This article will rank how well all the conferences have done during non-conference play. I ranked the conferences based on the balance of the conference, the number of dominant teams in the conference, and the conference's performance during non-conference play, including out of conference win percentage and RPI.
The top three teams in each conference are determined by RPI.
Rank. Conference (Top Three Teams), Non-Conference Record (Winning Percentage)
1. Big Ten (Purdue, Ohio State, Minnesota), 106-26 (80.3)
The Big East gives the Big Ten a good fight, but the Big Ten is ultimately the best conference in college basketball. The Big Ten currently has five teams in the AP Top 25. Also, the Big Ten has the best balance from top to bottom of any conference in college basketball.
With Ohio State and Purdue, the Big Ten has two very legitimate national title contenders. Ohio State has dominated its opponents to this point and Purdue has only lost one game despite being without Robbie Hummel.
Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota are also very strong teams. Michigan State has already lost four games, but all four losses have been against Top 25 teams. The Spartans have partially compensated for those losses with two wins over Top 25 teams.
Illinois hit a low point of the season with a loss to Illinois-Chicago. If this loss were removed, Illinois would have a very strong resume with wins over Maryland, North Carolina and Gonzaga.
Wisconsin and Minnesota were both strong in non-conference play. Minnesota has looked weak so far in Big Ten play, but luckily for the Big Ten, these rankings do not factor in conference play.
The Big Ten also has a pair of strong unranked teams in Northwestern and Michigan. Both teams are struggling for key wins, but both teams have put together strong records with fairly high RPIs.
2. Big East (Georgetown, Syracuse, Connecticut), 152-39 (79.6)
The Big East beats the Big Ten in number of dominant teams but not in balance. The Big East dominates the AP Top 25 with seven teams in the national rankings. The conference has five teams in the top nine. However, the Big East has its weak points outside of the nationally-ranked teams.
Marquette and Cincinnati are both solid, but the rest of the conference has not performed the way it has to in order to beat out the Big Ten.
St. John's has struggled compared to the preseason expectations. The Red Storm have lost to both Saint Bonaventure and Fordham and their only strong OOC win is against Northwestern.
The bottom half of the Big East is near terrible for a Big Six conference. Without Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall is no threat to the nation's top teams. Rutgers has a good 9-3 record, but the Scarlet Knights have struggled against good competition. Similarly to Rutgers, Providence has an impressive 11-3 record. However, the Friars best OOC win was over Alabama.
And lastly, DePaul and South Florida are terrible. Both teams have been beaten by mediocre mid-majors and will most likely stand no chance in Big East play.
3. Big 12 (Kansas, Kansas State, Texas), 117-32 (78.5)
The Big 12 houses five teams in the AP Top 25. Out of those five teams, the Big 12 has Baylor as a strong team. Oklahoma State is close to being another very strong team out of the Big 12, but the Cowboys are not quite there.
The Big 12 has three teams in the top 13 with Kansas, Missouri and Texas. Kansas is one of the best in the country at 12-0. The Jayhawks dominated their OOC competition and do not seem to be letting up. Although the Jayhawks have only played one game against a Top 25 team, they have beaten other good teams such as Arizona, UCLA, USC and California.
Missouri has wreaked havoc for some teams this season. The Tigers have dominated their lower competition and have fared well against strong teams. The Tigers are 1-1 against the Top 25, with a win over Illinois and an overtime loss to Georgetown.
Texas is 2-1 against the Top 25 and has a big game against Connecticut in early January. The Longhorns looked poor in a 17-point loss to UNC, but wins over Illinois and Michigan State have shown that they could be the real deal.
The bottom of the Big 12 is weak to the point of almost being like DePaul and South Florida.
Iowa State and Nebraska have put together strong records, but both teams played a low level of competition. Iowa State's best win is over Virginia and Nebraska's only good win is over USC.
Below them are Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Colorado looked OK with a win over Indiana, but Oklahoma and Texas Tech are pathetic for a Big-Six conference. Together, they are 0-7 against Big Six teams.
4. Mountain West (Brigham Young, San Diego State, UNLV), 83-30 (73.5)
A few weeks ago, the Mountain West might have even beat out the Big 12 for the No. 3 spot. The bottom of the MWC is much improved compared to the past few years. A few weeks ago, San Diego State, Brigham Young and UNLV had been destroying all of their competition.
However, UNLV hit a rough patch and BYU picked up a loss. San Diego State is the only of the three that has remained undefeated to this point. Despite these minor falls in the top teams of the conference, the MWC is still able to beat out three other Big Six conferences.
