Let’s talk about “tiers” in college basketball

Recently, this graphic came to my attention:

I don’t really know the source of the image, but I assume it originated from a message board. Most of these things do. Anyway, I have some thoughts about it:

  1. Graphic design is clearly not this person’s passion. This thing looks like garbage – “All-Time” and “College Basketball Tiers” are not centered appropriately, black-on-gray almost always looks sad, and the team logos remind me of going to SportsLogos.com in 2005 to look at old logos.
  2. While some tiers are pretty good, others are…questionable. If you know much about college basketball history, it’s hard to question Tier 1 at all. Those five programs are the winningest in college basketball history, and no one else really comes all that close. As crazy as it sounds, the weakest selection is UCLA, a team that’s won more national titles than everyone else but has a lower WP% than anyone else in this group of five. But Tier 2, which features a Georgetown program with one appearance past the Sweet Sixteen since 1996, and UConn, a team with four titles but almost no pre-1990 success…that’s problematic.
  3. I think it’s probably accurate on the whole but could be tweaked to be better. Also, I’m bored and still in the house.

So, with that in mind and with little else to do after my day job ends at home, I set off to form a more perfect list, with tiers still in the mix. There’s a few different ways to fix this image, but on the whole, it’s a good start; this is more about tweaks than wholesale change. Here’s my theoretical fixes to this theoretical image.

  1. More thoroughly define the “tiers” of teams. We won’t change the “blue bloods” tier, because it’s basically flawless. However, “great” needs a better definition. Do “great” programs get there on the strength of continuous success? Do they get there because of title runs that mask periods of inadequacy? The same goes for “good” and “solid”, which are very close to being the same thing. Here’s my proposal: Tier 2 turns into Mostly Great, Tier 3 is Occasionally Great, Mostly Good, Tier 4 Solid and Reliable, and so on.
  2. Make separate lists for high-major and mid-major programs. The original image starts to hit a bit of a mess when it ranks these two separate classes with vastly different resources beside each other. For instance, Iowa and Penn rank alongside each other as Tier 4 programs all-time. At a very specific brand of face value, it makes sense; Iowa’s been to 26 NCAA Tournaments in its history, Penn 24. Here’s the issue: one of these teams plays a much harder schedule. Iowa ranks 13th all-time in Sports Reference’s Simple Rating System; Penn ranks 134th. We can’t realistically mash these two teams against each other unless it actually makes sense to do so. An important qualifier: Gonzaga will rank as a high-major in the last five and last ten years lists, as will every AAC team. While the AAC isn’t quite on the level of the Big Six typically, it’s close enough that they’re above being a mid-major conference. Gonzaga, meanwhile, is a new-era blue-blood.
  3. Make an additional list for the last five years. That way, we have an all-time list, Ken Pomeroy’s 23-year list, and a reading of how programs look to recruits in 2020-21. While UConn may rate out as the 19th-best program on Pomeroy’s list, it’s much harder to make that argument when narrowed to the last five years, when recruits have actually paid attention to college basketball. The average recruit for the 2021-22 season would’ve been about 13 years old in 2015, and it’s hard to expect a then-seventh grader to be following college basketball all that closely beyond a loose understanding of who’s been good in March.

Without further ado, here’s our All-Time, Last Five Years, and Last Ten Years lists.

All-Time College Basketball Tiers (Big Six + select MMs)

