State of '08: South 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.
CLEMSON - Amazingly Clemson made the NCAA Tournament for just the first time in a decade, losing to Villanova in the opening round. The Tigers were an NIT team the previous three seasons, but have still trumped Winthrop in RPI in 6 of 8 seasons.
WINTHROP - The Eagles simply own the Big South right now. In Greg Marshall's ten-yea reign, Winthrop has made an amazing 8 NCAA Tournaments, and a 9th is possible in '09. In '07, Winthrop also knocked off Notre Dame in the tourney's First Round.
SOUTH CAROLINA - In Dave Odom's 7-year tenure, the Gamecocks were invited to one NCAA Tournament and 2 NITs. Former WKU Coach Darrin Horn was brought in to make the program more competitive in the SEC. Not since 1998 has USC finished over .500 in conference play.
CHARLESTON - For a long-time in the 90's up until a few years ago, Charleston was one of the top mid-major programs in the country. Ever since John Kresse retired, the Cougars have lost a little bit of their lustre and last year was the first time they finally finished below .500 in the Southern Conference.
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE - This is has long been one of the premier programs in the MEAC.. which isn't saying much because it is the MEAC. Since their last conference title in 2003, there has been some slippage however. Last year's 9-9 conference record was their worst in a decade, and RPIs of 290 & 284 in the past two years are anything but impressive.
6. FURMAN - In the previous six seasons, Furman was consistently a .500 team in the Southern Conference. But last year the bottom fell out and the Paladins struggled to a horrible 6-14 conference record, and an even worse 7-23 overall record. However, the team was young and most onlookers expect serious improvement in Jeff Jackson's third season.
7. COASTAL CAROLINA - In 2006, the Chanticleers were just a basket away from advancing to the Big Dance. This was an an aberration for a program that otherwise has been a middling to poor Big South team over the last 10 years.
8. WOFFORD - The Terriers have had similar overall success to Coastal Carolina above, hovering around winning 40 to 50% of their conference games on a yearly basis. Last season the team shocked Purdue on the road, and played Alabama very close as well.
9. CHARLESTON SOUTHERN - Other than two years of mediocrity in '05 & '06, this has been one of the worst programs in the country for quite some time. The Bucs have only won 10 D1 games the last 2 seasons, with an average RPI of 328th
10. THE CITADEL - Avoid being in last solely because there were two D1-newcomers in South Carolina last year. The Bulldogs haven't won 10 games since 2002, which was also the last season they finished above 290 in the RPI. Brutal stuff.
11. SOUTH CAROLINA UPSTATE - The Spartans beat six D1 teams in its initial season, including a decent Gardner-Webb squad. Upstate also has an advantage over Presbyterian due to their affiliation with the Atlantic Sun conference.
12. PRESBYTERIAN - Not much to say here. In the program's first full D1 season, the team went 2-25 (against D1 teams) with wins over Radford and Army.
Last: Pennsylvania - Next: Tennessee
State of '08: The Introduction (& State list/links)