In a recent article for ESPN Insider, college basketball contributor John Gasaway explores the geographic trends in the NCAA tournament. Gasaway notes the shift in the Final Four makeup from 2021, when all teams were based west of the Mississippi, to the more recent trend of six out of the last eight teams being from east of the river. This observation leads Gasaway to rank all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on their success in the NCAA tournament since 1985.
Gasaway points out that starting the analysis in 1985 allows for a more balanced comparison, as it marks the beginning of the modern era and the expansion of the tournament field to 64 teams. This expansion eliminated the unbalanced brackets and allowed for a more equitable comparison of teams’ success in the tournament.
The article includes a ranking of the states and the District of Columbia based on their cumulative tournament wins since 1985. Gasaway notes that the top 10 states in the ranking are: North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, California, and New York. These states have been historically dominant in the tournament and have produced numerous successful college basketball programs.
Additionally, Gasaway highlights some of the interesting trends that emerge from the rankings. For example, North Carolina’s success is largely driven by the performances of the University of North Carolina and Duke University, which have a combined 187 tournament wins. Kentucky is another standout, with the University of Kentucky contributing significantly to the state’s success in the tournament.
Gasaway also notes the surprising success of some smaller states, such as Rhode Island and Nevada, which have outperformed larger states like Texas and Pennsylvania in terms of tournament wins. This suggests that success in college basketball is not solely determined by a state’s population or size.
Overall, Gasaway’s analysis provides valuable insight into the geographic trends in NCAA basketball success. The rankings offer a unique perspective on the historical performance of college basketball programs across different states and regions. By focusing on the tournament success since 1985, Gasaway’s analysis provides a comprehensive and balanced overview of the landscape of college basketball in the United States.
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