College Basketball Conference Power Rankings—New Year Edition

Jesse Kramer@Jesse_KramerCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2010

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 16:  Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates during the game against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at Freedom Hall on December 16, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville won 94-57.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This will rank how good all the conferences, including the Great West and the Independents, did during non-conference play. For the top three teams in each conference, it will go by the media poll. If there are not three teams nationally ranked in the conference, I will decide who I think are the top three teams. 

Please Note: All stats are as of Friday, January 1, 2010, 9 AM

Rank. Conference (Top Three Teams) Non-Conference Record (Winning Percentage)

1. Big East (Syracuse, West Virginia, Villanova) 150-34 (81.5 %)

The Big East remains the top conference this year. There are less teams that have a chance to be ranked No. 1 this season, but there are more teams that have a chance to make the NCAA tournament. Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, and Connecticut are all definite tournament teams. Pitt, Notre Dame, Louisville, and Cincinnati all have a solid chance at going to the postseason. St. John's and Seton Hall have restored New York City basketball this year, and both of them have a chance at being a lower seed in the NCAA tournament or a high seed in the NIT.

2. Big 12 (Kansas, Texas, Kansas State) 121-26 (82.3 %)

Kansas and Texas stand as the top two teams in the country and both undefeated. Kansas has not played against too much competition, but they have dominated in just about every game. Texas has played similarly, with wins over some top teams such as UNC and Michigan State. Kansas State has breached the Top 15 and is looking like a lock for the tournament.

Texas Tech has played well so far, with their one loss to a solid Wichita State squad. Oklahoma State and Texas A&M have played well and would most likely be at large bids as of now. Although Oklahoma has struggled so far, they are still a very dangerous team.

3. ACC (Duke, North Carolina, Georgia Tech) 120-26 (82.2 %)

The east coast remains dominant this year with the Big East and the ACC. Duke might finally be back to where they were before the departure of J.J. Redick. Duke has run over Charlotte and Gonzaga and also has a win over Connecticut. North Carolina is far from being the No. 1 team, but they are still ranked in the Top 10. If they get their defense in order, they could be a threat to repeat as champions.

Georgia Tech has been in the Top 25 all season. Currently ranked No. 20, the Yellow Jackets' only losses are in close games to Dayton and Florida State. Florida State has flirted with the Top 25 all year, and entered the national rankings this week. Wake Forest and Miami (FL) are also dangerous teams this year.

4. SEC (Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi) 113-40 (73.5 %)

Kentucky has been red hot. Despite having a young team, the Wildcats have the poise of a veteran team. They have played some games that were a little closer than they wanted against some lesser teams, but there is no argument that can be made that they are not one of the top teams in the country.

When Tennessee lost to USC, some started to doubt them. Although they have no signature win, it is clear that they are more than just good. Ole Miss has made their way into the Top 25 for most of the year. Florida had been flirting with the Top 10 before losing to Richmond and South Alabama.

This is a conference that might only four teams into the tournament, but all of those teams have a chance going far in March.

5. Atlantic 10 (Temple, Rhode Island, Richmond) 112-60 (65.1 %)

The Atlantic 10 has five unarguably solid teams this year. The three listed above, plus Dayton and Richmond. They have the fourth best conference RPI. This is a conference that picked up 105 non-conference wins and only 60 losses, which includes Fordham, who is one of the worst teams in the country.

Richmond is sneaky, as always. All three of their losses have come on the road. They have picked up close wins against Florida and Mississippi State.

6. Big Ten (Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State) 92-37 (71.3 %)

Purdue's balanced team, leading the Big Ten, is one of only six undefeated teams. Michigan State has struggled against the better teams this year and have cost their conference a higher ranking. Ohio State has managed to stay in the Top 15, despite losing Evan Turner to a back injury. Northwestern finally made their way into the AP Top 25 this week as they look to end years of misery

7. Mountain West (New Mexico, UNLV, BYU) 80-37 (68.4 %)

New Mexico picked up their first loss to Oral Roberts last week. UNLV has been in and out of the Top 25, while BYU continues to get votes every week. 

8. Pac-10 (Washington, USC, Washington State) 74-42 (63.8 %)

The easiest way to describe the Pac-10 this year is bad, or even horrible—whatever works for you. Washington is the conference's only Top 25 team. California and UCLA have been a huge disappointment. Luckily for the conference, USC has been playing very well recently, saving them from an even lower ranking.

9. MVC (Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Missouri State) 75-32 (70.1 %)

The Missouri Valley Conference is far and away the best mid-major conference this year. Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Missouri State, and Illinois State are four of the better mid-majors in the country. Southern Illinois and Indiana State have also won some big games this year.

10. CAA (Old Dominion, William & Mary, VCU) 70-59 (54.3 %)

Virginia Commonwealth has big wins over Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Richmond, while William & Mary has surprised many by winning eight straight games. Both William & Mary and VCU are in the RPI Top 10.