It is impossible to ignore that San Diego State, Brigham Young and UNLV are all going to be NCAA Tournament teams and all have a chance of making a run when March comes around.
In addition to these three, there is also New Mexico. The Lobos do not have any strong OOC wins, but they help out their record by seemingly never losing on their home floor.
Colorado State has improved since last year and has a solid OOC win over Southern Mississippi. The Rams are 10-3.
One of the most impressive aspects of the MWC is that there are no teams below .500. The worst teams by record are Utah and Wyoming at 7-7.
5. SEC (Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida), 107-43 (71.3)
The SEC was looking to have a dominant year in college basketball with Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida. However, Tennessee and Florida hit some non-conference road bumps, leaving Kentucky as the only Top 25 team in the SEC.
However, Tennessee and Florida are still solid, plus the SEC has solid balance. In the SEC East, there are no truly bad teams. Kentucky leads the pack with Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt right behind. Georgia and South Carolina are in the rear, but even both of them have solid OOC wins.
Where the SEC is hurt is in the SEC West. The fact that Arkansas and Mississippi are the favorites in that division is sad. Mississippi State is in the middle of the pack and then there are some truly awful teams with Auburn and LSU, and maybe even Alabama. These teams that seem to be unable to beat struggling mid-majors are the teams that hurt the SEC's stock.
6. ACC (Duke, North Carolina, Boston College), 105-44 (70.5)
Everyone knew the ACC was heading into a down year. Aside from the Duke I would not consider any other ACC team as a dominant team. There are still a bunch of other very good teams but no dominant teams.
Florida State, Boston College, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Maryland and Miami (FL) all fall into that category, which helps the ACC from slipping to a lower ranking.
Florida State finally added a strong OOC win with a win over Baylor in the Diamond Head Classic. The Seminoles finished in third place in Hawaii.
Boston College built up its non-conference resume with a third place finish in the Old Spice Classic.
North Carolina quickly fell out of the Top 25 at the start of the year, but an OOC win over Kentucky shows the the Tar Heels have talent.
After that, the ACC struggles with the bottom half containing Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. All three teams struggled in non-conference play and greatly hurt the ACC's stock.
7. C-USA (Central Florida, Memphis, UAB), 92-43 (68.1)
Central Florida has been a difference maker for C-USA this season. C-USA was supposed to have Memphis and only Memphis this year. Central Florida's entrance into the Top 25 changed those thoughts.
At this point in the season, both Central Florida and Memphis are in the Top 25 and combine for a 23-2 record.
In addition to UCF and Memphis, there are also UTEP, UAB, and Southern Mississippi.
UTEP is 10-3 with a win over Michigan, UAB is 10-2 with wins over Arkansas and VCU and Southern Mississippi is 11-2 with a win over California.
After that, C-USA has a bunch of other solid teams. No team in C-USA is below .500.
8. Atlantic 10 (Temple, Rhode Island, Xavier), 98-71 (59.2)
The Atlantic 10 is not as good as it was last year, but it is still a very strong conference that will be sending multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament.
The A-10 has only three teams with a losing record. These teams are La Salle, St. Joseph's and Saint Louis. All three of these teams are still mediocre.
Dayton, Richmond, Xavier, Temple and Rhode Island are all very strong and picked up some good OOC wins.
Although the top of the A-10 is a little weaker than it was last year, the bottom has picked up some of the slack. Last year Fordham was absolutely terrible. This year the Rams are 6-6 with a win over St. John's.
9. CAA (Old Dominion, Drexel, James Madison), 77-53 (60.4)
The CAA has been the best mid-major conference this year. Drexel, George Mason, VCU, Old Dominion and James Madison are all very strong mid-majors and have been able to compete with some of the top teams in the country.
After that strong group, the rest of the conference has solid balance. There are a few struggling teams with Towson, Northeastern, and William & Mary, but the rest of the conference stands at about .500.
This could definitely be a year in which the CAA gets multiple teams into the NCAA Tournament.
10. Horizon League (Cleveland State, Butler, Valparaiso), 58-45 (56.3)
Butler was supposed to be the only truly good team in the Horizon League. However, Cleveland State and Valparaiso have supported Butler to make the Horizon League one of the top mid-major conferences.
Aside from those three strong teams, the Horizon League also had Loyola (Ill.) put together a 9-2 non-conference record, and both Detroit and Wright State were solid in non-conference play.
11. Pacific 10 (Arizona, Washington, California), 76-40 (65.5)
The Pacific 10 has definitely improved since last year. However, the Pac-10 is not where it had been just a few years ago as a dominant conference.
Arizona and Washington are both looking like NCAA Tournament teams, but the rest of the conference is questionable.