  • Tier 1: Blue Bloods. Same as the original – Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and UCLA.
  • Tier 2: Mostly Great. These are teams that, for most of their history, have been yearly NCAA Tournament fixtures, finish in the AP Poll Top 25, and occasionally win a title. This tier contains ten teams: Indiana, Louisville, Michigan State, Villanova, Illinois, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Michigan, Syracuse, and Arizona. For the most part, these teams have routinely been March fixtures, making deep runs and winning a good amount of conference titles. Historically, Indiana has been closer to Tier 1 than Michigan State, but five years from now, that probably won’t be the case anymore. Cincinnati, of course, looks like a questionable pick. But think about it: in 24 of the last 29 years, they’ve made the NCAA Tournament. They’ve finished ranked in the AP Poll 15 times. They do own a pair of national titles in the early 1960s, and other than the 1980s, they’ve consistently won their conference or contended for it every year post-World War II. They’ve yet to go beyond the Elite Eight since 1992, but I’m not sure it really matters; they are basically always a threat.
  • Tier 3: Occasionally Great, Mostly Good. Teams that make the NCAA Tournament a good amount of the time and every now and then make deep runs, sometimes winning a title. However, their success is not as sustained as Tier 2, and there may be lengthy periods in their history where they were mediocre-to-bad. Along with this, their identity lies in consistently being good, not great. This is the largest tier, with 29 teams included: Purdue, Iowa, NC State, Notre Dame, Maryland, Oklahoma, Marquette, Wisconsin, Memphis, St. John’s, Tennessee, Kansas State, UNLV, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Utah, Florida, BYU, Arkansas, Providence, Alabama, West Virginia, Dayton, Gonzaga, Virginia, Georgetown, Temple, Connecticut, and Texas. (A reminder that these aren’t really in any specific order.) Collectively, these 28 teams own 12 of the national titles in the 35-year period of the 64/68-team field, which is a good chunk of the pie. However: those top five teams own the other 15. (Tier 2 has eight titles among its ten teams, or just under one per program.) The most controversial inclusion here will obviously be Connecticut, a team with four national championships since 1999. However: the program had two NCAA Tournament appearances between 1967 and 1990, didn’t make a Final Four until 1999, and has had lengthy periods in its history – one of which they’re currently in – where the program was irrelevant on a national scale.
  • Tier 4: Solid and Reliable. Rare is it that these programs are outright bad, but even rarer is it that they’re truly attention-grabbing. These programs largely have lived for being an 8 or 9 seed with the occasional Sweet Sixteen run. Seventeen teams are in this tier: Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Florida State, USC, Washington, California, Iowa State, UAB, DePaul, Houston, Xavier, LSU, VCU, Pittsburgh, Western Kentucky, Saint Joseph’s, and Texas Tech. Remember that these are all-time, not recent; from 1976 to 1992, DePaul made 14 of 17 NCAA Tournaments and finished in the AP top 10 seven different times. If you’re 55 or older, you likely remember a time when DePaul was legitimately one of the six or so best college basketball programs. The flipside goes for VCU: they have a higher WP% than most of the teams in Tier 3 and some in Tier 2…but they’ve finished ranked in the AP Poll three times ever and the 2011 Final Four run is the only time they’ve advanced past the Round of 32. Likewise, Texas Tech had never advanced past the Sweet Sixteen until they hired Chris Beard. At one point in time, Western Kentucky was a yearly top 15 program or so…but the last time they were ranked period was 2001-02. They’re never bad, but they haven’t gotten anything above a 16 seed since 2009. We’re still giving them the honorary nod.
  • Tier 5: The Murky Middle. Odds are that these teams suffer from one of the following: a mediocre all-time record; not a ton of NCAA Tournament appearances; few deep March runs; few conference titles. They exist in a weird middle range where they’re not openly bad and not very good. Chances are that these teams have some good stretches in their past, and they’ve had flashes of greatness, but they aren’t often a consistent March fixture. Fourteen teams are in this tier: Oregon State, Oregon, Nebraska, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Clemson, Colorado, Tulsa, Arizona State, South Carolina, Mississippi State, New Mexico, Seton Hall, Georgia, and Virginia Tech. Some of these teams have made a Final Four recently, and Oregon and South Carolina even made it in the same year. That’s nice! It also doesn’t excuse the fact that South Carolina has just two NCAA Tournament appearances since 1998 or that Oregon went from 1961 to 1995 without a single March appearance. (Phil Knight cures all, it seems.) Oregon State has made just one NCAA Tournament appearance since 1990, but for serious stretches of time (1975-1990, mostly), they hung around the top of the Pac-8 (and then Pac-10) yearly. In true Oregon State fashion, their 1980-81 and 1981-82 teams went a combined 51-7 but failed to make the Final Four both times. They haven’t won a Tournament game since, and odds are their brief 2016 Tournament appearance is the first time anyone under 30 has ever thought about Oregon State basketball. Seton Hall barely got in here, because despite being thoroughly mediocre from roughly 1957 to 1987, they do own a national title game appearance and have made several March appearances over the last three decades. The last truly great team they had was in 1992-93, though.
  • Tier 6: Baylor. They don’t really fit anywhere else, to be honest. It’s really hard to neatly find a spot for a team with seven 20+ loss seasons, multiple 20+ year NCAA Tournament droughts, and also two Elite Eight runs and a team that likely would’ve gotten a third this year. Historically, their lows have been lower than just about anyone in Tier 5…but so have the highs. We’ll punt.
  • Tier 7: Don’t Buy or Sell, It’s Crap. For the most part, these programs have a mediocre history and have won little of serious substance. Sometimes, one of these teams will pop up out of nowhere en route to a 3 seed and a self-immolation in the Sweet Sixteen. Seven teams go here: Miami, Boston College, Washington State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Penn State, and TCU.
  • Tier 8: Despair. This is the lowest of the low. These teams, for the most part, have never experienced serious success, and just making the Tournament feels like a heroic feat. Never mind actually winning a game! I get sad thinking about these programs. Five teams stand out here: Rutgers, Northwestern, South Florida, Southern Mississippi, and Tulane. Northwestern did make the NCAA Tournament in 2017, and Rutgers was well on track to do it in 2020. That being said…both schools would’ve been rapturously excited to be an 8 or 9 seed, because it would’ve been Rutgers’ first visit in nearly 30 years and it was Northwestern’s first visit ever. South Florida, Southern Miss, and Tulane are three mid-major programs with three post-1984 NCAA Tournament runs each, and it really feels like all three programs should be better…but they just aren’t. South Florida has lost fewer than 10 games in a season once in 47 seasons, Southern Miss’ only sustained success in my lifetime was immediately undone by Donnie Tyndall’s NCAA troubles, and Tulane hasn’t touched double-digit conference wins since 1997.

