ESPN's number-crunchers decided to build a formula to rate and rank every Division 1 basketball based on their success over the past 50 years. Over the past few days, they have been slowly posting the top-50 programs to their College Basketball blog, reaching the top-20 schools this morning.
Villanova checked in at number-16, and scored 311 points under the ESPN system.
The 1985 basketball title helped immensely (worth 30 points), based on the point-system, as did generally strong regular season performances for much of the past half-century. The 2006 class managed to add 29 points to the program's total as well, despite the fact that they didn't make it to the NCAA's Final Four that season.
A weak stretch from 1989 until 2004, however, where the Wildcats failed to make an appearance in the Sweet 16 held the program back from rising any higher on the list. The last three seasons have also been poor for the 'Cats, accruing just 29 points.
According to ESPN, the program's best decade was the 1980s, where they ranked 14th among Division I programs based on this system.
The ESPN Bloggers also added their "50 in 50" starting five, of Villanova players from 1962 until the present. Paul Arizin wouldn't have qualified for the list, but most of your favorite Villanova notables were eligible. Scottie Reynolds made their list, but none of the players from the 2006 team that achieved a number-2 ranking and a top-seeding in the NCAA tournament were picked.
50 in 50 starting five (1962-present)
G – Scottie Reynolds (2006-10)
G – Kerry Kittles (1992-96)
F – Howard Porter (1967-71)
F – Ed Pinckney (1981-85)
C – John Pinone (1979-83)
Top options off the bench
Wali Jones (1962-64)
Keith Herron (1974-78)
Randy Foye (2002-06)
These rankings were based on a point system that was weighted as follows: 5 points for a conference regular-season title (including independents who finished ahead of two major-conference champions in an AP Poll); 3 points for winning a conference tournament; 2 points for a number-1 seed in the NCAA tournament; 1 point for being invited to the NCAA tournament and varying points from 1-25 awarded for each round of the tournament. NIT titles, First-team All-Americans, and NBA draft picks were also awarded points.
Instead of awarding points to 20-win or 30-win seasons, ESPN attempted to account for changes in schedule length and composition over the years by instead awarding points based on regular-season winning percentage. Teams were also docked points for NCAA violations like vacated seasons or certain NCAA sanctions.
Villanova's conference (including incoming Big East schools) and local rivals have been ranked as follows:
19. Memphis (Future BE)
22. Pennsylvania (tie)
29. Notre Dame
35. Houston (Future BE)
40. St. John's (tie)
40. St. Joseph's (tie)
50. Boston College
It is somewhat encouraging to see Big East additions like Memphis and Houston rating well, and even to see DePaul appearing. Meanwhile, in the early 1980s, who would have thought that Villanova would ever rate so many spots higher than a St. John's program that was a powerhouse?
ESPN had previously ranked Villanova 21st all-time in a ranking done in conjunction with Sagarin.
So, what do you think about the ranking? Is it fair? Do you agree with ESPN's starting five?