Director of News
Products Barry Bedlan pitched an ambitious idea: With the 75th anniversary of The
Associated Press Top 25 men’s basketball poll coming up this season, could the
AP find a way to sift the data — 75 years of weekly polls — to come up with a rundown
of the greatest teams of all time?
The result was an eye-catching and popular package of stories, augmented by historical photos, helpful graphics and a compelling interactive tracing the evolution of the teams that have consistently been the best in the land, not just week to week. The detailed data allowed AP to declare that Kentucky has consistently been the very best team for all those years, but it was a close contest.
The work by AP Basketball Writers Dave Skretta, Aaron Beard, John Marshall and Tim Reynolds also allowed AP to explore wider angles — to investigate whether the early poll era accurately reflected the great Black-only teams in the pre-Civil Rights era (it did not), offer analyses of the one-and-done era’s impact on the game, highlight the biggest changes to the game (shot clock, 3-point line) and serve up buzzworthy items — on the best teams, best games and more. The stories were accompanied by dozens of photos curated by Paul Kazdan and a rundown of the best teams by decade. Graphics from Jake O’Connell, a timeline interactive from Koko Nakajmia and audio from Ron Vample’s team at AP Radio rounded out the package.