2013 Hoops & Helmets Rankings - Part 2

Posted Mar 20, 2013

Which schools have the best combination of football and basketball programs?

Hoops & Helmets 2013

Football & Hoops Schools - Part 2

By Richard Cirminiello

Oooooops & Helmets 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008
Hoops & Helmets 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007

- 2013 Hoops & Helmets, Part 2, No. 8 to 16
- 2013 Oooooops & Helmets

16. Ole Miss
By any number of measuring sticks, it has been a memorable fall and winter in Oxford. Rebels fans have been treated to an improbable bowl berth and bowl win in Hugh Freeze’s first year, a historically good recruiting class on Signing Day and the school’s first SEC Tournament title since 1981. Freeze has Ole Miss trending decidedly north, capping an impressive 7-6 campaign with wins in the Egg Bowl and the BBVA Compass Bowl. With colorfully emotional G Marshall Henderson fueling the charge, 26-8 Ole Miss defeated favored Florida on Sunday to lock up a No. 12 seed in this week’s NCAA Tournament. It’s the program’s first Big Dance appearance in over a decade.

15. Syracuse
Jim Boeheim’s basketball team can be counted on, year-in and year-out. The Orange football team? Not so much. This past year, though, Syracuse had more than usual to cheer about in the Carrier Dome in the fall. By winning six of its final seven games, the program snared a share of the Big East title. And by closing the year with a Pinstripe Bowl rout of West Virginia, it exacted a little revenge on a former Big East rival. A mediocre regular-season finish on the hardwood couldn’t prevent the Orange from winning 26 games or securing a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse cannot be overlooked this time of year, especially with a deep roster of talent led by G Michael Carter-Williams and F C.J. Fair.

14. Arizona
Rich Rodriguez’s impact in Tucson was swift and unmistakable. The former West Virginia and Michigan head coach led a flawed Wildcats team to eight wins, including upsets of Oklahoma State and USC, and a thrilling bowl victory over Nevada. The offense took flight without hesitation, averaging 526 yards and 38 points per game, generating a buzz in the desert. While Sean Miller’s basketball squad has had a few stumbles along the way, losing the regular-season title to UCLA, the 25-7 ‘Cats still managed to nab a No. 6 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Arizona can be maddeningly erratic, but this team can also beat just about anyone when it’s playing with its head screwed on right.

13. Duke
Coach K finally has company. And the Blue Devils are finally enjoying a little H&H love. Duke is a perennial rock in basketball, with this season being no different. The veteran Blue Devils have lost just five times all year, and as a two-seed, will be one of the main contenders to win another national title for coach Mike Krzyzewski. The triumphant return from injury of F Ryan Kelly makes Duke even scarier in the tournament. However, the Blue Devils hadn’t bowled since 1994 … until now, the reward for a six-win regular season. They lost to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, but the appearance was a Herculean step for head coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils are 3-0 against hated rival North Carolina since last Oct. 20.

12. Oklahoma
Sooners basketball has exceeded the bar in the winter. Sooners football missed the mark in the fall. Bob Stoops’ program was labeled a national championship contender in the preseason, but lost three times, capped by a Cotton Bowl blowout to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. Still, there was the historic Oct. 13 rout of Texas and an overtime win in Bedlam, so a sixth 10-win season in seven years is noteworthy. Lon Kruger has done a solid job in his first season in Norman, guiding a hoops squad that went 15-16 a year ago to 20 wins. After skipping the last two cycles, Oklahoma returns to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 10 seed, looking to ride the scoring of F Romero Osby.

11. Michigan State
The Spartans were SO close to being ranked so much higher. No, they didn't come up with an elite football record in 2012, but their final mark of 7-6 could have easily been 10-3 or 11-2. The D was loaded with next-level talent, but the offense had little more than Le’Veon Bell, the seminal reason Michigan State dropped an excruciating five games by no more than four points. It did, however, rally to beat TCU in a Buffalo Wild Wings nail-biter. The basketball team hasn’t been especially pretty either, but with Tom Izzo’s formula of defense, rebounding and grit, the Spartans have found a way to surpass expectations. The No. 3 seed is 25-8, boasting wins over Kansas, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan.

10. UCLA
Thank you, Jim Mora. The Bruins have been an H&H no-show because the football has been unable to adequately carry its weight. That paradigm began to shift with the hiring of Mora, who transformed the program’s identity and climate overnight. UCLA won nine games, its most since 2005, represented the South in the Pac-12 title game and completely erased the gap with crosstown rival USC. Paced by a blend of veterans, like Larry Drew II, and precocious rookies Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, 25-9 UCLA beat league favorite Arizona twice to win the Pac-12 regular-season basketball title, and again in the league tournament. The high-scoring Bruins are a possible sleeper as a No. 6 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

9. Oklahoma State
Sure, the Cowboys suffered through a predictable decline on the gridiron after losing so many key parts to the NFL, yet they managed to still win eight games and rank third nationally in scoring. Mike Gundy’s team hit the pause button for a year while its quarterbacks endured youth and injuries. Oklahoma State did amass a tailwind on the back of Purdue, burying the Boilermakers in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Pokes have been consistent all season long in basketball, winning the games it should, and losing to Gonzaga and Kansas by a point during the regular season. Fifth-seeded and 24-8, Okie State has the D and the backcourt tandem of Markel Brown and Marcus Smart to travel deep into the NCAA Tournament.

- 2013 Hoops & Helmets, Part 2, No. 8 to 16
- 2013 Oooooops & Helmets