Racer men’s basketball named to ESPN 50 in 50 list

The Racers celebrated the program's first NCAA Tournament win at Racer Arena in 1988. MSU defeated North Carolina State in the first round and lost a close game to eventual national champ Kansas in the second round in Lincoln, Neb. || photo courtesy of sports information

The Murray State men’s basketball program has been ranked 28th in ESPN’s 50 In 50 project that ranks the top-50 college basketball programs in the last 50 years. The network recently began counting down the list from No. 50 to No. 1.

ESPN.com noted a point system devised by the ESPN Stats & Information department that was used to come up with the rankings. The point system took into account many factors including all-time wins, conference titles, post-season appearances and national rankings.

The Racers were ranked ahead of Notre Dame (29), Western Kentucky (30), Gonzaga and Oklahoma tied (31), Illinois (33) and Xavier (34). MSU was ranked just behind Maryland (27) and Texas (26).

ESPN listed Murray State’s active streak of 25 straight winning seasons which is fourth nationally behind Syracuse, Kansas and Arizona as a big positive. The Racers’ impressive run has been accomplished under seven head coaches including Steve Prohm who leads MSU into his second season in 2012-13 after going 31-2 in his first season.

The Racers celebrated the program’s first NCAA Tournament win at Racer Arena in 1988. MSU defeated North Carolina State in the first round and lost a close game to eventual national champ Kansas in the second round in Lincoln, Neb. || photo courtesy of sports information

Prohm’s Racers were the darling team of last season and were the final undefeated team and they finished as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament where they finished one step from the Sweet 16. ESPN also cited the Racers’ 22 Ohio Valley Conference titles since 1962 as a plus. Murray State trails only Kentucky, UCLA,

Kansas and Penn. MSU’s 15 OVC Tournament titles are more than UNLV, UConn and Gonzaga have in their leagues.

The recognition by ESPN sheds light on the Racers’ remarkable consistency as the program has been positioned as one of the best in college basketball.

Based on the ESPN formula, the 2011-12 Murray State season was worth 18 points, which was eighth among all programs.

ESPN also ranked teams by decade. The Racers highest rank in one decade was 15th from 1990-99, when they won nine OVC regular season titles and seven OVC Tournament championships. MSU was ranked 34th from 1962-69, 281st from 1970-79 and 54th from 1980-89.

This is not the first time Racer Basketball has been among the best. ESPN ranked Murray State 30th in a similar list in 2008 and Street & Smith ranked MSU 52nd among its top-100 programs of all time in 2005.

ESPN’s top-10 included: North Carolina (1), UCLA (2), Kentucky (3), Duke (4), Kansas (5), Louisville (6), Indiana (7), Syracuse (8), Connecticut (9) and Arizona (10).

Story courtesy of sports information.