Oregon State and Oregon are two of the worst Big Six teams, both picking up terrible OOC losses to Seattle and Idaho, respectively.
UCLA, California, Washington State and UCLA were all solid in non-conference play, but none of them were too impressive.
12. Missouri Valley (Wichita State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa), 64-41 (61.0)
As usual, the Missouri Valley has a couple of strong mid-majors. Wichita State and Missouri State have been very strong as expected.
In addition, Creighton, Northern Iowa and Illinois State put together good OOC records and are also looking like potentially top mid-majors.
The MVC strongly benefits from its balance. Every team in the conference can put up a good fight against a good team, as shown with Evansville's win over Butler.
13. WCC (St. Mary's, Portland, Gonzaga), 51-54 (48.6)
As usual, the WCC is putting together a strong year and could get multiple teams into the NCAA Tournament. St. Mary's, Portland and Gonzaga are all top mid-majors, and San Diego is the only truly bad team in the WCC.
St. Mary's and Portland have been strong all year, each with 12 wins.
Gonzaga was a Top 25 team to start the season, but faltered early. However, the Bulldogs had a very strong second half of December to show that they still could be the real deal.
14. WAC (Utah State, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech), 51-45 (53.1)
The WAC is led by Utah State. The Aggies went 11-2 in non-conference play with wins over a couple of strong teams. After Utah State, the WAC does not have any other strong teams.
However, the conference has very good balance.
The majority of the conference had winning records in non-conference play, and the teams that struggled in non-conference play were not as bad as the records show.
15. MAC (Kent State, Ball State, Akron), 54-72 (42.9)
The MAC has some strong mid-majors. Kent State is one of the top mid-majors in the country. Aside from Kent State, the MAC is also home to Akron, Buffalo, Ball State and Ohio. All five are solid mid-majors, leading to good balance in the conference.
The MAC hits its weak point in the bottom of the MAC West. Central Michigan, Toledo and Eastern Michigan are all some of the worst teams in the country.
16. SoCon (Davidson, Furman, Charleston), 36-75 (32.4)
The SoCon has solid balance and a very strong mid-major with Charleston. However, the conference has a poor RPI, ranked at No. 21. Aside from Charleston, the SoCon struggled to pick up good OOC wins, and that hurts the conference's rankings.
The SoCon had a chance to be one of the top mid-major conferences with both Wofford and Charleston having good teams, but Wofford struggled in non-conference play.
17. Ivy League (Princeton, Harvard, Yale), 46-46 (50.0)
Last year the Ivy League was a top mid-major conference with Harvard and Cornell. This year, the Ivy League is still a mediocre conference. Harvard and Princeton are both strong mid-majors, but neither is as good as last year's Harvard or Cornell.
Princeton is 10-4 with wins over Rutgers and Tulsa. Three of the Tigers' four losses have come by single digits and the other was a double-digit loss to No. 1 Duke.
Harvard is 9-3 with a mediocre win over Colorado. Harvard can pick up another key OOC win in a game at Boston College in the first week of January.
Since last year, Cornell has dropped tremendously. The Big Red are currently 3-9.
Columbia, Yale, Brown and Penn are still very mediocre, although they are improving The only strong OOC win from that group is Yale's win over Boston College.
18. Summit (Oakland, IPFW, South Dakota State), 35-56 (38.5)
The Summit is better than its record. Oakland is only 9-8, but the Golden Grizzlies have played close with many good teams and beat Tennessee.
IPFW and IUPUI are also solid. IPFW beat a few good mid-majors this year and almost won at Xavier. IUPUI also had a few mediocre OOC wins and was able to play close with Ohio State.
The conference's record also takes a big hit from Centenary. As a school that is transitioning out of Division I, Centenary is pretty much accepting a poor season in which it might not win a game. The Gentlemen's 0-15 record really kills the conference.
19. MAAC (Iona, Siena, Rider), 45-62 (42.1)
The only strong mid-major in the MAAC is Iona. The Gaels are 8-5 with a win over Richmond. After Iona, Rider and Fairfield are mediocre and the rest of the conference is simply bad.
The MAAC houses three of the worst teams in college basketball with Niagara, Manhattan and Marist. Mid-major powerhouse Siena has fallen down and is far from getting back up.
20. Northeast (Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, Wagner), 49-77 (38.9)
The Northeast Conference is having a strong year relative to where it has been in the past. Quinnipiac and Long Island are both solid mid-majors, and St. Francis (NY) and Wagner are both improving.
After Quinnipiac and Long Island, the rest of the conference is mediocre.
