College Basketball: Which Conference Is the Best?

Andrew LangeContributor IApril 9, 2008

I’m sure everyone has long heard debate over what conference is the greatest. Most of you have probably even joined in those debates to talk about which conferences are over-rated and under-rated.  

The point of this article is to get some hard numbers out there to compare the major conferences in Tournament competition. You will notice that I don’t care what seed you are in either tournament, the point is if you’re in either the NCAA tournament or the NIT, you’re playing against teams at the same level as you.

Why is the NIT important? I know that most of you probably don’t care about the NIT. Guess what, I don’t care about you. I’m writing the article, and I think it’s important so it’s included.

The NIT is important because it provides an idea of middle competition. Is the conference well balanced, or is the conference full of bottom feeders that the top few teams feed off of? That’s why the NIT is included in this article. 

Enough of the introduction, it’s time for some numbers. Enjoy

NCAA Tournament 

Baylor – Big 12 – 0-1

Kansas – Big 12 – 6-0

Kansas St. – Big 12 – 1-1

Oklahoma – Big 12 – 1-1

Texas – Big 12 – 3-1

Texas A&M – Big 12 – 1-1

Big 12 Aggregate = 12-5

Connecticut – Big East – 0-1

Georgetown – Big East – 1-1

Louisville – Big East – 3-1

Marquette – Big East – 1-1

Notre Dame – Big East – 1-1

Pittsburgh – Big East – 1-1

Villanova – Big East – 2-1

West Virginia – Big East – 2-1

Big East Aggregate = 11-8

Arizona – Pac 10 – 0-1

Oregon – Pac 10 – 0-1

Washington State – Pac 10 – 2-1

Stanford – Pac 10 – 2-1

UCLA – Pac 10 – 4-1

Southern California – Pac 10 – 0-1

Pac 10 Aggregate = 8-6

Duke – ACC – 1-1

Clemson – ACC – 0-1

Miami (Fla.) – ACC – 1-1

North Carolina – ACC – 4-1

ACC Aggregate = 6-4

Indiana – Big Ten – 0-1

Michigan State – Big Ten – 2-1

Purdue – Big Ten – 1-1

Wisconsin – Big Ten – 2-1

Big Ten Aggregate = 5-4

Arkansas – SEC – 1-1

Georgia – SEC – 0-1

Kentucky – SEC – 0-1

Mississippi St. – SEC – 1-1

Tennessee – SEC – 2-1

Vanderbilt – SEC – 0-1

SEC Aggregate = 4-6


Ohio St. – Big 10 – 5-0

Minnesota – Big Ten – 0-1

Big 10 Aggregate = 5-1

Mississippi – SEC – 3-1

Florida – SEC – 3-1

SEC Aggregate = 6-2

Syracuse – Big East – 2-1

Big East Aggregate = 2-1

California – Pac 10 – 1-1

Arizona St. – Pac 10 – 2-1

Pac 10 Aggregate = 3-2

Virginia Tech – ACC – 2-1

Florida St. – ACC – 0-1

Maryland – ACC – 1-1

ACC Aggregate = 3-3

Nebraska – Big 12 – 1-1

Oklahoma St. – Big 12 – 0-1

Big 12 Aggregate = 1-2

Conferences totals 

Big 12 = 13-7 = 65%, 3.5 average place

Big East = 13-9 = 59%, 2.5 average place

Pac 10 = 11-8 = 58%, 3.5 average place

Big Ten = 10-5 = 67%, 3 average place

ACC = 9-7 = 56%, 4.5 average place

SEC = 10-8 = 56%, 4 average place

The Big 12

Clearly the Big 12 is the best conference this year. With Kansas taking the National Title by beating UNC and Memphis in the final four it’s hard to disagree. Texas also added to the Big 12’s record in the Tournament. The Big 12 did not perform well in the NIT, but I can’t dock them too much for that as 50% of their conference was in the big dance.

The Big East

Many people feel the Big East deserves to be in first for this discussion. I disagree for a few reasons. Like the Big 12 they also got 50% of their conference in the tournament, but they only had 1 of 16 teams in the NIT, and no final four appearances in either tournament. 3 teams in the Big East made it to the Elite 8 in the two tournaments, but all teams failed to win. 2nd place goes to the Big East.

The Pac 10

I long debated if the Pac 10 or the Big 10 should receive 3rd place. If the decision was solely based on teams, I think that the Pac 10 would be here. If you compare UCLA, Stanford, and Washington St. against Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan St. I feel as though the teams are fairly close, and it would actually be a fascinating 9 game round robin tournament.

However, this list is based on tournament performance, so what it boiled down to was UCLA’s final four run, or Ohio St.’s NIT Championship. In my mind 4 wins in the NCAA Tournament is more impressive then 5 wins in the NIT, so congrats to the Pac 10 on 3rd place. 

The Big Ten

Well, for starters, why is the Big Ten written out, and the Pac 10 isn’t? That just doesn’t make any sense at all. The Big Ten had a little bit of a down year this year. Wisconsin exited the tournament a little early which was disappointing, and Ohio St. missed the Big Dance for the first time in awhile. Still, with 2 sweet 16 appearances, and Ohio St.’s NIT Championship the Big Ten lands 4th on this list.


This probably wouldn’t be expected very often. The ACC had a big down year, failing to really do anything that was expected of them. Anything less then a National Championship for UNC was going to be a disappointment, and after an exit in the final four they disappointed. Still, UNC was the only bright spot in the ACC as Duke and Clemson got rocked in the NCAA Tournament despite their extremely generous seeds. Virginia Tech even got bounced from the NIT in the Elite 8 from their number 1 seed. 5th place belongs to The ACC.


Well, after back to back Championships what can you expect? No one from the SEC did any good in the NCAA Tournament. After Tennessee beat Memphis during the regular season they were probably considered one of the favorites for the National Championship. However, after sneaking by under-seeded Butler in the 2nd round, they got knocked out by Louisville in the sweet 16. A pair of final four appearances in the NIT for the SEC, but neither team made the finals. A down year for the SEC lands them in 6th place.

Feel free to comment your own lists of what you think. I’m going by wins when they matter, in the tournaments.


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