Unless you've been under a rock all winter (or perhaps hibernating?), you're probably aware that things have been going pretty well for Iowa basketball this year -- both Iowa basketball teams. Despite dealing with a bevy of injuries and one of the most brutally difficult schedules in the country, Fran's force has put up a 19-9 overall record and 10-7 in that aforementioned brutally difficult Big Ten. Meanwhile, Bluder's bunch has been even better -- despite losing Megan Gustafson, the greatest player in the history of Iowa basketball, they've scarcely missed a beat this season, going 22-5 overall and 14-3 in the Big Ten. It is, in other words, a very good time to be a fan of Iowa hoopyball.
But Iowa is also not the only team having good seasons in men's and women's basketball -- in fact there are several other teams having excellent seasons in both. So let's rank 'em! ESPN provided their own rankings in this area a couple weeks ago, but I haven't seen them update those rankings since then. Schools are ranked by the average of their rankings in the AP men's and women's polls.
1) BAYLOR (avg 2) MBB: #2, 24-2 ovr, 14-1 Big 12 | WBB: #2, 25-1 ovr, 15-0 Big 12
It's a heck of a time to be a Baylor basketball fan. They're the defending national champions on the women's side of things -- and very well-positioned to win a second straight national title. The men are equally well-positioned to win their first-ever national title. They've been one of the top teams in the men's game all year and spent the last several weeks at #1 before narrowly losing to then-#2 Kansas last weekend. The only DI school to ever win men's and women's national championships in the same year is UConn -- who's done it twice, in 2004 and 2014. Baylor has a real shot to join that club this season.
2) GONZAGA (avg 7) MBB: #3, 27-2 ovr, 14-1 WCC | WBB: #11, 27-2 ovr, 16-1 WCC
Gonzaga has been quietly dominating things over on the West Coast, too. The men's team has maintained their increasingly routine dominance, even if they did suffer a surprising upset loss at BYU that ended their 19-game winning streak this season, as well as a 40-game win streak against WCC foes. Gonzaga made the national title game a few years ago; they look poised to earn another #1 seed again this year and could be back in the Final Four come April. The women's team probably doesn't have a ceiling quite that high -- they're currently projected as a #4 seed by ESPN -- but they're still having an outstanding year. Gonzaga's 54 combined wins is more than the combined total for any other men's and women's programs.
3) MARYLAND (avg 8) MBB: #9, 23-5 ovr, 13-4 B1G | WBB: #7, 24-4 ovr, 15-2 B1G
Turtle power! By average ranking, Gonzaga is ahead of Maryland -- but the Terrapins probably have a better shot at having both teams make deep runs in their respective NCAA Tournaments and contend for championships. The Maryland men are currently projected as #2 seed by ESPN, while the women are projected as a #1 seed. They should each have a tremendous shot to make their respective Final Fours. The Maryland women's team has rebounded after a few early hiccups; after opening league play at 2-2, they've rattled off 13 straight wins to retake control of the conference. The men's team had their own impressive winning streak -- nine straight league wins before losing at Ohio State last weekend. At their best these two teams look like two of the best in the country.
4) LOUISVILLE (avg 8): MBB: #11, 23-6 ovr, 14-4 ACC | WBB: #5, 26-3 ovr, 15-2 ACC
Louisville and Maryland are tied on average, with Louisville having a higher-ranked women's team and Maryland having a higher-ranked men's team; Maryland having both teams in the Top 10 seemed like a reasonable tiebreaker. Also, their bracket projections are more favorable; ESPN has the Louisville men as a #4 seed and the women as a #2 seed. The Louisville men are trying to rebound from a come-from-ahead loss to Florida State that handed the 'Noles control of the ACC regular season title race, but they're still having a very good year. The women, meanwhile, have been mowing through the ACC. They had a 10-game ACC win streak (13 games overall) snapped by a pair of losses against Florida State and Suracuse, but have since rebounded with five straight wins. Both these teams look set to make noise in March.
5) OREGON (avg 8.5) MBB: 22-7 ovr, 11-5 P12 | WBB: #3, 26-2 ovr, 15-1 P12
Most of the higher-ranked teams on this list have featured pretty impressive balance between the men's and women's teams; the next few teams are a bit more imbalanced, with one excellent team picking up some of the slack for another team that's merely really good. So it is with Oregon where the men are having a good season -- 22-7 overall, tied atop the Pac 12 standings at 11-5, projected to a #4 seed by ESPN -- but the women are having an outstanding season. Led by runaway Player of the Year favorite Sabrina Ionescu, the Ducks are steamrolling teams, including six wins over Top 10-ranked opponents, including an 18-point drubbing of UConn in UConn. The Ducks are projected as #1 seed and they're going to be a brutally difficult out in the NCAA Tournament.
