ESPN released its rankings of the top football states in America today, looking at high school talent, NFL and NCAA champions, Heisman winners and a slew of other criteria. Texas came out No. 1, to no one's surprise, followed by California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Michigan was seventh.
Got me thinking: Where would Michigan rank in a poll of the top basketball states? Let's see, the Pistons won the NBA title three years ago and reached the finals the following season, MSU won an NCAA title in 2000 and has been to four Final Fours since '99, the state has produced the likes of Magic Johnson and Chris Webber, two of the best high school hoopers ever, plus another 20-plus Division I players a year, and in the NBA right now Michigan claims Shane Battier, Chris Kaman, Morris Peterson, Paul Davis and a handful of others.
Without crunching any numbers, I'd guess that California has Michigan beat on sheer numbers alone. The state oozes talent and the Lakers, UCLA, Cal and usually Stanford field more than respectable basketball teams. Florida produced both the NBA (Miami Heat) and NCAA champs (Florida Gators) last year, but overall I'd take Michigan's talent and history ahead of the Sunshine State. Texas (thanks to the Spurs, Mavs, Rockets, Longhorns and talent-rich Dallas) and Illinois (Chicago is loaded, and the Bulls and Illini haven't been too bad, either) are the only other states in the mix. Philadelphia has gobs of players, but Pennsylvania hasn't produced an NBA or NCAA champ in a generation; Atlanta is a hotbed of high school talent, but again has no limited pro and college success; and Ohio is riding the LeBron James wave, but still a notch below Michigan.
In my two-cent evaluation, I'd rank Michigan third behind California and Texas, and argue if you dropped them any lower than fourth. What do you think?