Okay! That was fun. Let’s now move on to the Last Five Years lists. Below are the same tiers, but simplified to the last five years only. The first list is high-majors + AAC + Gonzaga; the second list is mid-majors only.

The Last Five Years of College Basketball Tiers (Big Six, AAC, and Gonzaga)

  • Tier 1: The New-Age Blue Bloods. Hey, remember when the first list had an easy, widely-agreed-upon definition of Blue Bloods? That doesn’t exist right now. New powerhouses have risen up to become the best programs in college basketball. There’s a new top five program list in college basketball: Virginia, Kansas, Duke, Villanova, and Gonzaga. Four of the last five national titles belong to this group, and the teams without a recent title (Kansas and Gonzaga) have made at least three Elite Eights from 2015 onward. The most controversial exclusion(s?) from this list are covered in Tier Two.
  • Tier 2: Mostly Great. Same criteria: for the most part, these squads have been yearly NCAA Tournament fixtures, with half of them making a Final Four run and seven of the ten owning at least one Elite Eight visit. These ten programs are Michigan State, Kentucky, Purdue, North Carolina, Michigan, Louisville, West Virginia, Baylor, Cincinnati, and Texas Tech. A quick rebuttal to those who would like MSU and Kentucky in Tier 1: while the argument could exist, it’s hard to back it up statistically. Michigan State did make the Final Four in 2015 and 2019, but their 2016-2018 performances – Round of 64, Round of 32, Round of 32 – don’t measure up with those of the top five. Kentucky, meanwhile, hasn’t been to a Final Four since the 38-1 team and has slowly started to lose the edge they’d built in recruiting for years. They’re the class of the SEC, but the SEC hasn’t been one of the three best Big Six conferences since 2006-07, per KenPom. The Big East, a non-football conference with a significantly smaller budget than the SEC, is a clearly superior conference. Then again, those schools generally don’t make coaching hires as bad as the SEC’s.
  • Tier 3: Occasionally Great, Mostly Good. Teams that make the NCAA Tournament a good amount of the time and every now and then make deep runs, sometimes winning a title. Along with this, their identity lies in consistently being good, not great – the average team in this group has had one, maybe two top-4 seeds, but on the whole, they’ve not typically been one of the 16 best teams in the field. In a couple of cases, a team has made a deep run in the Tournament but has had a few down years otherwise. Tough selections were made in this one. Included in this group: Florida State, Oregon, Florida, Maryland, Xavier, Wisconsin, Houston, Wichita State, Creighton, Butler, Arizona, Seton Hall, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kansas State, Ohio State, and Auburn. The toughest selections were on both ends here: Florida State would have made it four straight NCAA Tournament bids this year, with three of those being top-4 seeds. They had a solid case for the Mostly Great tier. However: they haven’t topped 14th in KenPom in any of these seasons, and they started this parameter of time by missing the Tournament. They’re more good than great. Auburn, meanwhile, went 12-24 in SEC play over the first two years of our search. Objectively, they were bad, and it would’ve taken something heroic to even get them to touch this tier. The Final Four run in 2019 is just enough to push them into Tier 3; their 25-6 record this season belied them being the seventh-luckiest team in all of CBB. (Their “real” record would’ve translated to something like 22-9 and about 10-8…meaning with a less-unusual run of wins in coin-flip games, they could’ve been the sixth-best team in their own conference.)
