Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The second full week of Big 12 conference play only further reinforced what most college basketball analysts and aficionados already knew – the Big 12 conference is the premier college basketball conference in Division 1 in 2014-15.  Just a few nuggets that attest to that fact:

Six (6) Big 12 teams are currently ranked in the AP and USA Today Top 25 polls, respectively; no other conference has more than five (5), which is the ACC. (Oklahoma State is the first school under “Others Receiving Votes” in the AP poll.) The Big Ten has 4/3 (AP/USA Today) Top 25 teams, followed by the PAC 12 (2/3); the Atlantic 10, Big East and Missouri Valley with 2/2 each; then the West Coast with 1/1 (Gonzaga). The SEC has just one ranked team – top rated Kentucky.

The Big 12 regained its spot this week from the Big East for the highest average RPI-rated conference. Below are the conference-by-conference average RPI rankings (not all conferences are shown):

Big 12 50.50

Big Ten 67.14

SEC 69.43

Atlantic 10 111.93

West Coast 135.6

Mountain West 154.55

The lowest rated school from the so-called Power 5 conferences? Virginia Tech at No. 207.Look at the gap between the Big 12/Big East and the Big Ten/ACC/SEC – a difference of 16 points (average of Big 12 and Big East compared against the average of the ACC, SEC and PAC 12). That is a substantial difference in terms of conference average RPI values.

  • Missouri Valley         146.20
  • American                     122.73
  • PAC 12                          74.25
  • ACC                                68.87
  • Big East                         54.00

The Big 12 finished with the highest out-of-conference mark of any other conference at 104-22 – an 82.5 percent winning percentage. Granted, some Big 12 schools feasted on grossly inferior opponents before conference play began (TCU foremost in that category), but practically every Power 5 school does that exact same thing, with a few exceptions. Some schools – including West Virginia – sprinkle in some meaningful non-conference games between the patsies to establish a solid RPI going into conference play. That strategy tends to pay off come tournament selection committee time, as the RPI of a team has fairly significant weight in determining whether a school gets into the tournament or not. (It isn’t THE determining factor, but to say it isn’t a significant factor is to ignore reality.)

The big match-up of the week was the Iowa State-Kansas game on Saturday in Ames, where the ESPN GameDay crew showed up Saturday morning.  ISU’s 5-point win over the conference’s perennial champion served notice that last year’s Big 12 tournament champion may well end up toppling the Jayhawks from their familiar perch as the regular season conference champ.



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