Maybe it's me, but there are several NE states whose flagship state universities are underrated or just not highly esteemed: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts. I also don't hear much about New Hampshire, Maine or Rhode Island. Could it be the presence of so many private elite schools in these states: the Ivies and LACs such as Williams?
It frustrates me that the SUNY system doesn't have a great reputation, and I don't know why that is. The reasons mentioned above are probably part of it (no true flagship, and 1960's architecture). We just drove through Geneseo and loved it. If my D were interested in a liberal arts community it would be at the top of our list. I wonder what drives a college's reputation. Is it that the research is not cutting edge? Is it a lack of funding? Difficulty getting classes? Students who go to Bing seem to really love it.