PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men's basketball program joined an exclusive list as No. 22 on ESPN.com's "50 in 50" series charting the top 50 programs in NCAA Division I over the last 50 years (starting with 1962-63). The Quakers tied for No. 22 with their Ivy League rival, Princeton. The list beganAugust 21and ended August 24.
Among the men's basketball programs Penn is listed ahead of in the "50 in 50" series: Texas (26), Maryland (27), Notre Dame (29), Illinois (33), Florida (t-40), and Big 5 rival Saint Joseph's (t-40).
Penn has won all of its 25 Ivy League titles and made appearance in 23 NCAA Tournaments during the time period viewed by ESPN.com. The Quakers put together a Final Four run in 1978-79, and had two other teams (1970-71 and 1971-72) advance to the NCAA regional final, one step shy of the Final Four. Penn players have been awarded Ivy League Player of the Year 16 times, most recently Zack Rosen this past season.
As part of the project, ESPN.com put together an all-star team of Quakers since 1962-63 and selected Ron Haigler (1973-75) and Jerome Allen (1992-95) as its guards, Tony Price (1977-79) and Corky Calhoun (1970-72) as its forwards, and Stan Pawlak (1964-66) as its center. The top options off the bench were Bobby Morse (1969-72), Keven McDonald (1975-78) and Ugonna Onyekwe (1999-2003). Chuck Daly, who headed up the program from 1972-77, was named the 50 in 50 Coach.
ESPN.com listed the Quakers' 1970-71 team its best in the last 50 years; under head coach Dick Harter, that group went undefeated through the regular season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament East Regional final, losing to Villanova to finish the year 28-1 overall and ranked third nationally.
Penn's 1978-79 Final Four team, coached by Bob Weinhauer and headlined by Price, was listed second by ESPN.com. In addition to its Final Four run, that Quaker squad still holds the distinction of being the only team to beat the University of North Carolina in an NCAA Tournament game played in the Tar Heel state (72-71 in the first round in Raleigh). The third team selected was Penn's 1993-94 squad (25-3 overall, NCAA Tournament first-round win over Nebraska), which was coached by Fran Dunphy and featured a backcourt with Allen and Matt Maloney.
The ESPN.com ranking gave Penn 289 points and pointed out the Final Four run as well as four other Sweet 16 appearances in the 1970s. ESPN.com also pointed out that Penn won at least 80 percent of its games in eight different seasons and 75 percent or better in 17 seasons. In breaking down the last 50 years by decade, Penn's run from 1970-79 was ranked a staggering fifth behind only UCLA, Kentucky, Marquette and UNC.