The ESPN eggheads in lab coats (our affectionate name for the Stats and Info group) have devised a system to rank the 50 best college programs over the last half-century. Last week, they rolled out the results and UConn was No. 9. In general, that sounds about right. For some perspective, here's 1-8: UNC, UCLA, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, Louisville, Indiana and Syracuse.
It may seem slightly odd that the Huskies would be the third Big East team on the list but remember: this isn't just an examination of the last 10-15 years, we're going back to the '60s. ESPN, which used a point system to sort through the particulars, provides some insights into UConn's No. 9 ranking:
Positives: Three national championships since 1999, the most of any program in that span. The Huskies have the sixth-most points (349) in the Jim Calhoun era (which began in 1986-87), after having the 51st-most points (74) from 1962-86.
Negatives: UConn has failed to win an NCAA tournament game in four of the past six seasons (six total points in those four years). Had zero NCAA tournament appearances in the 1980s. No 30-win seasons or No. 1 seeds before 1990.
ESPN even went through the trouble of ranking each by by decade. For UConn it looks like this: '60s - 14th, '70s - 71st, '80s - 204th - '90s - 5th, 2000-present - 7th. Taken in context the Huskies' No. 9 ranking starts to make sense because basically the team's success coincides with Jim Calhoun's arrival in 1986. And that will be his legacy -- singlehandedly taking the program from regional to national. Now his next challenge will be getting the Huskies back into the national conversation in 2013-14. The team will be long on youth but short on experience this season, and they're also ineligible for postseason play. But as long as Calhoun is the coach, everyone expects the current situation to be a temporary one.