2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament logo2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

How Important Is Winning a Conference Tourney to Reaching the Men's Final Four?

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02:  The Kentucky Wildcats celebrate after defeating the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 2, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Jerry TappSenior Analyst IIIMarch 11, 2013

March Madness really takes off this week as many of the major college conferences begin their men’s conference tournaments.

Thirty-one of the 68 berths in this year’s tournament come from those schools that win their conference tourney (or in the case of one conference, the Ivy League, which sends the school that won their regular season title), while the remaining 37 schools in the tournament will receive an at-large berth from the committee this Sunday.

Since 2000, there have been 52 different teams that have made it to the Final Four in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Over that time frame, just under 54% of those Final Four teams (28 of the 52) played in their conference tournament championship game the week prior to the NCAA tournament. T

Twenty-three of the 28 won their conference tourney.

Of last year’s Final Four teams, Rick Pitino’s Louisville squad was the only one to win its conference tournament (they won the Big East Conference tournament); Kentucky and Ohio State both lost in their conference title game, while Kansas was defeated in the Big 12 conference semifinals.

In 2011, three of the Final Four teams won their conference tournament (Connecticut, Butler and Kentucky) and the fourth team, VCU, lost in the title game. In 2010, again three Final Four teams won their conference tournament (Duke, Butler and West Virginia) while Final Four participant Michigan State was defeated in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament.

Following are how well the Final Four teams since 2000 (the last 13 tournaments) did in their conference tournaments prior to the NCAA tournament.

Final Four teams that won their conference tournament: 23

Final Four teams that lost in the conference tournament title game: 5

Final Four teams that lost in the conference tournament semifinals: 14

Final Four teams that lost in the conference tournament quarterfinals: 9

Final Four teams that did not play in a conference tournament: 1

Did you know? Of the 13 teams that won the NCAA championship this century (2000-2012), eight won their conference tournament. Of the other five, four of those schools, North Carolina in 2009, North Carolina in 2005, Syracuse in 2003 and Maryland in 2002, all lost in their conference semifinals. Last year, Kentucky lost in their Southeastern Conference championship game to Vanderbilt.

Did you know? The last year when none of the Final Four teams won their conference tournament was 2009.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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