State of '08: Ohio
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.
OHIO STATE - While Xavier has had more consistent success since 2001, its hard to match Ohio State's 2007 campaign: Reaching the National Title game while finishing 1st in the RPI. OSU has also won 20 games in 8 of 10 seasons and reached 6 Big Dances.
XAVIER - Sean Miller has picked up where Thad Matta left off, and Matta followed the success of Skip Prosser, who continued the foundation set by Pete Gillen. Since 1986, there's been a continual run of impressive postseason success at Xavier, including 2 Elite Eight trips in the past 5 years.
KENT STATE - Pretty much whatever success you see at Kent State can still be attributed to the job Gary Waters did in the late 90's, turning a dormant program into a winner. In the last decade, the Golden Flashes have made 5 NCAA Tournaments and 4 NITs, and have won at least 20 games in each of those seasons. In 2009, Kent State is once again the projected MAC champ.
CINCINNATI - This is obviously a storied program, but the post-Huggins era has gotten off to a slow start. There hasn't been a tourney trip in the past three seasons, nor a finish above .500 in conference play. 2009 should be better, but the Big Dance will most likely have to wait another season.
DAYTON - After a hot start, Dayton stumbled to an 8-8 finish in A10 play, their third season in a row without a winning league record. From 2000-2005, Dayton won at least 9 league games every season, and made 3 NCAA Tournaments and 2 NITs.
6. MIAMI - The RedHawks have never been bad in Charlie Coles lengthy career. In fact, just one time in 11 seasons has his team failed to go at least .500 in the MAC. His last five teams have finished in the RPI Top 100, and this year's squad looks postseason-worthy once again.
7. AKRON - Keith Dambrot's four year tenure has been highly impressive. The Zips have been finished in the RPI Top 75 the past four seasons, consistently challenged for MAC titles, and advanced to two NITs. The team does lose a lot of talent this year, so it might be Dambrot's most challenging season.
8. OHIO - Ohio is a solid program that has never gone more than couple seasons here or there without contending for the MAC title. The Bobcats have won at least 18 games the past four seasons (including the '05 Big Dance), though the off-season departure of 8-year coach Tim O'Shea was puzzling.
9. WRIGHT STATE - We might be in thee midst of Wright State's best run in program history. Brad Brownell led the Raiders to the '07 Tournament in his first season, and followed that up with another 20+ win season last year. This year, WSU should once again contend for the Horizon League title.
10. TOLEDO - The Rockets haven't made the NCAA's since 1980, but it hasn't been all bad in the meantime. In 2001 & 2007, the Rockets won MAC regular season titles, but couldn't get over the conference tournament hump. Last year was disappointing, and new coach Gene Cross will need to elevate the program's overall talent-level.
11. CLEVELAND STATE - Twenty years after last making the postseason, the Vikings made the NIT in Gary Waters' second season. The Vikings won 10 league games and 20 overall games for the first time since 1993, and there's a legitimate shot they could earn their first Tourney trip since 1986.
12. BOWLING GREEN - Falcons basketball peaked in the 60's. The start of Dan Dakich's tenure, from about 99 to 02, looked promising.. but things went down hill. The last three years have featured sub-200 RPI teams, though the 2009 squad looks promising.
13. YOUNGSTOWN STATE - The Penguins basketball teams have never been able to match the football teams accomplishments. There are occasional hopeful seasons, but 2001 was the last time YSU really did any damage.
Last: North Carolina - Next: Oklahoma
State of '08: The Introduction (& State list/links)