  • Tier 4: Solid and Reliable. Rare is it that these programs are outright bad, but even rarer is it that they’re truly attention-grabbing. These programs largely have lived for being an 8 or 9 seed with the occasional Sweet Sixteen run. This tied for the largest group at 20 teams deep: Kansas State, Marquette, Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, Indiana, Clemson, Texas, Notre Dame, Iowa, Syracuse, Providence, TCU, Arkansas, SMU, UCLA, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, USC, and LSU. None of the top-end teams were serious threats to enter Tier 3, but LSU was a real threat to fall to Tier 5. They would’ve made the NCAA Tournament this year as an 8 or 9 seed, which would be fine…but their first three years of this run resulted in zero NCAAT runs and a 21-33 SEC record. Will Wade is a fantastic coach that will almost certainly get fired for something other than coaching, so I think they’ve done enough to rise into Tier 4. The team that statistically should be here but isn’t is South Carolina. The Gamecocks are a strange case: in the five years of this search, they never went worse than 7-11 in conference and did make the famous Final Four run in 2017. However: that’s their only NCAA Tournament run under Frank Martin, and it’s the only time they’ve ranked higher than 58th in KenPom under him. LSU has two seasons that are better, and even though their lows were much lower than South Carolina’s, they got the nod. South Carolina is solid and reliable, but not in terms of actually being a good Big Six program. One last note: SMU is the only mid-major in this tier, and it sounds ridiculous when you see their last three KenPom finishes: 84th, 107th, 88th. The first two years are what got them here: 16th in their tournament-banned 2015-16 (likely would’ve been a 5 or 6 seed) and 11th in 2016-17.
  • Tier 5: The Murky Middle. Odds are that these teams suffer from one of the following: a mediocre record; few NCAA Tournament appearances; fewer deep March runs; no conference titles. They exist in a weird middle range where they’re not openly bad and not very good. Like Tier 4, this group is 20 teams strong: South Carolina, NC State, Penn State, Alabama, Utah, Mississippi State, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona State, Georgia, Northwestern, Ole Miss, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Temple, Memphis, UConn, UCF, and Tulsa. A lot of AAC teams slid in at the end. They haven’t ranked as well on KenPom/Torvik, but their overall records were enough to get them in here as opposed to Tier 6. In particular, Tulsa and UConn were problematic cases: both have only been to one NCAA Tournament in the last six years, and neither would’ve made this year’s field. That said, Tulsa did post three 12+ win seasons in the AAC in our search and UConn had four Top 100 finishes. Outside of Tulsa’s 2016-17 and UConn’s 2017-18, neither has really had a truly forgettable season. I’ll allow it.
  • Tier 6: Don’t Buy or Sell, It’s Crap. Generally, this group has few wins of substance and has made no real noise in March. A few of these programs could reasonably be in Tier 5 but didn’t make it for various reasons: a season that tanked their overall stock, a lack of NCAA Tournament runs, or never doing particularly well in conference play. Eleven programs stand in Tier 6: Washington, Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, St. John’s (NY), Missouri, Oregon State, Rutgers, and California. Quick: do you remember that Cal actually started this five-year search by being a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament? Also, do you remember that it ended with a double-digit loss to a 13 seed? That’s the kind of stuff we’re looking at. Washington, in particular, had a good case for Tier 5: they’re objectively better at basketball than probably five of the teams up there. However, their awful 2016-17 season tanked their stock, and the fact they haven’t topped 48th in KenPom since 2010-11 really puts a limiting ceiling on how high they can go. They should break into Tier 5 with another top 60ish season in 2020-21; Torvik projects them 42nd. Among this tier, only Stanford (23rd!) and Rutgers (31st) project higher.
  • Tier 7: Despair. Making the Tournament would be a heroic feat for these programs. “Success” is not sustained at all, and is best represented by the occasional .500 record in conference play. Only six teams fell to Tier 7: DePaul, Boston College, Washington State, South Florida, Tulane, and East Carolina. None were serious contenders for Tier 6, and you could easily make the argument that the bottom three teams here are closer to a Tier 8 than a Tier 6. For now, they’re together. South Florida’s 2012 NCAA Tournament bid is the only NCAAT bid this decade among these six programs.

