Monday, July 28, 2008

ESPN Prestige top 50

Last Friday, ESPN finished their list of the top 50 most prestigious college basketball programs since the NCAA tournament was changed to 64 teams. As much as I hate Duke, there is no way you can argue against them being #1. They have had 10 #1 seeds, 10 Final Fours, 3 National Titles, and 21 combined conference regular season and tournament championships in the past 23 years, all while maintaining a squeaky clean program.

In general, I think this is a pretty good list. The only major issue I had with the list was how high UNLV was rated. How can the most scandal-plagued program in college basketball be ranked in the top 10 of a prestige ranking? Maybe it is just me, but can a program really be considered "prestigious" when all of its success came while its coach faced numerous NCAA accusations, including recruiting violations, ineligible players, and the infamous photos showing three Runnin' Rebels in a hot tub with a convicted sports fixer. To me, for a program to be considered prestigious, they not only have to win, but win in the proper way (although, it is probably pretty likely that UNLV just happened to get caught, while others schools on this list didn't).

One of the reasons I've heard a lot of people discrediting this ranking is that some mid-major and low-major teams that are very successful get ranked ahead of average high-major teams. I guess it all depends on your personal definition or prestige, but personally, I feel it is more impressive to be a school like Murray State (30th), Penn (34th), Princeton (40th), or Gonzaga (26th), and dominate a conference for an extended period of time that it is to be a school like Wake Forest or Purdue, a middling power conference that's never made a Final Four. Fellow BIAH writer Ross pointed out that recruits almost always would rather play most schools in the big six conferences as opposed to a good mid-major team, but I don't think that indicates prestige. Isn't part of the reason you go to play at a Georgia Tech or a Villanova that you get to play against (and the chance to beat) the UNC's and the Duke's, the UConn's and the Georgetown's every year? Can the fact that you get to play another team really have an effect on your team's prestige? I don't think so.

Here is Andy Katz and Doug Gottlieb giving their opinions on the list.

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