Sunday, March 13, 2011

Does Winning Conference Tournament Lead to NCAA Tournament Success?

There was a post on discussing a quote by Bill Self where he said "We really don't care about that; the NCAA Tourney is what really matters." I responded to that post responded that 7 out of the last 10 champions were Tourney Champs. First, as with any NCAA Tournament stat, I decided to verify it and found out that the answer was 6 out of 10.

2010 Duke Yes
2009 North Carolina No
2008 Kansas Yes
2007 Florida Yes
2006 Florida Yes
2005 North Carolina No
2004 Connecticut Yes
2003 Syracuse No
2002 Maryland No
2001 Duke Yes

I went a bit further to see if winning the conference tournament was correlated with getting to the final four. I found that out of the last 40 final four teams, 18 have won their conference tournament and 22 have been at-large teams. During 4 of those years, an at-large team made the final four the same year the tourney champ from the same conference made the final four. Those teams were:

2001: Maryland - At-L; Duke - Tourney Champ
2002: Kansas - At-L; Oklahoma - Tourney Champ
2005: Michigan St - At-L; Illinois - Tourney Champ
2006: LSU - At-L; Florida - Tourney Champ

So adjusting for these years, that leaves 18 at-larges and 18 tourney champs. In conclusion, winning the conference tournament has no correlation on whether a team will make it to the final four or not.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Top NCAA Tournament Conferences

As the Big East gets ready to enter a possible record 11 teams in the NCAA Tournament, I thought I would take a look back at how the various conferences have done in recent NCAA Tournament History. For recent, I choose a nice round number (2000). Since 2000, here are the conferences with the most wins in the tournament:

1. Big East 104
2. Big Twelve 97
3. ACC 96
4. Big Ten 92
5. SEC 74
6. Pac Ten 73

It is no surprise that the Big East has had the most wins. This is for two reasons. First, the Big East has 16 teams and because of that has more potential teams in the tournament each year. The second reason is that the Big East has been the best conference in recent history.

However, when we look at tournament win percentage, the story is a little different.

1. ACC .653
2. Big Twelve .618
3. Big Ten .613
4. Big East .608
5. Pac Ten .589
6. SEC .565

So although the Big East has been one of the best conferences, they haven't been the best overall tournament conference. When you get 7+ teams in every year, there are going to be some that lose in the first round which will make the win percentage lower.

Next is the number of Final Four appearances by Conference.

1. ACC 10
2. Big Ten 9
3. Big Twelve 6
Big East 6
5. SEC 4
Pac Ten 4

The ACC is the top conference again. The Big Ten is helped by Michigan State going to 5 Final Fours since 2000.

The Big Twelve is third, but they have had the most opportunities. Here is the number of Elite Eight appearances by Conferences.

1. Big Twelve 18
2. Big East 13
Big Ten 13
4. ACC 11
5. Pac Ten 10
6. SEC 9

And it hasn't been just one school in the Big Twelve that has been the source of those 18 appearances. The Big Twelve also leads with the most schools making an Elite Eight appearance since 2000 while the ACC has been dominated by just a few schools. Here is the number of schools making Elite Eight since 2000.

1. Big Twelve 8
2. Big East 7
3. Big Ten 6
4. SEC 5
Pac Ten 5
6. ACC 4

And finally the ultimate measure of success is number of championships. Here are the number of national championships by conference since 2000.

1. ACC 5
2. SEC 2
Big East 2
4. Big Twelve 1
Big Ten 1

In Summary, the tournament has been dominated by the Big 6 (BCS) Conferences since 2000. No team outside of those conferences has won a National Championship in that time frame although Memphis and Butler came very close. In addition, the SEC and Pacific Ten have performed well below the other four conferences in almost every category (except for Florida's two National Championships).