Conference Rankings in College Basketball

As the college basketball season comes to a close, I’d like to reflect on some of the data from this year’s season. Like college football, which we cover here, there is constant debate as to which conference is the strongest year after year. Doing this process for college basketball lends itself to be much easier than college football. There are two main differences between the data sets. First, the shear number of contests in college basketball versus college football. Our data set has 5,472 Division 1 vs. Division 1 games in basketball compared to 1,519 in football. Second, there are significantly more out of conference games in basketball compared to football. As one can imagine, it’s hard to determine how good a conference is if most games are played within conference.

What Methods Will We Use

Similarly to college football I will again focus on two methods. Firstly, I will take a simple average of all the ratings which can be found at here. This, I believe, is the best approach as it treats every team evenly within the conference. For the second approach, we will take the average of the rank order for every team in Division 1. While the first approach is better, this is still a decent method that should get us a very similar answer.

Ranking the Top College Basketball Conferences

Here are the results from the 2021-2022 college basketball season using our both rating methods.
Top NCAAB Conferences
It is no surprise that the Big 12 was far and away the best conference in college basketball this year. Interestingly, the SEC, Big East and Big Ten were all very close in both analytic systems. The Atlantic Coast Conference followed in fifth place with the Pac-12 falling behind it in sixth.

Discussion and Other Analysis

The Massey Composite is another superb reference to check when analyzing top conferences. He takes the average rank order from every college basketball ranking system on the internet and combines it into one table. This year, there was unanimous agreement that the Big 12 was the top conference in college basketball. About half of the entries have the Big Ten as the 2nd best conference. Further, there was a lot of disagreement as to which conference is stronger between the SEC and the Big East. In the composite, the Big East did win out by a fraction.