|Kansas and Kansas State have led the way for Kansas to be the most successful state in college basketball. (espn.com)|
CBS Sports' Matt Norlander recently published a story examining the best college basketball state of the modern era. The answer may surprise you, but the argument is very much a sound one. This got me to thinking about what other great college basketball states are out there right now. This is not of all-time, but strictly this season. Only looking at the best three Div. I teams in the state (sorry Juco studs), we ranked the top five college basketball states of the 2012-13 basketball season to date. Agree with it? Thank you. Don't agree, let us know your top five.
No. 5 Florida
Florida could have been even higher on the list if Florida State would have been able to carry over the success of last season when they won the ACC Tournament. But the Seminoles have dropped off to a 10-7 record this season and can't seem to win the big games. FSU still has a meeting with Duke and two games against NC State to find a signature win. Miami has been a better surprise, working its way into the top 25 and at the top of the ACC at 4-0 (prior to the Hurricanes game against Duke Wednesday night). Still, the Florida Gators are the best of the state and a legitimate top-10 team who look to be the easy favorite to win the SEC.
State record: 37-12
No. 4 Kentucky
It still feels strange to say that the University of Kentucky is currently holding the state back in our rankings, but a defending national champion is not used to going 12-6 to start the following season. John Calipari has talent, but it's very young talent who still have a lot to learn. Louisville isn't helping matters either, dropping two straight in a talented Big East, but the Cardinals are still a Final Four contender. Murray State has also been down by last year's standards, starting 14-4. The Racers 5-1 in conference play and shouldn't lose too many more before the tournament. Last year the state of Kentucky was stronger with two Final Four teams and all three making the tournament and it should be expected for that level of play to return sooner than later. But right now the state is struggling, by it's standards, which still means two good team and a very good team.
State record: 42-13
No. 3 North Carolina
This state had by far the most potential at the start of the year. Where Kentucky had two teams who were expected to hang out in the top 10 all year, North Carolina could have potentially had three comfortably in the top 25. Duke lived up to its end as the No. 1 team, but North Carolina's youth and inexperience has made for a tougher path than expected. Roy's boys have rebounded with two straight ACC wins after starting conference play 0-2, but five losses at this point in the season is unfamiliar territory for the Tar Heels. NC State, while still in the top 25, already has four losses and have lost two of three after upsetting Duke. These are still three dangerous tournament teams, but two have a lot yet to accomplish.
State record: 43-10
No. 2 Indiana
Indiana is synonymous with basketball (enter Hoosier's reference here). But it's the mid-major (if you can even call them that) of the state is actually keeping this basketball powerhouse state ranked so high. Butler's 16-2 start and No. 9 ranking has them talked about the with best of college basketball. The Bulldogs already have wins over UNC, Indiana and most recently Gonzaga. The Hoosiers are one of the favorites to win the Big Ten, although the brutal conference schedule could hurt Indiana's record and ranking. Notre Dame's dismissal from the top 25 after losing three of four games is keeping Indiana from the No. 1 spot.
State record: 47-8
No. 1 Kansas
Kansas probably wouldn't have been your first guess, right? But the Sunflower State is playing basketball better than anyone. All three Div. I teams are ranked in the top 20 and are showing no signs of slowing down. Kansas has won 16 games in a row while K-State's only loss in the last nine game came at the hands of the Jayhawks Tuesday (this includes a neutral-site win over Florida). Wichita State knocked off Creighton last weekend and is making a claim for a Missouri Valley Conference title and is tied with Creighton for the conference lead. All three teams are practically no-brainers to make the NCAA Tournament and don't be surprised if one or more makes a deep run.
State record: 49-6