Thursday, February 23, 2012

College hoops in California - irrelevant?

California is the most populous state in the nation. This is a state which produced John Wooden's great UCLA teams--a school which won 11 NCAA college basketball titles.

So, what gives with the current state of college hoops in California?

In the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, San Diego State is clocking in at 24--the only California school in the rankings. And, the Aztecs have lost three straight games, meaning they will likely drop out when the ratings are released early next week.

St. Mary's is in the coaches' poll but, like San Diego State, has faded of late.

UCLA is a shadow of its former self. The Bruins are 15-12, lost at St. Johns last Saturday, and play at Arizona State tomorrow night and at Arizona on Saturday. The three straight Final Fours under head coach Ben Howland are quickly fading in the rear view mirror.

Across town at USC, Kevin O'Neill has led the Trojans to a 1-13 record in Pac 12 conference play.

Further north, Cal is unranked but has a 22-6 record and will make the NCAA Tournament. Stanford is 18-9 but lost to Oregon last Sunday and journeys to Colorado tomorrow night.

There are bright spots in the state--Cal State Fullerton is 18-7 and 9-3 in the Big West. San Diego State, while on a skid, will still make the NCAA Tournament. And, Loyola Marymount is 17-10 and 10-4 in the West Coast Conference.

Long Beach State has a reputation for playing anybody and lost a two point heartbreaker at Creighton last weekend. They will likely need to win their conference tournament to make the Big Dance.

In total, the state of California leads the nation in mens basketball titles with 15. But, strip away UCLA's 11 and the last time a school from the state won it all was California in 1959.

Here's the list of NCAA champions, broken down by state:

California - 15
North Carolina - 11
Kentucky - 9
Indiana - 5
Connecticut, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio - 3
Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin - 2
Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, D.C. and Wyoming - 1

(Source: Los Angeles Times)

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