Sagarin/ESPN: IU No. 5 alltime

Indiana is the alltime No. 5 college basketball program in the country, according to Jeff Sagarin’s statistical formula in ESPN’s College Basketball Encyclopedia.

Sagarin, a resident of Bloomington, was asked to rank all 330 current Division I programs.

Kentucky is No. 1 by a longshot, followed by, in order, UCLA, Kansas, North Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, Duke, Purdue, Ohio State and Iowa.

Yes, that’s five Big Ten teams in the top 10. And Michigan (13), Minnesota (14) and Michigan State (15) are all in the top 20.

That’s because Sagarin’s ratings take into account years played, and count NCAA Tournament championships as much as a single first-round victory.

Sagarin also rated the top 40 in each decade. Indiana is consistently among the best, until you get to the 2000s — No. 31.

Here is’s Pat Forde’s take on the ratings, which include a link to the full list.


  1. Wins and losses can be deceiving. UK gets a lot of credit for those wins but you don’t see anything about point shaving, illegal recruiting and sanctions. If that’s the case you can argue Calipari could have had the greatest program of all time at Memphis given enough time and the pace they were on.

  2. I’m really not arguing Kentucky being #1, but it is worth noting that during much of Rupp and Joe B. Hall’s tenure, when they won the SEC about half the time, several schools in that conf. paid little to no attention to basketball. There are even a few examples of the football coach or A.D. also coaching basketball as a ‘side job.’ But at Kentucky, they took it very seriously, like the rest of the conf. did football. So their 41 SEC titles would likely be less if their conf. schools had taken basketball seriously as IU’s did, and Kansas’ and UCLA, etc.

  3. I tend to agree. While KY has remained relevant the win total is a joke. The SEC didn’t have black players until, I believe, around 1970. Winning the SEC before the ’70s was like winning an intramural league. Rupp’s are meaningless as they were against all white teams.

  4. Chet, you’re correct on the arrival of black players in the SEC. But, it’s also true that Rupp would go anywhere and play anyone, while many SEC schools would not play teams with black players (talk about being on the wrong side of history) when the conference was still segregated. So I wouldn’t say Rupp’s titles are meaningless, but they’re discounted quite a bit, in my opinion.

  5. I remember back in the ’60s Ole Miss (or Miss. State, I confuse them) got an NCAA bid but state law forbade them from even playing schools with black players. The coach smuggled them out of the state in the middle of the night to play the game. He was promptly fired. I’m guessing they leave that out of the media guide.
    I do do remember Ky’s first black player. Tom Payne, an otherwise forgettable 7 footer. The KY faithful were brutal to him.

  6. Yeah, Kaintuck being rated so high is a joke for the various reasons mentioned.

    Also, how is Moo U (Purdue) rated higher than MSU?

  7. Forde is normally the biggest homer this side of Lou Holtz, but here he seems to be right on. When you look at it strictly from the numbers, yeah, uk is probably number 1, but they also have about as many major violations as titles. The wins and SEC champions are a joke. All in all, i’d say Forde’s ranking are much more realistically accurate.

  8. He has his opinion of course but the (?) marks he creates about Ky. wins, the SEC titles with the NCAA violations and the ranking of Ill., Duke, PU, Ia. and Mich. St. are confounding and unending. He needs do more research and change some criteria to better mesh with history recently and of the past.

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