State of '08: North Carolina
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.
NORTH CAROLINA - In the past four years, UNC has won 3 ACC regular season titles, 2 conference tournaments, advanced to 2 Final Fours, and won a National Championship. Not bad.
DUKE - In most other states, Duke would be the run away top program.. but UNC happens to be in the middle of a nice run. Still, the Blue Devils have reached the Sweet Sixteen in 8 of the last 11 years.
DAVIDSON - Bob McKillop's teams have long dominated the Southern Conference. The Wildcats have finished 1st or 2nd in the conference in 12 of 13 seasons, including at least 10 league wins in those 12 years. But last year, the program reached another level by advancing to the Elite Eight.
WAKE FOREST - For obvious reasons, the past few seasons have been disappointing for the Wake community. But most fans are expecting a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005, and perhaps the Deacons' first Sweet Sixteen trip since 2004.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE - For whatever reasons, NC State was never satisfied with Herb Sendek even though he took over a program struggling under Les Robinson, and led them to five straight NCAA Tournaments from 2002 to 2006. Sidney Lowe will most likely end his 3rd season without a Tournament bid, though next year's recruiting haul is impressive.
6. CHARLOTTE - From 1995 to 2005, the 49ers made the Big Dance in 8 of 11 seasons. In the last three years since joining the A10, there's just been a pair of NIT selections. This year's team should once again be in the postseason mix.
7. UNC WILMINGTON - Ever since Jerry Wainright took over in 1995, UNCW has been one of the most consistent teams in the CAA. From 2000 to 2006, UNCW made 4 NCAA Tournaments. Third year coach Benny Moss will have to probably wait until at least 2010 for his first postseason trip.
8. APPALACHIAN STATE - Houston Fancher's 8 year tenure at App State has been solid, but he's still looking for that elusive NCAA Tournament appearance. In 2007, the Mountaineers did make the NIT after finishing the regular season with an RPI of 65.
9. UNC ASHEVILLE - Coming off one of the program's better seasons (19 D1 wins, and a conference finals trip), the Bulldogs should struggle once again in 2009. UNCA did make the Tourney in 2003, coming out of nowhere to win the Big South after a sub-par regular season.
10. UNC GREENSBORO - The Spartans knocked off Georgia Tech early last year on their way to a solid 19-win season. It was their best campaign since 2002, when they reached the NIT a year after losing to Stanford in the Big Dance.
11. HIGH POINT - Considering the program is barely a decade old at the D1 level, High Point's limited success is actually impressive. In both 06 & 07, the Panthers were a Top 200 RPI team, something that very few programs in the state can claim. 2009 should be the 4th season in a row with a finish of .500 or better in the Big South.
12. GARDNER-WEBB - The Bulldogs join the Big South this year, after less than a decade in the A-Sun. Except for a disappointing 2007 campaign, the program has actually been respectable recently.
13. ELON - 2006 was arguably the high-water mark in Elon history. The Phoenix shocked Clemson, and finished 10-4 in the Southern Conference. Last year, despite a mediocre regular season, Elon surprised many by reaching the conference title game.
14. EAST CAROLINA - While ECU has had some success on the football field, the hardcourt is another story. In the last two years, the Pirates have won just 12 D1 games and even lost to an NAIA squad last December.
15. WESTERN CAROLINA - In the last decade, WCU hasn't finished above .500 in the Southern Conference, and their top RPI finish is 230th.
16. CAMPBELL - The Camels lone NCAA Tournament came in 1992. The next one might be years away.. Campbell hasn't even reached .500 in the Atlantic Sun since 2000. There is at least some hope for respectability in 2009 thanks to star Jonathan Rodriguez.
17. NORTH CAROLINA A&T - From 03 to 06, A&T was one of the worst teams in the country. The team has at least been competitive in the MEAC the past two years, but its still the MEAC..
18. WINSTON-SALEM STATE - The Rams improved in their 2nd season at the top level, winning an impressive 11 D1 games. The team should be good enough in 2009 to perhaps knock off their first Top 200 team.
19. NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL - The Eagles transition to D1 started slowly with a 4-26 record last year.
Last: New York - Next: Ohio
State of '08: The Introduction (& State list/links)