New York Times sports blog writer Jack Styczynski recently came out with his rankings of the top college programs. Every five years, Basketball Times publishes an analytical ranking of the top men’s college basketball programs in the United States.
Only the teams that have won at least two-thirds of their games over the past 10 seasons qualify to be considered, and for the latest ranking, 33 programs made the cut.
The teams were then ranked using six equally weighted criteria: winning percentage, number of former players currently in the NBA, federal graduation rate, academic reputation as determined by U.S. News & World Report and coaching and perceived program “cleanliness” as ranked by a panel.
The results of the study are slightly surprising. The top two teams, Duke and University of North Carolina, are universally accepted as top programs, but 5 of the next 8 are interesting. Gonzaga, Davidson, Butler, BYU and Creighton all finished in the top 10 of Basketball Times’ rankings.
While not traditional powerhouses with storied histories of Final Four appearances, these schools have shown consistency in all aspects of success. What do these schools have in common? The same head coach, an influx of great players (credit to the coaches) and great academic institutions.
Normally we only care about wins and losses, strengths of schedule and dominant players when discussing great programs, but this analysis offers a fresh perspective. It is great to see programs being recognized for putting equal value into education as into athletic achievement. With the programs that focus on the “one and done” athlete for their success getting all the praise and publicity, it is awesome that someone can recognize those with their priorities in place: academics first, athletics second.