Louisville is the 4th Best Men’s Basketball/Football Program Over the Last 20 Years

Photo: GoCards.com
Photo: GoCards.com

Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com posted an article on Thursday that was very interesting to read. He did research and came up with what programs have been the most successful in men’s basketball and football (combined) over the last 20 years. He calls that the “modern era” because “achievements in the 1940s, ’60s, and ’80s don’t bear much relevance today.” So this study begins in the 1995-96 season. The Louisville Cardinals rounded out the list at #4. Pretty impressive.

I will let him explain the criteria and how he came up with the top 4 teams:

I looked at four categories for both college basketball and college football. The hoops criteria are: total win percentage, regular-season titles, NCAA Tournament appearances and Final Four appearances. For football, the first two are the same as hoops, and I included total bowl games and national championship-game appearances. While winning a title is tangible achievement, to widen the pool of candidates, I included all programs who made the ultimate stage in each sport. (And really, making a Final Four or a title game in football is symbolic enough of an epic season.)

I created demarcation lines in each category that fundamentally and logistically worked as a cut-off. I include the top 15 win percentages in each sport. Because there are more games involved, I lowered the number of regular-season division titles in college hoops to five, while going with six in football — because there are more shared titles among teams. With more and more bowl games, I decided if you made four in five seasons — going to 16 of 20 — that would signal top-tier status in that grouping. The same goes for NCAA Tournament appearances, which included 18 schools that have made 13 or more dances since 1995-96.

I also chose multiple categories instead of purely combining win percentage because big-time schools can schedule down and inflate records. By working in postseason success and regular-season titles, you get a clearer vision of which programs have achieved the most over a score of years.

The findings

Only four colleges earned at least one mention in the four categories apiece for football and basketball.

Florida Gators

The only school to qualify in all eight categories: The Florida. The Gators have nine regular-season conference titles, have reached 19 bowl games, been in four national championships and won 74 percent of their games since 1995. This is the runaway winner, the undisputed champion of both sports. Billy Donovan has guided the way in hoops, while Florida’s been able to remain good despite two coaching whiffs in Ron Zook and Will Muschamp.

Wisconsin Badgers

The school who could claim to be No. 2 in this? How about Wisconsin— not Ohio State. The Badgers clear the bar in three of the four college football sections and are near the top in college hoops win percentage and NCAA Tourney trips over the past two decades. It’s absolutely remarkable, considering Wisconsin did not make any NCAA Tournament appearances from 1948 through 1993. And the football build by Barry Alvarez is one of the all-time program construction jobs.

Oklahoma Sooners

Next? Take a look at Oklahoma. Yes, the Sooners. Oklahoma ranks second in title game trips in football and also makes a mark in one hoops category: 14 Big Dance tickets since 1995-96. It’s made four trips to the Sweet 16 and beyond. Oklahoma’s win percentage in hoops and football in that span is .684.

Louisville Cardinals

While Louisville can’t sweep the hoops category (it hasn’t won five or more regular-season titles in the past two decades), it’s the fourth and final school to get mention in both genres. The Cardinals, by nature of six division/conference titles in football, are in the club. And they barely squeak in by comparison to Florida.

Norlander has a list of the best in each category, and you can check that out by reading his full post.

Fourth place is impressive and all, but I seem to think if there was a study done about overall success in every sport that your school offers, Louisville would be #1.

Either way, Go Cards!

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