Study shows Duke is 'best' program in college basketball yet again

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Duke is best, according to one sort-of scientific evaluation of every program over the past decade. (Getty Images)

Caught this on The New York Times' The Quad blog today, and I wanted to give it another platform.

Basketball Times -- an old-school kind of publication, one your hoops-loving dad probably has a few old copies of hanging around in the basement -- released its latest version of the best program in college basketball. Jack Styczynski -- who posted on The Quad -- compiled the Basketball Times' most recent best-programs-in-the-country ranking. It's created by using only one base criterion for qualification: teams had to have won at least 66 percent of their games from the previous decade.

That means 33 teams (higher or lower than you would've guessed? I would've ballparked it closer to 40) qualified. From there, the teams had six other subsets of criteria assessed:

  • Overall winning percentage in the past 10 years
  • How many pros from a school are playing in the NBA as of this season
  • Coaching
  • "Perceived cleanliness" (?)
  • Academic reputation, per U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking (??)
  • Graduation rate (???)

Duke won the thing again, for the third consecutive assessment, meaning the past 20 years overall, Duke has had the best college basketball program in the sport, per Basketball Times.

Some of the odd criteria aside, I think that's actually the right call. Since 1992, Duke has more national titles than any other, and aside from a rogue year here or there, it has effortlessly been a top-tier team each season. Reputation, winning, the whole bag -- no program has had a steady hand like the Blue Devils. The closest argument is North Carolina, and lookie here, after Duke, the list shook out as such:

2. North Carolina
3. Gonzaga
4. Davidson
5. Wisconsin
6. Butler
7. Michigan State
8. Kansas
9. BYU (tie)
9. Creighton (tie)

Kentucky -- which I think is fairly objectively the most "powerful" program in 2012 in the sport -- is 19th. If you'd like to read the entire list or the article about it, this is a PDF link. It has the 1-to-33 list of each of the criteria (Kentucky, for example, leads the way with current pros at 21; Kansas has the best winning percentage; Butler is the "cleanest").

In the post linked above, Styczynski also took the time to talk to many of the game's most prominent coaches and got their opinions on the best programs in the country. Some were good at keeping the list short, while others, like a certain Big East beacon, said 20 schools qualify -- then didn't offer up his nominees.

 
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