Conference Performance In The NCAA Tournament

With the mass exodus of talent to the NBA last year, most people expected that the ACC would be down this year and that’s pretty much how things turned out. Carolina was better than expected, but that was offset by Duke being not as good as expected. Most people, me included, thought the Blue Devils would be far and away the best team in the country, but they struggled all season with developing their bench and getting consistent production from anyone other than J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams. Boston College was also supposed to be a top-ten team, but rarely played like it. They coasted at times and were more like a 15-20-type team.
The NCAA Tournament isn’t necessarily the best way to rate a conference’s yearly performance – a true measure would take tournament performance combined with a few computer power ratings and head-to-head comparisons against other top leagues – but it’s probably the most significant. Five years from now, few people will remember much about this season other than that Duke failed to reach a Final Four and the ACC was shut out of the Elite Eight. Likewise, many will forget that the SEC had a relatively down year, because that league has stepped up so nicely in the postseason.


I put together a table that shows how each of the six power conferences (sorry, Conference USA, you no longer count) have performed so far in the postseason. In each column, I’ve bolded the top figure so that you see for example that the Big East led in bids while the SEC has the best winning percentage.

 

NCAA NIT Total Postseason

Conference

Bids W-L Win % Bids W-L Win % Bids W-L Win %

ACC

4 6-4 .600 6 4-6 .400 10 10-10 .500

Big East

8 11-8 .579 4 7-4 .636 12 18-12 .600

Big Ten

6 3-6 .333 3 5-3 .625 9 8-9 .471

Big Twelve

4 4-4 .500 3 0-3 .000 7 4-7 .364

Pac 10

4 7-3 .700 1 1-1 .500 5 8-4 .666

SEC

6 11-4 .733 2 5-1 .833 8 16-5 .761

As you see, the ACC falls in the middle of the pack in most measures. It didn’t flop nearly as badly as the Big Ten or Big Twelve, but didn’t perform as well as the Big East, Pac Ten or SEC. What’s particularly interesting is that Big Ten was believed by many to be the top league this year while the Pac Ten and SEC were almost universally thought to be having bad years.
For my next table, I’ve added another column for what I call Impact. Impact is simply the number of bids multiplied by the conference winning percentage. This takes into account both how well a league did (win %) and how many teams they sent to the dance. This way, teams that get bids but lose in the first round (half of the 64-team field) can still have a positive impact on a league’s rating. In effect, this gives a league credit for it’s pre-tournament success and also keeps leagues that send only one or two teams from appearing to be the top conference if one of their teams makes a deep run (like the CAA this year).
Curiously, the Impact rating says that the Big East has had more impact on the tournament than the SEC (to this point). This may seem counter-intuitive, since the SEC has two Final Four teams while the Big East has none, but remember that the Big East had four Sweet Sixteen teams while the SEC was already down to two at that point.

 

NCAA

Conference

Bids W-L Win % Impact

ACC

4 6-4 .600 2.40

Big East

8 11-8 .579 4.89

Big Ten

6 3-6 .333 2.00

Big Twelve

4 4-4 .500 2.00

Pac 10

4 7-3 .700 2.80

SEC

6 11-4 .733 4.40

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *