ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf recently released two articles about Division I college basketball across the country: one on the most challenging job in each state, and another on the best job in each state.
So, I thought it’d be cool to come up with the best mid-major program in all 50 states. Some states were easier to figure out than others, so if you have any disagreements just comment or tweet it to us (we already know you’ll tweet at us and destroy our mentions). Dont lie: you’ll have a problem with the list somewhere.
Alabama - UAB: No other mid-major program from Alabama comes close to UAB’s postseason numbers. The program has reached the NCAA Tournament 15 times.
Alaska - Alaska Anchorage: No Division I programs, but Alaska Anchorage would be the best if they made the move.
Arizona - Grand Canyon: Grand Canyon has had an impressive start in Division I. In four years, the Lopes have not finished below .500 and have had three winning seasons. Dan Majerle has himself a sleeping giant in Phoenix.
Arkansas - Little Rock: I give the edge here to Little Rock over Arkansas State. Arkansas State had a promising first year under Grant McCasland, however Little Rock upset Purdue in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and also historically has had great success.
California - San Diego State: This was a tough one. I love Randy Bennett and he has done a phenomenal job at Saint Mary’s, but I cannot turn my back on what Steve Fisher did at San Diego State. In his 17 seasons at the helm, he made eight NCAA Tournaments and compiled a record of 386-209.
Colorado - Colorado State: No other mid-major program in Colorado matches the Colorado State Rams in terms of recent or sustained success.
Connecticut - Yale: Yale has not had a losing season since 2010, and the Bulldogs also upset Baylor in the 2016 tournament. The Bulldogs should contend for the Ivy League title along with Harvard and Princeton next season.
Delaware - University of Delaware: The Blue Hens made the tournament back in 2014, but have struggled since. Fortunately, Delaware State is their only competitor within the state, and has had minimal success.
Florida - Florida Gulf Coast: Lets hear it for Dunk City! Florida Gulf Coast has only been a member of Division I for 10 years, and has only been a school since 1991. The Eagles have made the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons and are known for their Sweet 16 run as a 15 seed in 2013.
Georgia - Georgia State: Things get tricky here between Mercer and Georgia State. Both programs have recent success, finishing with winning records in three of their last four seasons, and both teams pulled off upsets in recent NCAA Tournaments. I’m going to with Ron Hunter.
Hawaii - University of Hawaii: The University of Hawaii wins by default as the only D-I program in the state. That said, the future is bright under head coach Eran Ganot.
Idaho - Boise State: Leon Rice has led the Broncos to two NCAA Tournaments in the past seven years.
Illinois - Illinois State: Illinois State was arguably the best team last year to not make the NCAA Tournament. The Redbirds dominated the non-Wichita State teams in the MVC, and beat the Shockers once in three tries.
Indiana - Valparaiso: Valparaiso has won more than 20 games in three straight seasons. With the departure of Alec Peters and a move to the MVC, things are about to get interesting. Will the Crusaders be able to sustain success in this new, uncharted territory?
Iowa - Northern Iowa: Northern Iowa may have had a down season this past year, but Ben Jacobson has brought back the national recognition that the program once had under Greg McDermott.
Kansas - No mid- majors. Come back Wichita State, we miss you dearly.
Kentucky - Western Kentucky: Murray State and Morehead State certainly have strong cases here. But one cannot ignore the potential Western Kentucky has next season. The recruiting job Rick Stansbury has done in an era where college basketball blue bloods dominate is unprecedented.
Louisiana - Louisiana: The school formerly known as Louisiana Lafayette gets the slight edge over Louisiana Tech. Louisiana Tech has strung together five consecutive 20-plus win seasons, but has failed to make an NCAA Tournament. Louisiana, on the other hand, has accomplished that over the past four seasons, plus made a trip to the dance.
Maine - Maine: Well, at least Maine has nice scenery. The basketball scene is not so pretty.
Maryland - Mount Saint Mary’s: This may turn some heads, but Mt. Saint Mary’s under Jamion Christian has been the top mid-major program in Maryland over the past few years, and it really isn’t close.
Massachusetts - Harvard: Tommy Amaker has found a way to bring in high-end recruits to Harvard and it has payed off.
