Certain areas of the country are stacked with college basketball talent, and often times, the collegiate programs that reside in those regions are the most successful.
It’s not surprising to see some states, like the North Carolinas and the Indianas of the world, on this list. Others might catch you off guard.
Based on the results from 2015-16 thus far, here are the five strongest college basketball states in the nation.
Top schools: North Carolina, Duke, UNCW, N.C. State
North Carolina is annually one of the top college basketball states in the nation, housing elite programs such as UNC and Duke. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils have experienced their ups and downs this season, but they’re still both ranked inside of the top 15 and recently played one of the most entertaining games we’ve seen in a while.But the basketball talent in the Tar Heel State doesn’t end with UNC and Duke, despite what its name may indicate. N.C. State is down this year but is still competitive in the ACC, arguably the best conference in college basketball. UNCW is having a heck of a season under head coach Kevin Keatts, who has the Seahawks sitting at 21-6 in the CAA. UNCW is 13-3 in league play this season and has a chance at an NCAA tournament berth if it carries that momentum into its conference tournament.
In the grand scheme of things, one could make a case that this is a down year for North Carolina. But not many states have two programs inside of the top 15 and solid squads surrounding them, which North Carolina does.
Top schools: Indiana, Notre Dame, Butler, Purdue, Valparaiso
Last season, the five schools listed above were all placed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA tournament. That’s a pretty good indication of how loaded Indiana is with basketball talent.
Two of these schools have been slightly better than they were last year to this point (Indiana, Purdue) while a couple have slipped just a tad (Notre Dame, Butler). Valparaiso, for its part, is rock solid once again. Those teams have a combined record of 104-35 this season.
And when these schools square off against one another, do yourself a favor and throw out the records and rankings. Because anything can happen.
Good luck finding a more talented group of teams or more passionate fan bases than those that reside in the Hoosier State.
Top schools: Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, SMU, Houston, Stephen F. Austin
Texas is an incredible college football state, but perhaps it’s time to start showing it some love on the hardwood.
Four teams (SMU, Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas) are all ranked inside of KenPom’s top 30, with the surprising Texas Tech Red Raiders coming in at No. 36. So while the Longhorn State doesn’t feature an elite attraction like Duke or North Carolina, its depth is undeniable.
When 21-5 Stephen F. Austin is the seventh-best team in your state, per KenPom, chances are you’re operating in an area lush with basketball ability.
Texas is precisely that.
Top schools: Villanova, St. Joe’s, Temple, Pittsburgh
The Big 5 isn’t what it used to be, but one thing is for sure: it’s no joke. Villanova and St. Joe’s are having outstanding seasons, and Temple has battled to a 17-10 overall record while playing in a tough AAC conference.
Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon has his Panthers playing solid ball in the western portion of of the state, sporting a 19-8 record and a winning mark in the rugged ACC. And despite Villanova’s tough loss against Xavier on Wednesday night, the Wildcats still have star-power that not many states can match. Pennsylvania has an elite team and quality depth surrounding it. A lot of states can’t say that.
Top schools: Xavier, Dayton, Cincinnati, Ohio State
Is it the year of the Musketeer? Xavier is 25-3 and just beat the No. 1 team in the country on Wednesday night, and it might have the most depth of any team in America. Xavier is king in Ohio right now, but the state features several other good programs.
Located just a few miles from the Musketeers are the Cincinnati Bearcats, who have amassed a 20-8 record and are ranked No. 28 in KenPom. Dayton has been scuffling a bit by its standards as of late, but the Flyers are 22-5 this season under promising young coach Archie Miller.
As if those three programs weren’t enough already, we haven’t even mentioned Ohio State yet. The Buckeyes are down this season, but they’ve consistently been one of the best programs in college basketball over the last decade, and the fact that Thad Matta has such a young group in NCAA tournament contention speaks volumes.