the field.. the lowest Tournament output in over 20 years. Still, MVSU hasn't finished below .500 in SWAC play since 2000.
JACKSON STATE - JSU is coming off two solid seasons. In 2007, they made the Big Dance, knocking off legit non-conference foes (a rarity for the SWAC) like UTEP, Rutgers, and UIC. Last year they were one basket away from a return trip.. losing to in-state rival MVSU. The Tigers should once again be in the running for the conference title in 2009.
6. ALCORN STATE - It wasn't that long ago that Alcorn was one of the better teams in the SWAC, making the Big Dance in 99 & 02 for example with consistent top of the table finishes. But the last four years have been brutal, with sub-300 RPIs. The Braves haven't won a non-conference game against a D1 team since December 2004.
Last: Michigan - Next: Missouri
State of '08: The Introduction (& State list/links)