Lots of words! Now, the mid-majors.

The Last Five Years of College Basketball Tiers (Mid-Majors Only)

A quick reminder: Gonzaga cannot really be considered a mid-major anymore; they routinely post top 10 recruiting classes and have poured a ton of money into basketball. In fact, Gonzaga puts more money into their basketball program than half of the Big Six programs. They’re a high-major now. As such: this list includes everyone other than Gonzaga and the AAC.

  • Tier 1: The Mid-Major Blue Bloods. Every year, you can trust these teams to be right at the top of their conference. They’re a yearly NCAA Tournament fixture, and it’s expected for them to make some March noise. These are teams that have routinely graduated from the 13-16 seed treadmill. This group is five teams deep: Saint Mary’s, Dayton, San Diego State, Nevada, New Mexico State, and VCU. Every year, you expect to see these teams in March. While Dayton and San Diego State’s stars are inflated a bit by unusually great 2019-20 seasons, they’re still March regulars and have histories of legitimate success. New Mexico State is the toughest case. They have fewer losses than any other mid-major not named Gonzaga, and a 2019-20 bid would’ve represented their eight NCAA Tournament run in nine years. Despite them not winning a single game in any of those runs, they still get in by virtue of pure dominance of their conference. They’re 80-8 in the WAC since 2014-15. VCU got a real ‘benefit of the doubt’ nod here; they went 8-10 in the A-10 this year and ranked 144th in 2017-18, but all of their six NCAA Tournament bids from 2012-13 onward have been as a 10 seed or higher.
  • Tier 2: The 12-14 Seeds. Tough one to work on here. Some of these teams are more like 11 seeds when they make the Tournament, but they’re not consistent-enough fixtures to be in Tier 1. Generally, these teams are either consistently great in lower-tier conferences or consistently good in the upper echelon (A-10, MWC, WCC) of mid-major land. Not all of these teams make the Tournament every year, but out of this batch of names, you can expect to see several in your bracket yearly. Tough cuts were made here, but we still ended up with 23 teams: BYU, Rhode Island, Belmont, Vermont, Davidson, East Tennessee State, Buffalo, Yale, St. Bonaventure, Boise State, South Dakota State, Utah State, UNC Greensboro, Furman, UC Irvine, Loyola-Chicago, College of Charleston, Stephen F. Austin, Hofstra, Princeton, Akron, Murray State, and Old Dominion. This group was always going to be huge, simply because there’s a much bigger pool of teams to pick from. Belmont and Vermont had the best Tier 1 cases, as both are yearly March fixtures and routinely win their conference…but neither have the March wins to be a blue blood. It is what it is.
  • Tier 3: Good-Not-Greats. Wide swath here: maybe these are teams that are always the fourth-best team in the A-10. Maybe they’re pretty good in a weak conference. Maybe they’re just good in an average conference. Either way, there’s a lot of ’em. I think there’s 41 teams here: Fresno State, San Francisco, Winthrop, Northern Iowa, Harvard, Grand Canyon, Wright State, Montana, Louisiana Tech, Georgia State, UT-Arlington, Northern Kentucky, Wofford, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Valparaiso, UAB, Illinois State, Penn, Richmond, Southern Illinois, Toledo, Kent State, William & Mary, Liberty, Louisiana-Lafayette, Stony Brook, Northeastern, Marshall, Bucknell, North Dakota State, Hawaii, UC Santa Barbara, Monmouth, Eastern Washington, Lipscomb, Ball State, Oakland, Iona, Texas Southern, Texas State, and Merrimack. Exhaustingly long! Texas State barely slid in at the end – they’re 87-69, but have a pair of sub-.500 finishes in the Sun Belt. Still: three 20+ win seasons speak for themselves, and they should be pretty good again in 2020-21. Merrimack has all of one season of D-1 play to their name, but it was so good that I almost felt required to get them in at Tier 3.