Old Dominion handed Georgetown their first and only loss in Washington D.C. George Mason has come close to beating some good teams, but have always fallen just short. Now with a 27 point loss to Radford, the Patriots are looking much weaker.

11. WCC (Gonzaga, St. Mary's, Portland) 59-55 (51.8 %)

Gonzaga is still ranked in the ESPN Top 25, with St. Mary's receiving some votes. Portland excited everyone with big wins early in the season, but have faltered since.

12. Horizon (Butler, Green Bay, Wright State) 61-56 (52.1 %)

Butler dropped out of the AP Top 25 this week, but are still a quality team with wins over UCLA, Northwestern, and Ohio State. Green Bay picked up a big win against No. 23 Wisconsin. Wright State, along with Butler and Green Bay, are in the College Insider Top 25.

13. C-USA (UAB, Memphis, Marshall) 80-51 (61.1 %)

With Calipari gone from Memphis, the C-USA took a big hit. Memphis remains a solid school, with UAB, Marshall, and Tulsa staying competitive. Although Memphis has dropped, the conference as a whole has improved with more teams playing better.

14. MAAC (Niagara, Siena, Fairfield) 57-48 (54.3 %)

The MAAC had the potential to be the best mid-major conference this year. Rider, led by NBA prospect Ryan Thompson, beat Mississippi State in their first game. Siena was coming off two straight years that ended in second round appearances in the NCAA tournament. Niagara was coming off an impressive season that resulted in a four seed in the NIT.

But all three of those teams have faltered. Rider is 8-6 with losses to Sam Houston State and Rutgers. Siena is 7-4 with losses to Temple and St. John's, before they came on the big stage. Niagara has been the best out of these three with an 8-4 record. They lost some games early to Aubrun and Austin Peay, but their star guard, Tyrone Lewis, had been out with a leg injury.

Luckily for the MAAC, Fairfield has emerged has a strong mid-major, along with Iona who went 8-3 in non-conference play. Iona almost picked up wins against Florida State and Baylor. The Manhattan Jaspers have been streaky this year. At one point, they had looked like a potential contender for coming in the Top 3 of the MAAC when they had won four out of five. Loyola has struggled, but they have a big win over Indiana. 

15. WAC (Louisiana Tech, Nevada, Utah State) 70-43 (61.9 %)

Nevada and Utah State both had their chances to possibly enter the Top 25, but both failed to do so. Louisiana Tech, now 12-2, is the best team in WAC.

16. MAC (Akron, Ohio, Buffalo) 67-70 (48.9 %)

Akron has emerged as a top mid-major this year to lead the conference. Ohio, Buffalo, and Kent State have also picked up their share of wins. This conference has big weak spots with their bottom three teams compiling a 8-27 record.

17. Southern (Western Carolina, Charleston, App. State) 61-72 (45.9 %)

The SoCon is much weaker than it has been the past few years. Davidson has been significantly worse with the absence of Stephen Curry and Charleston has not been the same as last year, although most of their players are returning.

However, Western Carolina is one of the top mid-major schools this year, and has saved this conference. If it were not for Elon (3-9), UNC Greensboro (3-9), and Georgia Southern (3-11), this conference be filled with teams that have about .500 records, plus Western Carolina.

18. Big Sky (Northern Colorado, Montana, Montana State) 43-53 (44.8 %)

The Big Sky has improved this year, following a year where they were one of the worst conferences. This year, Northern Colorado and Montana are both teams that could potentially pull of an NCAA tournament upset. The rest of the teams in the conference are around .500, except for Eastern Washington and Idaho State, who compile a combined 7-20 record.

19. Ivy League (Cornell, Harvard, Princeton) 36-52 (40.9 %)

The Ivy League is weak this year except for two teams—Cornell (10-2) and Harvard (9-3). Two of Harvard's three losses are to Georgetown and in a close game against Connecticut. Their third loss came on the road to Army. The Crimson are 6-0 on their home floor.

Cornell, the preseason favorite for an Ivy League Championship, has won eight straight games, including a Holiday Festival Championship.

Aside from these two schools, Princeton is the only other respectable school at 6-4. The rest of the conference is miserable, with Dartmouth and Penn being two of the worst teams in the country.

20. Sun Belt (South Alabama, Western Kentucky, Denver) 66-75 (46.8 %)

The Sun Belt has struggled this year because, although they have a few solid teams, the rest of their conference is terrible. South Alabama and Denver are each 9-4, with North Texas at 8-4. Western Kentucky is 6-4, with a high RPI. The only other team that is above .500 in the Sun Belt is Arkansas State, at 6-5.

21. Big West (Pacific, Long Beach State, UC Riverside) 45-47 (49.5 %)

Although the Big West does not have any exceptionally good teams, almost all of the schools are around .500. Luckily for the Big West, they have a high conference RPI, ranked at No. 19.