6) KENTUCKY (avg 11.5): MBB: #8, 23-5 ovr, 13-2 SEC | WBB: #15, 21-6 ovr, 10-5 SEC
Kentucky lost back-to-back games to Utah and Ohio State in December and there was (mild) panic in the streets in Big Blue Nation. Since then, though, the Wildcats are 15-2 (including a current 7-game winning streak) with a win over then-#3 Louisville. They've firmly taken control of the SEC (as usual) and they're currently projected as a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament by ESPN. You're already pondering the Wildcats in your Final Four (again). The women's team is also cruising along with a strong season, although it's hit a few more speed bumps in the very difficult SEC (after going 11-1 in non-league action, the Wildcats are only 10-5 against SEC foes). Kentucky is slotted for a #6 seed in the NCAA Tournament by ESPN, which could make it a challenge to reach the Sweet 16, but it's still been a solid year.
7) FLORIDA ST (avg 12.5): MBB: #6, 24-4 ovr, 14-3 ACC | WBB: #19, 22-6 ovr, 11-6 ACC
Wait -- the Florida State men's basketball team is ranked #6 in the country? It's true! The 'Noles have been (mostly) excellent this year, aside from hiccups against Pitt (?!) and Indiana. (They also lost on the road to Virginia and Duke, but there's not too much shame in that.) Their season sweep of Louisville gives them the inside track to their first-ever ACC regular season championship and they're currently projected as a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament by ESPN. Good times for the 'Noles. The women's team also has a win over Louisville, but losses to Syracuse, Boston College, Duke, and Georgia Tech have dropped them out of the conference title race. They're projected for a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, though, which would give them decent odds of making the Sweet 16.
8) IOWA (avg 18) MBB: #18, 19-9 ovr, 10-7 B1G | WBB: #18, 23-5 ovr, 14-3 B1G
Hey, that's us! We already covered the Hawkeyes at the beginning of this post, so I'm not going to belabor the point, but Iowa is having a very nice year when it comes to hoops. There are only eight teams that are ranked in men's and women's basketball at this point in the season -- Iowa is one of them. That's pretty cool.
9) ARIZONA ST (avg "25") MBB: #26, 19-9 ovr, 10-5 P12 | WBB: # 24, 19-9 ovr, 9-7 P12
The Sun Devils aren't technically ranked in both AP polls, but they're very, very close. The ASU women are ranked #24, while the men are tops in the "others receiving votes" category, or the unofficial #26 spot. Good enough for me! The men's team is in the thick of the hunt for a Pac 12 title in a wild season; six teams are within at least two games of the league lead. ASU will need to keep winning, though, because they're not too far from the scary parts of the bubble -- ESPN projects them as a #9 seed right now. The women are well out of Pac 12 title race (six games back of Oregon), but they're on pace for 20+ wins and a possible #6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That'd be a pretty solid season.
10) DAYTON (avg n/a) MBB: #4, 26-2 ovr, 15-0 A10 | WBB: unr, 21-8 ovr, 14-1 A10
The Flyers don't quite qualify for this ranking either, since the women's team isn't ranked by the AP (or even receiving votes)... but they're still having a good season. They're 21-8 overall, but they've really excelled in Atlantic 10 play, with a 14-1 mark in league action. In fact, overall the Dayton men's and women's teams are 29-1 against A10 opponents; only Baylor can match that level of intra-conference domination this season. The men are having their greatest season ever and are projected for a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, while the women are slotted for a #12 seed in the NCAA Tournament -- and will need to win their conference tournament to make sure they make the Big Dance. But it's still been a hell of a ride (flight?) for the Flyers in basketball this season, especially during conference play.
Those are the teams that are having great seasons in both men's and women's basketball this year. But which team is having the biggest disparity between their men's and women's teams? It's gotta be a pair of teams we're pretty familiar with -- Penn State and Northwestern.
Penn State is having one of their best-ever seasons in men's basketball -- they're 21-7 overall, 11-6 in the Big Ten and in line for a #4 seed, per ESPN. This looks like the year Penn State finally returns to the NCAA Tournament -- and they could definitely make some noise when they get there. The women's team, on the other hand, is having a season to forget... like, immediately. Penn State is 7-21 overall and 1-16 in Big Ten action, with a current 13-game losing streak. The sooner their season is over, the better.
