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June 10, 2014

The best football-basketball programs in America



If NBA player and Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward were coming out of high school right now, he would likely be looking at Louisville.

In the last two seasons, the best basketball-football combos in America have been Louisville, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State.

All those programs have been good, but Louisville is the only school in America to have both football and basketball ranked in the final Top 25 poll in football and basketball the last two seasons.

Rankings aren't everything, but they do tell us a lot - especially the final polls, which are generally the most accurate.

(I took the final basketball poll after the NCAA Tournament and bowls - AP would be preferred, but they didn't post a post-NCAA Tournament basketball poll. So this is AP for football and Coaches for basketball)

2012-13
In 2012-13, Louisville basketball won the NCAA title in basketball and beat then-No. 4 Florida in Sugar Bowl.

In the final polls, Louisville basketball was No. 1 and football was No. 13. That ranking total - 14, was second best in the nation, behind only Ohio State's total of 9 (OSU was No. 6 in basketball and No. 3 in football). Oregon was No. 15 in basketball and No. 3 in football (18).

Louisville, Oregon and Ohio State were the only programs to finish both sports in the top 25.

2013-14
While not as highly ranked as 2012-13, Louisville still finished No. 9 in the college basketball poll and No. 15 in football, winning a bowl game over Miami.

That combined total (24) is second only to Michigan State which finished No. 8 in basketball, No. 3 in football (11).

Wisconsin was No. 4 in basketball and No. 21 in football (25). UCLA was No. 16 in football and No. 15 in basketball (31). Duke was No. 16 in basketball and No. 23 in football (39).

Ohio State was No. 12 in football, but not ranked in basketball. Oregon was No. 9 in football, but not ranked in basketball.

THE MAJOR LEAGUES
Which schools have been the best in recent years at both sports?

ACC
Louisville joins the league on July 1 and immediately becomes one of the top contenders in both football and basketball. Duke has had recent success in both sports, and Pitt, Syracuse and Florida State and Miami should be great in both sports.
Two-Sport Star Julius Peppers had success at football and basketball, before choosing to focus on football in the NFL. Jimmy Graham played basketball and football at Miami before choosing the NFL as well.

The Big Ten
The league can reasonably claim to have the most schools with two-sport success in recent years with Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State leading the way. Michigan should be among that elite group as well.
Two-Sport Star Indiana, with Antwaan Randle-El is the program with the most-recent example of a football-basketball two-sport star.

Pac-12
Oregon has had success in both major sports recently, as has UCLA and Stanford. Both Arizona schools seem to be able to compete at the highest levels in both sports as well.
Two-Sport Star Tony Gonzalez is probably the best of the football-basketball stars. He was a decent basketball player, but a tremendous threat on the football field.

The Big 12
Baylor has been the best at both sports recently, but Texas and Oklahoma have each had runs in both sports. Kansas has had success at the highest level in both sports, and Oklahoma State always seems to have a contender.
Two-Sport Star Martellus Bennett of the Chicago Bears played basketball at Texas A&M. The Aggies are now part of the SEC.

The SEC
The league didn't have a single team make the NCAA Tournament and a bowl game last year. Odd, right? The league also didn't have any teams make the top 25 in both sports in the last two seasons. Florida has had the most recent history of success in both sports, and Tennessee, Missouri and LSU have had national contenders in both sports.
Two-Sport Star Without a recent example, can you imagine Kentucky's Julius Randle as a NFL tight end? Wow. Or how about Jadeveon Clowney running a fast break? He'd destroy the rim.



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