Power Ranking for College Basketball Conferences: Big 12 is the best of the big conferences; ACC is having a hard time

The ACC only has one team this week AP Top 25 Poll, tied for the least of all leagues considered to be included in the top seven conferences in college hoops. The Big 12, Big Ten and SEC lead the way with five teams in the AP Top 25. You could use this simple statistic to claim that, based on the poll, the ACC is the worst power conference and the Big 12, Big Ten and SEC – in some order – are the best.

And maybe you’d be right if you used that argument.

But there’s more than meets the eye if you really want to roll up your sleeves and organize conferences. Context is needed, such as which teams have played in the league, efficiency margins, injuries and more.

I’m here to deliver just that. So behold, a comprehensive ranking of the top seven leagues of the college hoops is below. This ranking takes the eye test into account to some degree, but it was compiled largely from efficiency data from KenPom.com and BartTorvik.com, as well as a comprehensive dive into how each team in each conference fared during non-conference play.

OKAY. Enough talk. Let’s get in.

1. Big 12

  • Big 12 teams in AP Top 25: 5 (No. 1 Baylor, No. 9 Kansas, No. 15 Iowa State, No. 19 Texas Tech, No. 21 Texas)
  • record vs. ranked teams in non-conference game: 7-6
  • Key Big 12 Wins in Non-Conference Game: Baylor on the state of Michigan (November 26) and Villanova (December 12); Oklahoma over Florida (December 1) and Arkansas (December 11); Kansas over the state of Michigan (November 9); Texas Tech over Tennessee (Dec. 7); West Virginia over UConn (Dec. 8); Iowa State over Xavier (November 24), Memphis (November 26) and Creighton (December 4)

To break down: The Big 12 is #1 by a bullet and I’m on a pretty solid limb with this proclamation — both BartTorvik.com tempo-free stats and KenPom.com rate the league as the best based on their own efficiency data. In non-conference play, it has proven itself worthy of the crown, too, with seven wins over ranked opponents and two of its league members — Baylor and Iowa State — claiming two of those wins over top-10 teams. What’s more impressive is that while No. 1 Baylor and No. 9 Kansas really help to carry the respect of the conference overall, the depth of the competition has held up well with non-ranked teams like West Virginia and Oklahoma taking wins. gain on high-value power opponents as well.

2. Big Ten

  • Big ten teams in AP Top 25: 5 (No. 7 Purdue, No. 10 Michigan State, No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 16 Ohio State, No. 25 Illinois)
  • record vs. ranked teams in non-conference game: 7-7
  • Key Big Ten Wins in Non-Conference Play: Michigan State over Loyola Chicago (November 24) and UConn (November 25); Ohio State on Duke (Nov. 30); Wisconsin over Houston (November 23); Purdue over North Carolina (November 20) and Villanova (November 21); Maryland over Florida (December 12)

To break down: There is an unfair perception that Big Ten basketball, perhaps because of Wisconsin and Michigan football, is based on playing hard defense and lashing out on offense. But let’s talk about it now: That’s a misconception that needs to be booted to the moon. This league ranks #1 of all major conferences this season in modified offensive efficiency with a rating of 109.6 according to BartTorvik.com and its seven wins over ranked opponents in non-conference matches for the most of all seven mentioned. It’s a clear #2 on this list for me and anchored by a quartet of Final Four candidates in Purdue, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State.

3. SEC

  • SEC teams in AP Top 25: 5 (No. 4 Auburn, No. 12 LSU, No. 18 Kentucky, No. 22 Tennessee, No. 24 Alabama)
  • record vs. ranked teams in non-conference game: 6-4
  • Major SEC Wins In Non-Conference Game: Alabama over Gonzaga (December 4) and Houston (December 11); Maroon over Loyola Chicago (November 25); Kentucky over North Carolina (Dec. 18); Tennessee over North Carolina (November 21) and Arizona (December 22); Georgia over Memphis (December 1)

To break down: Six wins over ranked teams in non-conference play for the SEC is pretty misleading — one was a Georgia win over a once-dead Memphis team and two others were Kentucky and Tennessee swiping aside a slightly overrated UNC team — but the league still earns his position at No. 3. First off, Auburn (whose I told you in preseason to bet 60-1!!) last year suddenly looks like a real title contender from Alabama, led by a top-10 defense and a potential number 1 pick in Jabari Smith. So that’s good. And if you take into account that LSU and Kentucky appear to be top-15 mainstays, the top of this league justifies this position just behind the Big Ten.