  • Tier 4: “Fine.” Occasionally, one of these teams will have a great season and pop up in your bracket as a 13 seed, but for the most part, they operate outside of the NCAA Tournament. Nothing wrong with that! Generally, you can expect these teams to be consistently solid, and their range of outcomes are pretty easy to nail down. Lots of teams in this one, again: New Mexico, Saint Louis, UNLV, Georgia Southern, South Dakota, Radford, Ohio, Colorado State, George Mason, Cal State Bakersfield, North Florida, Chattanooga, Saint Joseph’s, Chattanooga, Duquesne, Sam Houston State, Weber State, Austin Peay, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Florida Gulf Coast, Green Bay, Rider, Northern Colorado, Colgate, Towson, Lehigh, Albany, St. Francis (PA), Jacksonville State, Boston University, North Carolina Central, Siena.
  • Tier 5: The Somewhat Murky Middle. These are more on the side of lower-tier A-10/WCC/MWC teams, mid-pack SoCon teams, and higher-end Southland squads. The list: Eastern Michigan, Nebraska-Omaha, Utah Valley, George Washington, Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount, Indiana State, Missouri State, Tennessee State, UNC Wilmington, Gardner-Webb, Abilene Christian, Northern Illinois, IPFW, UNC Asheville, Long Beach State, Seattle, Brown, Drake, Mercer, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Coastal Carolina, UC Davis, Nicholls State, North Dakota, North Texas, Wagner, UMBC, Portland State, Wyoming, Norfolk State, Navy, Hampton, Saint Peter’s, and Canisius.
  • Tier 6: Below-Average-ish. Sometimes, these teams make the NCAA Tournament, but generally, they aren’t very good. A couple of the teams in this grouping actually have conference titles to their name, but play in a bottom-three conference. Teams like: San Diego, Pacific, Evansville, Little Rock, La Salle, UMass, Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton, South Alabama, Louisiana Monroe, Lamar, NJIT, Arkansas State, Oral Roberts, New Orleans, High Point, Western Michigan, Morehead State, Prairie View A&M, Elon, UTEP, Delaware, Eastern Illinois, Fairfield, Tennessee-Martin, Campbell, Montana State, FIU, LIU Brooklyn, Fairleigh Dickinson, Army, Idaho, Robert Morris, Southern, Hartford, Illinois-Chicago, Mount St. Mary’s, and Sacred Heart.
  • Tier 7: Forgettable Squads. To be honest, I spend months, even years without remembering the existence of these squads. They’re not truly the lowest of the low, but seasons with serious success are very rare. UMKC, Columbia, Western Carolina, Air Force, Cornell, Miami (OH), UTSA, Eastern Kentucky, New Hampshire, Southern Miss, Rice, Troy, Tennessee Tech, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, Fordham, UT Rio Grande Valley, Samford, Southeastern Louisiana, Denver, Charleston Southern, Jacksonville, Appalachian State, IUPUI, Alcorn State, Milwaukee, Grambling State, Sacramento State, Dartmouth, Jackson State, Bethune-Cookman, James Madison, UMass Lowell, North Carolina A&T, Quinnipiac, American, Manhattan, Morgan State, and Loyola (MD). 
  • Tier 8: Basement. I feel bad, because no one should be given this designation; any of these teams can make the NCAA Tournament with a bit of March luck. That said, luck doesn’t seem very realistic for many of them. Dartmouth, Houston Baptist, Northwestern State, North Alabama, Western Illinois, Central Arkansas, Youngstown State, Cal State Northridge, McNeese State, Detroit, Portland, Idaho State, Incarnate Word, Drexel, UC Riverside, Holy Cross, South Carolina State, Southern Utah, Lafayette, Niagara, Citadel, St. Francis (NY), San Jose State, Cleveland State, Stetson, Cal Poly, Southeast Missouri State, Presbyterian, VMI, Kennesaw State, Binghamton, Alabama State, Florida A&M, USC Upstate, Northern Arizona, Bryant, SIU Edwardsville, Longwood, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Coppin State, Maryland Eastern Shore, Howard, Marist, Central Connecticut, Maine, Chicago State, Alabama A&M, Mississippi Valley State, and Delaware State. Apologies to all programs involved.

Hopefully, this gives us a better picture of both a long-term and short-term view of college basketball. If you were to extend the range to ten years for your search, I think it could produce somewhat different results, but you’re also theorizing that a current 18-year-old recruit was intently watching college basketball at 8-12 years old. (As someone who has loved basketball for most of my life, I didn’t start watching college basketball beyond occasional March games until age 10, and even that felt advanced.) This should provide a better, more reasonable view of how things look to the current recruiting class.