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U of L 16th in ESPN prestige rankings has been performing a rather interesting exercise this week, counting down the most prestigious college basketball programs since 1984-85 (when the tournament expanded to 64 teams) by using the following formula to award point totals to each of the 300 eligible D-1 programs:

• National title … 25
• Title game loss … 20
• National semifinal loss … 15
• Elite Eight loss … 10
• Best W-L record in conference's regular season … 5
• 30+ wins in a season … 5
• Sweet 16 loss … 5
• Conference tournament title … 3
• AP first-team All-American … 3
• Losing in NCAA second round … 3
• Player in Top 10 of NBA draft … 2
• NCAA first-round win as a 12-16 seed … 2
• NIT title … 2
• AP second-team All-American … 2
• 20-29 wins in a season … 1
• NCAA tournament berth … 1
• Postseason NIT berth … 1
• AP third-team All-American … 1
• NCAA first-round loss to a 12-16 seed … -2
• Losing season … -3
• Ban from NCAA tournament … -3
>> Minimum 15 seasons in Division I
** Ties are broken by overall winning percentage since the 1984-85 season
^^ Teams are listed with their current conferences

We can haggle over the system all day long (one point for both an NCAA Tournament and NIT berth seems a bit odd), but it has been fairly enjoyable to follow a countdown like this that's based on something other than "well, here's what I think."

Anyhow, da World Wide Leader unveiled programs 20-11 today, and our beloved Louisville Cardinals came in at No. 16.


Positives: 16 conference titles (7 regular-season; 9 tourney); 2 30-win seasons; 17 NCAA berths; 9 Sweet 16s; 1986 national championship

Negatives: 3 losing seasons; 1 first-team All-American; 14 20-win seasons is tied for the fewest of the teams in the Top 20

Total points: 204

Did you know? Louisville would have been at least 14th on this list if it was able to upset North Carolina in last year's Elite Eight game. A five-year span between the 1997-98 and 2001-02 seasons is the only stretch of mediocrity for a program that has been consistently good. The Cardinals are last among the three schools tied with 204 points because of the lowest combined winning percentage (.658) since 1984-85.

Even with that rough five-year stretch, I have a hard time believing that U of L has been less prestigious over the past 22 seasons than Memphis, Arkansas or Oklahoma, but again, the formula is what it is, and overall I'd say 16 isn't too far off from where we deserve to be.

You have to think Duke pretty much has the top spot on lock.

Where the other Big East teams checked in:

T-229. South Florida
T-225. Rutgers
T-111. Providence
95. Depaul
T-86. Notre Dame
67. West Virginia
T-61. Marquette
51. Seton Hall
44. Pittsburgh
36. St. John's
31. Villanova
19. Cincinnati

Connecticut, Georgetown and Syracuse all rank somewhere in the top ten.