Michigan - Oakland: Oakland gets the edge after finishing the past two seasons with more than 20 wins.
Minnesota: No mid-major programs, but the Gophers are OK I guess.
Mississippi - Southern Mississippi: Not too much mid-major success here, but Southern Mississippi had some good years before the NCAA caught up with them.
Missouri - Saint Louis: Saint Louis has a solid basketball history and head coach Travis Ford has some elite recruits coming in.
Montana - Montana: The Grizzlies are the leaders in this state, but rival Montana State is looking to close the gap.
Nebraska - Omaha: With five years of Division I experience, Omaha wins by default as the only mid-major out of Nebraska.
Nevada - UNLV: Nevada had a great season, but UNLV wins here with its four Final Four appearances and a national championship.
New Hampshire - University of New Hampshire: The Wildcats have seen some improvement recently and Dartmouth has struggled greatly.
New Jersey - Princeton: Maybe I am too hard on Monmouth, but as good as they were the past two seasons, they should have won the MAAC title. Princeton got the job done, winning the Ivy and almost upsetting Notre Dame this year. Princeton is the Garden State’s best mid-major for now.
New Mexico - New Mexico: I’ll go with New Mexico over New Mexico State. Both teams have had success, but New Mexico is in a considerably tougher conference.
New York - Iona: So many schools to pick from here, but I am going to go with Iona. The last time the Gaels won fewer than 20 games was eight years ago.
North Carolina - Davidson: Davidson is the most notable mid-major out of North Carolina, going back to Steph Curry’s Elite Eight run. But watch out for Wilmington and NC Central.
North Dakota - North Dakota State: The University of North Dakota is coming off of its first NCAA Tournament appearance, but North Dakota State gets the nod here as they have had more success, including their upset over Oklahoma in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Ohio - Dayton: The state has a few respectable mid-major programs, but no one comes close to Archie Miller’s success at Dayton. It will be interesting to see where the program goes without him.
Oklahoma - Oral Roberts: Oral Roberts wins as the only mid-major in the state.
Oregon - Portland: This one is difficult, as Portland and Portland State both have only made the NCAAs twice in school history. Portland wins this one as the Pilots sneaked into the AP top 25 briefly in 2010. Low bar, yes.
Pennsylvania - Saint Joseph’s: This is another difficult one. At one point or another, all of the Philly-area schools have enjoyed success. I am going to give St Joe’s the slight edge. Outside of the Philly schools, people usually forget about Robert Morris out of the NEC with Andy Toole leading the program to new heights.
Rhode Island - University of Rode Island: Danny Hurley is a phenomenal coach, and Brown and Bryant do not come anywhere close to Rhode Island’s level.
South Carolina - Winthrop: Once again, there are many schools to pick from here, but Winthrop has the most impressive history and finished 26-9 this past season.
South Dakota - South Dakota State: South Dakota had its best Division I season yet, and kudos to them. But South Dakota State is the better program, making the NCAA Tournament four out of the past six years.
Tennessee - Belmont: Many people may disagree with me here. Middle Tennessee has had two great seasons recently, but we cannot forget about Belmont! The Bruins have made the NCAA Tournament seven times in the past 11 years, and Rick Byrd has established consistency.
Texas - UTEP: UT Arlington was great last year and will be great again next season, and Stephen F. Austin has been a solid program recently. But UTEP has had many more NCAA tournament appearances than both programs, as well as their historic national championship team under Don Haskins back in 1966.
Utah - BYU : BYU is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the mid-majors in Utah. Not much else to say.
Vermont - Vermont: Here is my bold prediction for next year..... Vermont will make the Sweet 16.
Virginia - VCU: Ever since Shaka Smart led VCU to the Final Four, they have been a Top 25-caliber program on a consistent basis.
Washington - Gonzaga: Gonzaga. Obviously.
West Virginia - Marshall: Marshall is the only mid-major program in the state. Congrats to the D’Antonis.
Wisconsin - Green Bay: Green Bay gets the edge here over Milwaukee as the state’s best mid-major program. Settle it in Horizon League play!
Wyoming - Wyoming: Wyoming is the only Division I program in a state we are not convinced actually exists.