Watch Out, SEC. The Mountain West is Breathing Down Your Neck.

Posted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2008

You may recall last week that we looked at how the power conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10, SEC) were doing halfway through the non-conference schedule this year.  We generally concluded that the ACC and Big East are currently at the top of the heap, and the SEC in particular should be booted out of the group.

What Mid-Majors Play For

What Mid-Majors Play For

But what about the mid-majors?  As important as the non-conference slate is for the BCS schools in terms of seeding and whether five or six teams are invited to the Big Dance, it’s even more important to the mid-majors who are fighting for simply a second or third bid and assuredly will see their conference RPIs drop once conference season begins.  So today we take a look at evaluating the mid-majors’ performance thus far, keeping in mind the dual criteria for success that we established last week – considerable success against your peers and domination of your subordinates.  We’ll add a third criterion for these mid-majors, which is a reasonable showing against your superiors (the power conference schools) as well.  So let’s take a look at the W/L numbers thus far (through 12.11.08):

mid-majors-h2h-121108

It seems clear to us right off the bat that the Mountain West (ranked #7 by both Sagarin and Pomeroy) has the best overall profile thus far.  While it has struggled with its BCS record (.214), its measure in that category is only significantly worse than two conferences – the A10 (.355) and the WCC (.411) – in that regard.  But the MWC has absolutely dominated its peer conferences (.704) and its underlings (.900) as if it were a power onference-lite (watch yourselves, SEC).  It’s overall non-conference record is also outstanding for a mid-major, at 49-22 (.690), bettering its peers by a considerable margin (#2 - Missouri Valley - .583).

For the next best mid-major conference, we’re split between the Missouri Valley, Atlantic 10 and Conference  USA.  The A10 has a solid 11-20 (.355) record against the big boys, whereas the MVC (.176) and CUSA (.263) do not, but the MVC has performed significantly better against its peers (.583 vs. .357/.500, respectively).  All three conferences have pretty well owned their subordinates this year.  So how to distinguish the three?  Let’s go with the top-heavy theory.  According to Sagarin, the A10 has six teams in the top 100, the MVC has five, and CUSA has four.  Good enough for us.

mid-major-licious-2

There’s a pretty clear delineation between these top four mid-majors and the others – WCC, Horizon, MAC, WAC, Colonial, but we’re not going to try to distinguish from among this group because it’s largely too close to call based on the above data.  As it currently stands, it will be a struggle for any of these five conferences to put a second team into the NCAA Tournament this year (St. Mary’s needs to keep that in mind).  Nevertheless, we do want to point out a few interesting observations that we had along the way.

  • The MAC is 0-16 against power conference schools.  You’re not going to be a mid-major very long playing like that.  The Colonial is barely any better.
  • The WCC is a respectable 7-10 against the power conferences, but lays an egg against the low-majors (9-12).  We have to believe this shows just how top-heavy this conference is (w/ Gonzaga and St. Mary’s).
  • The Horizon needs to play more games against D1 opponents – we can’t believe they’ve only played 12 games against the low majors (6-6).

We’ll check back in on this when we get to the end of the non-conference schedule, because at that point with few exceptions, conference positions are relatively static.

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Statistically Confirming the SEC is Garbage

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2008

During the nonconference portion of the season we can use the cross-pollination among the BCS teams as well as their games against the mid-majors as an early warning system of sorts to determine which conferences are the strongest in a given year.  Last year the Pac-10, for example, got off to a strong start, and by and large that conference was considered the best in the nation throughout most of the 2007-08 season.

Believe it or not, we’re already one-quarter of the way through the regular season (and halfway through the nonconference slate), so we have plenty of raw data to start making those determinations.  From what we see thus far, it appears that there are three grades of power conferences, with the ACC & Big East at the top, the Big 10 and Big 12 in the middle, and the Pac-10 and SEC pulling up the rear.  For confirmation, take a look at the table below.

conf-h2h-1205081

Data Source:  basketballstate.com

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Mid Major H2H (thru 11.19.07)

Posted by rtmsf on November 20th, 2007

After yesterday’s analysis of the BCS conferences to date, we thought it would be worth a quick look to see how the eight mid-major leagues are doing so far.

Mid Major H2H

Data Source: www.basketballstate.com

Thoughts:

  • The Mountain West has gotten off to the best start, going 9-2 against the BCS and mid-major leagues (and 25-4 overall). The only other league with a winning record against the BCS/MM is the Missouri Valley at 6-5.
  • The CAA, WCC and WAC need to get their acts together and win a game against a BCS team (combined 0-15). The WCC and WAC in particular are really struggling, both having losing records against the other mids and barely above .500 against the lows.
  • CUSA has the most BCS wins, but two of the three belong to Memphis (Tulane beating Auburn is the other).
  • Realizing that fortuitous scheduling accounts for any distinctions this early, we’d rank the mids as such at this point: 1) MWC, 2) MVC, 3) CUSA, 4) A10, 5) Horizon, 6) CAA, 7) WAC, 8 ) WCC.

Update: while compiling this list, the WCC had a huge upset with St. Mary’s knocking off #9 Oregon tonight. Obviously, that will change their status from eighth place among the mid-majors next time.

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