This week, my colleague Pat Forde made his selections for college basketball's most noteworthy underachieving and overachieving programs. I thought that was a great idea. In fact, it's such a good idea that I've decided to steal it -- kind of. I've been crunching some numbers to see which programs emerge as being way better -- or worse -- than they should be.
Obviously, defining exactly how good a team is supposed to be is a highly subjective endeavor, one that quite rightly drives coaches crazy. So I want to spell out my criteria at the top. The first of many arbitrary lines that I drew was on the calendar: I decided to look at college basketball since 2000. Naming the biggest under- and overachieving programs of all time would be an interesting challenge, surely, but for now I want to limit our efforts to the more recent past.
Second, I had to call out exactly which factors should, in the abstract, help a program achieve success. I decided that some of the biggest factors underlying potential success are: (1) conference affiliation, specifically, whether you're in a major conference, (2) your location and the proximity and number of competing programs, and (3) the number of elite (i.e., top-100) high school recruits whom your area and your state have produced in recent years.
Oh, and one more thing. I had to define "success." For the purposes of this exercise, I defined success as the number of NCAA tournament games that a program has won in the 2000s. Using this metric, no program has been more successful than Duke this millennium. The Blue Devils have won 31 NCAA tournament games since 2000. Kansas (30), Michigan State (29) and North Carolina (29) are right on the heels of Mike Krzyzewski's team.
So much for definitions. Now it's time to look at results. The winner -- the biggest numerical overachiever of the 2000s -- is none other than the Kansas Jayhawks.