In ratings that measure both historical production and recruiting success, analytics expert Ken Pomeroy put Arizona at No. 5 overall on a list of top college basketball programs since 1997, behind only top-ranked Duke, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Kansas and No. 4 North Carolina.
Behind Arizona, in order from 6-10, are Michigan State, Villanova, Louisville, Florida and Texas in ratings Pomeroy, who runs kenpom.com, posted on Friday.
The ratings are a combination of Kenpom's annual rankings plus some adjustments for recruiting classes and conference affiliation. More weight was put on a team's best seasons since 1997 (so as to factor in what's possible at a program).
Pomeroy told the Star that UA rated No. 3 from the past 10 seasons of combined RSCI recruiting rankings, behind only Kentucky and Duke, and that UA would be rated No. 10 overall since 1997 if recruiting rankings were not factored into his calculation.
"Theoretically, the rating should be an indicator of the success we should expect each program to have over some sort of extended period in the future (like many years)," Pomeroy wrote in an accompanying post that explained his rankings. "But it may be more useful as trying to capture the perception of a program. Consider it a guide to how coaches and players might consider the currently hierarchy of college basketball when entertaining job or scholarship offers."
Since 1997, UA has made appearances in 20 NCAA tournaments, including 12 Sweet 16s, two Final Fours and one national championship. Kenpom rated UA's 2013-14 team the best since 1997, at No. 2 overall, while last season was the worst, at No. 97.
In the Pac-12, Arizona's 32.65 rating was nearly seven points higher than the next highest team, UCLA. However, the 1997 cutoff meant both the height of the Lute Olson era and Sean Miller's second-weekend NCAA tournament teams (and recruiting classes) were factored in — while UCLA's 1995 national championship (and, of course, anything John Wooden-related) were not.
The cutoff also benefited Stanford because Mike Montgomery's early struggles with the Cardinal did not count while his best teams did.
Here's how Kenpom rated Pac-12 teams since 1997:
5. Arizona 32.65
13. UCLA 25.70
20. Oregon 22.43
32. Stanford 19.88
41. USC 18.31
43. Washington 17.81
59. Utah 15.80*
62. Cal 15.27
71. ASU 13.92
80. Colorado 11.72*
95. Oregon State 7.48
98. Washington State 7.41
*Colorado and Utah did not enter the Pac-12 until 2011-12
UA assistant coach Justin Gainey became the father of another boy on Friday. His older son, Jordan, is entering his senior year at Salpointe.