Meanwhile, Northwestern is experiencing pretty much the same thing -- just with the teams reversed. The Wildcat women are having an incredible year -- 25-3 overall, 15-2 in the Big Ten (where they're co-leaders with Maryland and just a win over 2-16 Illinois from earning a share of the Big Ten regular season title) and projected for a #2 seed by ESPN. They don't want this season to ever end. The end can't come soon enough for the Northwestern men, though. They're 6-21 overall and 1-16 in the Big Ten, with a current 12-game losing streak. That NCAA Tournament appearances seems a long, long, long time ago.
And, finally, if we're going to celebrate the best of the best in these combined rankings, let's give a shout-out to the worst of the worst, too. Some teams haven't had much joy at all when it comes to basketball this year.
Among power conference teams, I think Vanderbilt has been the worst of the lot in men's and women's hoops. The men's team is 9-19 overall and 1-14 in the SEC (dead last), while the women's team is 13-14 overall and 3-11 in the SEC (12th out of 14). The men have a NET ranking of 153, while the women have an RPI of 120. (I know NET and RPI aren't directly comparable, but they're the best we've got at the moment.) That's pretty rough.
Other contenders? Ole Miss is 13-15 overall in men's basketball and 4-11 in the SEC (12th out of 14) and 7-20 overall in men's basketball and (gulp) 0-14 in women's basketball. The men have a NET ranking of 94 and the women have an RPI of 290 (!). Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have their one and only meeting in men's basketball tomorrow in Mississippi; loser of that gets to wear the "worst of the worst" crown?
Shout-out to Pitt and Nebraska as well. The Pitt men's team is 15-14 overall and 6-12 in the ACC (13th out of 15), while the women's team is 4-23 overall and 1-15 in the ACC (15th out of 15). That's pretty woeful. And Nebraska's men team is 7-20 overall and 2-14 in the Big Ten (13th out of 14), while the women's team is 17-11 overall and 7-10 in the Big Ten (10th out of 14). The women's team seems unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament, but they've at least been broadly competent this season.
Shout-out to Saint Joseph's as well. Among the power/high major conferences, no one's had a lousier year of basketball than the Hawks. The men's team is 5-23 overall and 1-14 in A10 action, while the women's team is 9-18 overall and 3-12 in A10 action. Both squads are dead last in their conference (that tends to happen when you've combined for four wins over 30 games). That is a miserable year on the hardcourt.
But the real worst of the worst can only be found in the low majors. The bottom 5:
1) Mississippi Valley State
MBB: 2-25 ovr, 2-13 SWAC (NET: 351), WBB: 2-24 ovr, 1-14 SWAC (RPI: 351)
2) Chicago State
MBB: 4-24 ovr, 0-13 WAC (NET: 353), WBB: 1-25 ovr, 1-12 WAC (RPI: 347)
3) Central Connecticut State
MBB: 4-25 ovr, 3-13 Northeast (NET: 348), WBB: 2-24 ovr, 1-14 Northeast (RPI: 348)
4) SIU Edwardsville
MBB: 7-22 ovr, 4-12 Ohio Valley (NET: 337), WBB: 3-24 ovr, 1-15 OVC (RPI: 340)
5) Maryland Eastern Shore
MBB: 5-23 ovr, 4-9 MEAC (NET: 346), WBB: 5-21 ovr, 2-11 MEAC (RPI: 325)
This is just an epic amount of bad basketball. (On top of the dismal records and dire NET/RPI rankings, Mississippi Valley State also earns bonus demerits for having their women's team use the "Delta Devilettes" nickname. Come on now.)
Incredibly, there's one team in all of D1 basketball that has not won a game in either men's or women's basketball this season -- the Evansville Purple Aces. Evansville's men's team is 9-21 overall and 0-17 in league play, while the women's team is 3-23 overall and 0-15 in league action. So why didn't they make that top (bottom) 5 ranking? Because despite that intra-conference futility, Evansville is just 256 in NET and 321 in RPI. They haven't been able to find league wins primarily because the Missouri Valley is a pretty stout conference. By contrast, teams like MVSU, Chicago State, Central Connecticut State, SIU-Edwardsville, and Maryland Eastern Shore are struggling in some of the worst leagues in America (SWAC, MEAC, WAC).
The good news for all of those teams? The season is just a few more games from being over.