Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Best Conference

Which is the best conference?

There are arguments to be made for several. In terms of number of teams likely to go to the tournament, it would be hard to argue against the Big East. There are few bracket predictions that do not grant the Big East conference at least eight teams in the Big Dance (and the College Women's Hoops S-Factor says ten, but we'll see).

One might be able to argue the ACC is the best conference. Six teams, or half of the conference, is in the RPI top 25. Eight teams are in the top 50. And 9th place North Carolina State scored a big win last night against 12th ranked North Carolina, showing that at least the top 9 teams provide highly competitive matchups.

But 9 out of 12 isn't as good as 12 out of 12. One might be able to argue the Big 12 is the best conference. The Big 12 has the highest RPI of all the conferences, due in large part to the relative success of the bottom teams in the conference when measured against the bottom teams from other conferences. Every team in the Big 12 has at least one top 50 win, a feat shared by the ACC. But unlike the ACC, every team in the Big 12 has beaten at least one conference foe likely to be in the NCAA Tournament ...

Except Kansas State. Kansas State could get to 9-7 in conference without beating any conference opponent likely to go to the tournament. Which is why Kansas State would be unlikely to go to the NCAA Tournament with only a 9-7 record, while Texas Tech would have a much better chance at going to the tournament with a 7-9 conference record because of their world-shockin' court-stormin' win over top-ranked Baylor on Saturday.


Now in: American, UA Little Rock, Rutgers, Syracuse, Kansas State
Now out: Navy, Middle Tennessee State, Arizona State, LSU, Vanderbilt

Conferences with multiple bids:
Big East: 10
Big 12: 7
Big Ten: 6
ACC: 6
SEC: 4
PAC-10: 3
Atlantic 10: 3
Colonial: 2

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