A recent Twitter showdown (or whatever it is that happens on Twitter) in which UC fans resorted to pulling out 60+ year old moth eaten banners as an argument got me to wondering: which is really the best program in the state? With respect to the MAC and Youngstown St, it really comes down to just four schools for consideration. Dayton, Xavier, UC, and Ohio State outstrip the rest of the Ohio pack without a great deal off difficulty. Based on overall resume, recent (last decade) success, and future outlook, here's how the top four basketball schools in Ohio rank.
#4- Dayton Flyers
Overall resume: One Final Four (1967), three Elite Eights, seven Sweet Sixteens, 16 NCAA appearances.
Recent success: Three appearances, one Sweet Sixteen, one Elite Eight. Two consecutive showings in the tournament.
Future outlook: Trending up. Archie Miller is a hot coaching commodity and their KenPom rating has risen from 101st in 2011 to 38th last year.
Overall: One Final Four appearance long before most of us were born doesn't carry much weight. That 23 team tournament was won by UCLA, who won everything back then. Since then, Dayton had one magic two years ago and very little else to show for themselves. They aren't a bad program, but they are clearly fourth of the top four.
#3- UC Bearcats
Overall resume: Two NCAA tournament championships (no modern era), six Final Fours (one modern era), eight Elite Eights (three modern era), ten Sweet Sixteens (five modern era), 29 overall appearances.
Recent success: Seven appearances, one Sweet Sixteen.
Future outlook: Stagnant. Mick Cronin is still the coach, and the team is moving down the conference ladder.
Overall: See all those "modern era" tags? Those are there because UC was the bully on the NCAA block when the NIT was the major tournament. Starting in the late 60s and surely by 1970, things had changed, but UC was out of the picture by 1963. So yes, they will point at banners, but those that are hanging now are the equivalent of today's NIT banners. Not so impressive anymore, is it? Since the NCAA tournament became the marquee postseason event, UC has made the Final Four once and not been anything close to being a national force. The gap between three and two on this list is large.
#2- Xavier Musketeers
Overall resume: Two Elite Eights, seven Sweet Sixteens, 26 overall appearances.
Recent success: Ten appearances, two Elite Eights, six Sweet Sixteens.
Future outlook: Trending up. Xavier is in the Big East now, has the one coach whose name appears at every major job opportunity, and is a roll of recent success.
Overall: The team with no modern era Final Fours beats the team with one because, right now, Xavier is the dominant program. Where UC has fallen off the radar recently and moved to an inferior conference, Xavier has moved to the Big East and missed the tournament exactly one time in the last decade, throwing in six Sweet Sixteens and two Elite Eights to go with all those appearances. When it comes to things that happened since the tournament has been televised, Xavier is the clear winner.
#1- OSU Buckeyes
Overall resume: One NCAA championship (1960), 11 Final Fours (four modern era), 15 Elite Eights (seven modern era), 15 Sweet Sixteens (12 modern era), 32 overall appearances.
Recent success: Nine appearances, two Final Fours, three Elite Eights, six Sweet Sixteens.
Future outlook: Massive school, massive conference, massive football money, very successful coach. OSU is going to be hard pressed not to remain top of the heap.
Overall: Xavier has a lot of recent success, but the Buckeyes have that and a massive weight of history behind them. Two Final Four appearances in the last decade carry a lot of weight over Xavier's equal amount of Sweet Sixteen appearances. I honestly thought this would be a bit closer, but it isn't. When you take into account the modern era and recent success, Ohio State is the premier program in the state. Xavier is eating into the advantage with every year, but there is still some way to go. The Buckeyes retain ownership over Ohio.