4. Great East

  • Big East teams in AP Top 25: 4 (No. 14 Villanova, No. 17 Xavier, No. 20 Seton Hall, No. 23 Providence)
  • record vs. ranked teams in non-conference game: 7-10
  • Key Big East wins in non-conference play: Villanova over Tennessee (November 20); Providence over Wisconsin (Nov. 15) and Texas Tech (Dec. 1); Xavier on Ohio State (November 18) and Virginia Tech (November 26); Seton Hall over Michigan (November 16) and Texas (December 9); Marquette on Illinois (November 15) and West Virginia (November 19); UConn over Auburn (November 24); Butler on Oklahoma (Dec 7)

To break down: BartTorvik.com has a stat called Wins Above Bubble (WAB) that aims to quantify how a bubble team could potentially fare against a similar schedule. The WAB stats also apply to conferences, and the Big East ranks second on BartTorvik.com with a WAB of 4.7 which is well behind the Big 12 but ahead of the Big Ten as one of only three leagues to win. do not have a negative WAB. If those nice numbers don’t convince you of the Big East’s placement here ahead of the Pac-12, ACC and American, here’s just a small list of teams that have been defeated by Big East programs: Tennessee, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois and Auburn — all teams that have been or are currently in the top 15 in the AP poll. (Cue David Fizdale voice: take that for data!)

5. Pac-12

  • Pac-12 teams in AP Top 25: 3 (No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 USC, No. 6 Arizona)
  • record vs. ranked teams in non-conference game: 2-10
  • Key Pac-12 wins in non-conference play: UCLA over Villanova (November 12); USC over San Diego State (November 26); Arizona over Michigan (November 21) and Illinois (December 11);

To break down: The Pac-12 has been adversely affected more than most by COVID-19 disruptions — and the overall data isn’t much helped by top dog UCLA who had to miss this season nearly a month early before falling to Oregon 84-81 in OT Thursday At home. So that’s factored into my super-secret formula here. But outside of the top three at UCLA, USC, and Arizona, there’s not much reason to put the Pac-12 higher than No. 5 (even if I like some of the pieces from Colorado and Stanford). It could be a three bid competition that has no other teams even in the bubble. filthy.

6. ACC

  • ACC teams in AP Top 25: 1 (no. 8 duke)
  • record vs. ranked teams in non-conference game: 4-15
  • Top ACC Wins in Non-Conference Game: Duke over Kentucky (Nov. 9 and Gonzaga (Nov. 26); North Carolina over Michigan (Dec. 1)); Notre Dame over Kentucky (Dec. 11); Syracuse over Indiana (Nov. 30))

To break down: It’s not quite a “There’s Duke, then there’s everyone” situation in the ACC, but as far as other top dogs in other respective conferences are compared, Duke certainly has a heavier water bucket than anyone else. At this point, it certainly feels like we’re staggering toward a Duke situation than anyone else’s — at least when it comes to relevant contenders. It is the only team currently in the polls and the rest of the ACC is down a lot compared to recent years. Maybe the recent wave of Miami can regain some respect for the competition, but Virginia has struggled, Louisville is hot and cold, the state of Florida looked unusually flawed, and I’m still not quite sure what to think of UNC. We will see. Overall, the verdict isn’t out yet — I’m not ready to write the ACC’s eulogy just yet — but it’s been a really bad season for the conference so far. At least there’s Duke.

7. American Athletic Conference

  • AAC teams in AP Top 25: 1 (No. 11 Houston)
  • record vs. ranked teams in non-conference game: 2-5
  • Top OC wins in non-conference play: Houston over the state of Oklahoma (Dec. 18); Memphis over Virginia Tech (November 24) and Alabama (December 14); UCF over Michigan (Dec. 30); Cincinnati over Illinois (November 22); Wichita State over Oklahoma State (Dec. 1);

To break down: Houston is the No. 3 team on KenPom.com and on BartTorvik.com despite being outside the top 10 in the latest AP poll. the analysis love them some Cougars. But Kelvin Sampson’s club could well be the crown jewel of a (potential) American with one bid; Jerry Palm has Houston and Memphis barely as things stand now in his latest bracket. The competition outside of Houston is just really not strong.

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