21. Big West (Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, Pacific), 29-59 (33.0)
The Big West has an unimpressive record but a strong RPI. The teams of the Big West have played a bunch of other high-caliber teams and have managed to escape with a few good wins.
22. Atlantic Sun (Lipscomb, Belmont, East Tennessee State), 38-64 (37.3)
The Atlantic Sun has a few solid mid-majors. Belmont, Jacksonville and Lipscomb have all played well against some good competition and stand with fairly high RPIs. Although the Atlantic Sun has three strong teams, the bottom half of the conference really hurts the value of the Atlantic Sun.
Stetson, USC Upstate, Florida Gulf Coast, Mercer and Kennesaw State combine for an 11-39 non-conference record.
23. America East (Vermont, Maine, Boston), 40-66 (37.7)
Aside from Vermont, the America East Conference has nobody good. Luckily for the conference, Vermont is one of the top mid-major schools and has an outstanding RPI for a small school.
24. Southland (Nicholls State, Sam Houston State, Texas A&M C.C.), 34-72 (32.1)
The Southland has no strong teams, but the conference has solid overall balance. There are no absolutely terrible teams, but there are also no very talented teams.
25. Big Sky (Northern Arizona, Montana, Weber State), 30-54 (35.7)
The Big Sky falls in just behind the Southland. The Big Sky has one somewhat strong team in Montana, but aside from the Grizzlies, the rest of the conference is fairly poor.
The Big Sky's stock falls behind the Southland mainly due to Eastern Washington, Idaho State and Sacramento State. These three teams really struggled in non-conference play and combined for only three OOC wins against D-I opponents.
26. Ohio Valley (Murray State, Austin Peay, Morehead State), 21-61 (25.6)
There was some talk of the Ohio Valley even being a two-bid league at the start of the season. At this point, there is just about no chance of that happening. Murray State and Morehead State have had some struggles after high preseason expectations were set.
Murray State and Morehead State have remained solid, and Austin Peay has added some support. However, after those three, the conference is struggling. No other teams have a winning record.
27. Sun Belt (North Texas, Florida Atlantic, Arkansas-Little Rock), 50-83 (37.6)
The Sun Belt has one strong mid-major in North Texas. After North Texas, the conference struggles. Arkansas-Little Rock and Florida Atlantic were mediocre in non-conference play, and the rest of the conference was near terrible.
North Texas' success is what keeps the Sun Belt from sliding any farther down in the rankings.
28. Patriot League (American, Bucknell, Lehigh), 39-65 (37.5)
The Patriot League is split into two sections. There are four teams that are mediocre mid-majors and there are four teams that are terrible.
American, Lehigh, Bucknell and Army make up the first half. American is 9-5 with wins over a few solid mid-majors. Lehigh is solid at 8-6 and Army and Bucknell are simply mediocre.
The bottom half is made up of Lafayette, Navy, Holy Cross and Colgate. Altogether, these four teams combine for 41 losses.
29. Big South (Coastal Carolina, Presbyterian, Winthrop), 28-50 (35.9)
Coastal Carolina is the only strong member of the Big South. After the Chanticleers, the Big South does not have any other impressive teams.
The Big South even has a few teams that struggle to compete at the D-I level. The rest of the conference is so poor that even Coastal Carolina's success is not enough to pull up the value of the conference.
30. Independents (Cal State Bakersfield, North Carolina Central, Chicago State), 22-64 (25.6)
Cal State Bakersfield is the difference maker that puts the Independents ahead of the MEAC. Cal State Bakersfield is 8-5 with a solid win over San Jose State.
North Carolina Central has also been solid for the Independents, at 5-6.
31. MEAC (Hampton, Delaware State, North Carolina A&T), 22-78 (20.0)
Aside from Hampton, the MEAC is terrible. Nobody, including Hampton, had any impressive non-conference wins. The MEAC has no teams in the top 100 RPI.
Pretty much everything about this conference is unimpressive.
32. Great West (South Dakota, Utah Valley, North Dakota), 13-61 (17.6)
In its first year of existence, the Great West has been nothing special. Only one team has a win percentage above 50 percent. Utah Valley has been mediocre. After that, the conference is practically a disaster.
33. SWAC (Alabama A&M, Texas Southern, Alabama State), 7-94 (6.9)
There is nothing to say other than the world of the SWAC is a very sad world. There is no team in the conference with a winning percentage greater than 33.3 percent. There are only three teams (Grambling, Texas Southern, and Jackson State) with multiple wins over D-I schools. It seems as though the SWAC loses with every opportunity it gets.
Good luck getting a team into the NCAA Tournament that is not in a play-in game!
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