Ranking the Power Conferences Through CBB Non-Conference Play
[lead align=”default”]About a month into the college basketball season, the non-conference games pile up for contenders in power conferences.[/lead]
What a team does here and now helps determine how far they go in March, or if they get there at all. You can’t win a national championship in November and December, but you can lose one.
The prestige and strength of a league makes a difference for the individual teams within the power conferences and other leagues. Which of the biggest conferences have done the best so far and which are lagging behind?
Power Conferences in Non-Conference Play: Conference RPI
Conference RPI rankings as of Saturday afternoon; power conferences only (strength of schedule rank in parenthesis).
2. Big 12 (5)
3. Big Ten (2)
4. ACC (6)
5. SEC (1)
6. Pac-12 (7)
The Big East leads conference RPI amongst all 32 leagues in Division I.
Power Conferences in Non-Conference Play: Big 12 #1
Best RPI team: Baylor (1)
Worst RPI team: Kansas State (156)
Best quality win (based on RPI): Baylor vs. Louisville
Worst loss: Iowa State vs. Iowa
Number of AP ranked teams: Four (Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State)
Number of AP top ten teams: Two (Kansas, Baylor)
The Big 12 looks like the best of the power conferences now in college basketball. There weren’t many catastrophic losses when looking through the schedules so far, but many of teams near the top of the Big 12 have huge wins. This may be the best conference top to bottom at the moment.
Power Conferences in Non-Conference Play: ACC #2
Best RPI team: Louisville (6)
Worst RPI team: Boston College (333)
Best quality win (based on RPI): Duke vs. Florida
Worst loss: Hartford vs. Boston College
Number of AP ranked teams: Five (Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame)
Number of AP top ten teams: Two (Duke, North Carolina)
As Gordon Ramsay once said on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Boston College is incomprehensibly horrible and can’t be considered the best of the power conferences right now. Yet, that can’t completely be the case, because if we judged the whole ACC by Boston College, they’d be one of the nation’s worst conferences. That is sincerely not the case.
Otherwise, the quality of the better teams’ wins are decent and one can imagine an ACC team or two going a long way.
Power Conferences in Non-Conference Play: Big Ten #3
Best RPI team: Minnesota (8)
Worst RPI team: Iowa (202)
Best quality win (based on RPI): Indiana vs. Kansas
Worst loss: Ohio State vs. Florida Atlantic
Number of AP ranked teams: Three (Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue)
Number of AP top ten teams: One (Indiana)
The Big Ten doesn’t have bad win quality at all. Sure, teams like Michigan State and Ohio State that are normally up aren’t this season to date, but the top dogs in this conference are doing just fine. The differentiating factor here for the Big Ten is that there really aren’t many quote-unquote disaster losses. Only a small handful of defeats were outside the RPI Top 100.
Power Conferences in Non-Conference Play: SEC #4
Best RPI team: Florida (4)
Worst RPI team: Missouri (212)
Best quality win (based on RPI): Arkansas vs. UT-Arlington
Worst loss: Mississippi State vs. Lehigh
Number of AP ranked teams: Three (Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida)
Number of AP top ten teams: One (Kentucky)
The best win in terms of RPI for the conference was against UT-Arlington. No, this is not the best power conference right now.
Power Conferences in Non-Conference Play: Pac-12 #5
Best RPI team: USC (16)
Worst RPI team: Oregon State (308)
Best quality win (based on RPI): Colorado vs. Xavier
Worst loss: Oregon State vs. Fresno State
Number of AP ranked teams: Three (UCLA, Arizona, Oregon)
Number of AP top ten teams: One (UCLA)
It’s not until you get to the very bottom of the Pac-12 that you start seeing some real whoppers of losses. What differentiates them from a team like the Big 12 is that the quality of their wins isn’t as good. UCLA is legitimately a good team that made the top tier of the poll because of a win over Kentucky. Aside that, however, the Pac-12 has no other elite teams.
Arizona could get there, but aren’t there now, and the same goes for Oregon.