Or should I say they ranked it the ninth-worst basketball state?
I went down to Champaign-Urbana over the weekend to watch the Illinois-Iowa basketball game. Well, actually, I went down there to hang out with friends because the Illini aren't really worth anyone's time or money these days. It's like cheering for the damn Cubs.
Illinois (18-12, 8-9) did beat the lowly Hawkeyes Saturday, 81-68, but it was back to business as usual Tuesday night with a 75-67 loss to No. 6 Purdue. The Illini could have played that game 100 times and lost it all 100 times. Neither of the previous two Illinois games are worth much analysis. Regardless, I was too busy filling out my time card tonight to watch much of this Purdue loss.
But while I was downstate, I did pick up a complimentary copy of the Champaign News-Gazette at the hotel Sunday morning, and the Gazette's Bob Asmussen had a real interesting cover story. He researched the 345 Division I men's basketball programs in order to rank which states are producing the best basketball this season.
I looked around online, and unfortunately, it looks like the bottom 20 are the only ones available on the Web. Too bad I can't link to the full list.
I'm not going to list his entire ranking, but here are his top 10. Comments in parentheses are mine:
1. Indiana (Purdue and Notre Dame are ranked in the top 10 nationally.)
2. Kansas (Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State could all make the tournament.)
3. Ohio (I'd rank Ohio ahead of Kansas, with Ohio State, Xavier, Cleveland State and either Miami or Kent State likely to make the tournament.)
4. Pennsylvania (Pitt, Villanova and Temple are all solid.)
5. Kentucky (Will probably produce three tournament teams - Kentucky, Louisville and either Morehead State or Murray State out of the OVC.)
6. Tennessee (I'm not impressed with Vandy or Tennessee, but Asmussen points out that Belmont, ETSU and Lipscomb dominate the Atlantic Sun.)
7. Wisconsin (Wisconsin is Wisconsin and Marquette is making a late-season push.)
8. Missouri (Missouri and Missouri State are likely tourney teams.)
9. North Carolina (There are 18 D-I schools in the state. Duke and UNC are good. After that, there's a lot of bad hoops being played in Carolina.)
10. West Virginia (Both the state school and Marshall are having nice years.)
Hey, there's 13 schools in this state and not a single one of them is a lock to make the NCAA tournament. Asmussen notes that NIU, EIU, WIU, Chicago State and SIU-Edwardsville are some of the worst teams in the entire country. We've lamented the terrible college basketball in this state previously on this blog. This poor ranking is much deserved.
But hey, it could be worse. We could be Louisiana, the No. 50 state on the list. Asmussen has McNeese State listed as the best team in that state. Louisiana is also home to Centenary, which started the season 0-28 -- and got its first victory of the season last Thursday against Western Illinois.