So ESPN, once again showing that if you throw enough money at someone they can come up with rankings, even in the July doldrums of college basketball. Really though, what better time to do this when the biggest news in the basketball world is a fight in the WNBA.

Their summer project this year is to rank all the college teams in terms of prestige. Of course, putting Duke and North Carolina near the top, and NJIT at the bottom wouldn’t take much work, so they decided to approach this task in purely mathematical terms according to the following criteria.

• National title … 25
• Title game loss … 20
• National semifinal loss … 15
• Elite Eight loss … 10
• Best W-L record in conference’s regular season … 5
• 30-plus wins in a season … 5
• Sweet 16 loss … 5
• Conference tournament title … 3
• AP first-team All-American … 3
• Losing in NCAA second round … 3
• Player in top 10 of NBA draft … 2
• NCAA first-round win as a 12-16 seed … 2
• NIT title … 2
• AP second-team All-American … 2
• 20-29 wins in a season … 1
• NCAA tournament berth … 1
• Postseason NIT berth … 1
• AP third-team All-American … 1
• NCAA first-round loss to a 12-16 seed … -2
• Losing season … -3
• Ban from NCAA tournament … -3

This isn’t golf, and negative numbers are not good. The good news is the Gophers would have won the British Open, at least over the least since the 1980s, the time frame which these rankings cover.

ESPN didn’t post the scores for the less prestigious schools, so the Gophers raw score is a bit of a mystery. Is the NCAA tournament ban score per season, per NCAA sanctions or self-imposed, and what about the successful seasons that kinda sorta didn’t happen? Regardless of how the answers to these and other questions, the Gophers came in at a not great 68. Joining the Gophers in the not so great cohort are

51. Seton Hall, Big East
52. North Carolina State, ACC
T-53. Miami (Ohio), MAC
T-53. Southern Illinois, Missouri Valley
55. Missouri State, Missouri Valley
56. Valparaiso, Horizon
T-57. Iowa State, Big 12
T-57. Saint Joseph’s, Atlantic 10
59. Creighton, Missouri Valley
60. Davidson, Southern

T-61. Marquette, Big East
T-61. Navy, Patriot
T-61. New Mexico State, WAC
T-61. Utah State, WAC
T-65. Richmond, Atlantic 10
T-65. UTEP, Conference USA
67. West Virginia, Big East
68. Minnesota, Big Ten
69. Siena, MAAC
T-70. Boston College, ACC
T-70. New Mexico, Mountain West
T-70. Virginia, ACC

73. Charlotte, Atlantic 10
T-74. Louisiana Tech, WAC
T-74. Nevada, WAC
T-76. Montana, Big Sky
T-76. Old Dominion, Colonial
T-76. UAB, Conference USA
79. Winthrop, Big South
T-80. Bucknell, Patriot
T-80. Pepperdine, West Coast

Problem #1 with these rankings, which should be obvious, is the objective nature of this. Problem #2 is the time frame. By definition, prestige has a subjective element, or so say the folks who define words. And reputation and tradition, which contribute to prestige don’t follow neat time lines.

If Minnesota has several successful seasons in a row, and Indiana tanks over the next few years (which is pretty likely at this point), is Minnesota suddenly a more prestigious program because they had more recent success? Hardly. The memories of Bobby Knight and his screaming, chair throwing, star player whipping, son headbutting, game winning decades would and should over shadow Minnesota’s success, even if they do get to a final four that counts. If the Gopher football team average 6 wins over the next 10 years and Notre Dame averaged three wins per season over the same period of time, would you, could you, dare you presume that that would over shadows the Gipper and the Golden Dome? This may seem to be a moot point, and really, I am berating inconsequential rankings on the Internet, but how on earth are the Gophers ranked better than Notre Dame, who clocks in at #86?. Doesn’t an epic win to end the longest winning streak in sports a few years before the arbitrary start date for these rankings boost you a bit over a team that hasn’t been to an Elite Eight in almost two decades.

And for those ahead of the Gophers, such as Valparaiso, Missouri State, Chatanooga, Tulsa (sorry Tubby), Penn, Murray State, and who knows who else will pop into the to 10, they mostly benefit from being mediocre teams in horrible conferences. It is much easier to rack up points making winning the Sunbelt Conference year after year than to qualify as an at large team

I don’t have time to go, and I could, about the increased number of games per season in recent years and the like, but it is July, and ESPN has to give something to the chattering class to chatter about.