State of '08: The Two-Program States
What is the top D1 basketball program in each state.. and which program is the worst? 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 state by state ranking 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 first today: The seven 2-program states.. followed by individual state articles. Note that 8 states have either one or no teams (Alaska). For more info, check out the State of '08 introduction.
TWO PROGRAM STATES
DELAWARE - The "First State" starts off our cross-country journey..
Delaware - The First State was one of the hardest to rank. While Delaware was a top mid-major program at the turn of the century.. the Hens hit some lean years culminating in an embarrassing 2007 (5 wins). But UDel edges out their counterpart in large part due to being in a far superior conference (CAA vs MEAC).
Delaware State - From 2005 to 2007, the Hornets were easily the better team.. making the Tourney in 2005 and winning 20 games in 2006. This was an amazing run considering how awful the team was earlier in the decade.
MONTANA - Did you even know Montana had two teams?
Montana - Despite having virtually the same success last year (232 RPI vs 236th), the Grizzlies get the nod here based on long-term success and overall statute. Montana made the big dance in 2005 & 2006.
Montana State - The last season that Montana State was significantly better than their rivals was in 2002.. yet Montana managed to sneak into the NCAA Tournament that year and steal State's thunder.
NEBRASKA - Score one for the "mid-majors"..
Creighton - A no-brainer here.. Creighton has been one of the top 40 programs or so over the last decade. Even last year, when it seemed like Dana Altman's crew were struggling, they still beat the Huskers by 12 and finished substantially higher in the computer rankings.
Nebraska - Nebraska is never awful.. but its also been awhile since they've been good. It always seems like they hover between 90-110 in the RPI.. completely mediocre for a BCS program. I don't see any major success on the horizon for the next few years either.
NEVADA - A virtual tie. (This was easily the hardest choice to make)
UNLV - Lon Kruger has done a great job getting this program back on track. Coming off back to back tournament trips, a third is definitely within reach as top players like Wink Adams return. UNLV also has the added benefit of being in a more challenging league (the MWC) and being located in Las Vegas, a nationally recognized (if not respected) city.
Nevada - Coming off four straight NCAA Tournament trips, Nevada had a disappointing season despite winning 20 games. But a recruiting class ranked Top 25 nationally has fans hoping for a return trip in 2009. While Nevada has had better success in the past five years, UNLV's past and projected future is brighter.
NEW HAMPSHIRE - Perhaps the worst basketball state in the union?
New Hampshire - UNH is simply a bad program, as the Wildcats have peaked with an RPI of 250 in the last decade. But UNH has at least been competitive in America East games recently.. winning 20 games in the past three seasons.
Dartmouth - One of the worst programs in the country, Dartmouth hasn't been above 250th in the RPI since 1999. The low was 2004 with an abysmal RPI of 324th (3rd worst in the country). In the last three years, the Big Green have won 11 Ivy League games.. which is so bad that it makes UNH look decent.
NEW MEXICO - Competition between these two programs is high now that NMSU is out of the doldrums.
New Mexico - While the numbers of these program are relatively similar since 2006, UNM gets the edge for long-term stability, for being in a higher-ranked conference ..and playing in a cool arena (The Pit).
New Mexico State - As recently as 2005, NMSU was one of the worst programs in the country. But moving to the WAC (and hiring Reggie Theus) helped lead to a shocking rebound that culminated in a 2007 conference title.
WEST VIRGINIA - WVU is easily the peak of the Mountain State..
West Virginia - Bob Huggins or not, WVU is a far superior program to Marshall making this a no-brainer. WVU has been Top 60 in the RPI each of the last four seasons..
Marshall - On the flip-side, Marshall hasn't approached the Top 100.. and its results haven't improved since moving from the MAC to the CUSA.