22. Ohio Valley (Murray State, Austin Peay, Eastern Kentucky) 47-55 (46.1 %)

The Ohio Valley was saved a little by having a high RPI (21). Both Murray State and Austin Peay have RPI rankings in the Top 80. Aside from Murray State and Austin Peay, the OVC is pretty weak, but depending on how the OVC plays out, it has the potential to be a two bid conference.

23. Summit League (IUPUI, Oral Roberts, Oakland) 49-58 (45.8 %)

IUPUI is the best team in the Summit League, but their best wins are over Duquesne and Austin Peay, so it is hard to tell how good they actually are. The only other big win for the conference is Oral Roberts over New Mexico. 

24. Southland (Sam Houston State, Texas-SA, Stephen F Austin) 69-69 (50.0 %)

The Southland has three solid teams in Sam Houston State, Texas San Antonio, and Stephen F Austin. The problem is that the Southland has a horrible RPI rank at 28.

25. America East (Vermont, Stony Brook, Boston University) 44-68 (39.3 %)

Vermont, Boston University, and Binghamton were supposed to be three good mid-major schools in a battle for the America East Title.

But then Binghamton got caught in a scandal, losing almost all their players, and have been atrocious this year. Boston U has not been what they were supposed to be and Vermont, who was supposed to be at the bottom of these three, has emerged as the top school, and the only good squad, in the America East.

26. Atlantic Sun (Belmont, Campbell, Lipscomb) 37-65 (36.3 %)

In past years, the Atlantic Sun has been able to give battles to good teams in the NCAA tournament. So far this year, Lipscomb has played close with Arizona, Campbell played close with Virginia Tech, Florida Gulf Coast beat Depaul, and Jacksonville beat Central Florida. 

Although the Atlantic Sun has fallen short in most games against top competition, they have still beaten a few good teams. Because of the losses, they are ranked lower than they could have been, but since they have still played very well overall, they are being placed against some conferences that have been winning more games. 

27. Big South (Coastal Carolina, Radford, Winthrop) 43-60 (41.7 %)

Aside from Coastal Carolina, the Big South has not been able to win games. Radford, the only other team above .500 besides Coastal Carolina, has a winning record for one reason, and that is Artsiom Parakhouski.

If Coastal Carolina was not in this conference, it would possibly be the worst the conference aside from the SWAC.

28. MEAC (Morgan State, Bethune Cookman, NC A&T) 38-81 (31.9 %)

The MEAC already has four teams with 10 or more losses, and only three teams from the MEAC are above .500 (Morgan State, South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman). Morgan State is the only respectable team from the MEAC, led by one of the nation's leading scorers, Reggie Holmes.

It is hard to tell if South Carolina State has the potential to be good because they got crushed by Miami and Iowa, but then played Clemson to the buzzer. Bethune-Cookman does not deserve to be .500. Three of their seven wins are against Division II schools, and two of them are against Independents.

29. Patriot League (Army, Lafayette, Lehigh) 38-64 (37.3 %)

The Patriot League used to be a fun league to watch because of Holy Cross, American, and occasionally Bucknell. Now, they have become boring and bad. Army is the best team at 9-3, but they have no impressive wins.

American and Holy Cross, the typical top two teams from the Patriot League, have combined for a 4-21 start this season. Also, Colgate is 1-10.

The Patriot League has the weakest SOS.

30. Great West (South Dakota, Utah Valley, Chicago State) 26-65 (28.6 %)

Still in its first year of existence, the Great West has separated from its fellow independents and shown improvement. Although North Dakota, Texas Pan-American, and Houston Baptist combine for five wins and over 30 losses, South Dakota and Utah Valley have both been flirting with .500. Overall, this conference is better than the other independents.

31. Northeast (Sacred Heart, Long Island, Robert Morris) 32-90 (26.2 %)

The NEC is absolutely miserable this year. Sacred Heart is the only team above .500 at 8-4. Fairleigh Dickinson, Wagner, and Bryant combine for three wins and 37 losses.

32. Independents (Seattle, Savannah State, Longwood) 23-68 (25.3 %)

Seattle is the only respectable independent this year. Led by Charles Garcia, the Redhawks are 6-8. Winston-Salem, North Carolina Central, Longwood, Cal State Bakersfield, and SIU-Edwardsville compile a 11-52 record.

The Independents have the worst conference RPI.

33. SWAC (Prarie View A&M, Alabama A&M, Texas Southern) 22-88 (20.0 %)

Last, and most certainly least, is the SWAC. Alcorn State is most likely the worst team in college basketball. Up until Wednesday night, they had lost every game 15, most of their losses being by much more. On Wednesday night, they played their first home game and only lost to Central Michigan by four.

The SWAC has five teams with at least 10 losses. Not one team is an even .500. 

Two teams are winless (Alcorn State and Arkansas Pine Bluff), and Alabama State and Mississippi Valley State do not have any wins against Division I teams.

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