Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tourney Time: A Historical Look at the Conferences

March Madness is upon us and I thought it would be a good time to look at what the numbers say over the history of the NCAA tournament since it was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The first glance I will take is to compare wins and losses by the 6 power conferences and the group of teams belonging to other conferences, sometimes confusingly called mid-majors. The chart compares the winning percentage of each broken down by each particular round of the tournament. The number of appearances for each conference is shown in parantheses
A few observations:

1. Clicking on a conference in the color legend will highlight the results for the chosen conference. In general, winning percentage decreases as teams get deeper in the tournament, which is not surprising. There are a couple exceptions to this trend. For example, the Big 10 takes a big jump from the Sweet 16 to the Elite 8 and the SEC jumps to the head of the pack in the Final 4 and Championship rounds.

2. The power conferences have consistently outperformed the others in the First Round of the tournament, but the other conferences catch up to a degree as they get deeper, winning 6 of their 13 appearances in the Final Four.

3. Of the six power conferences, the Pac-12 is the worst performer in terms of both games played(252) and overall winning percentage(.567). A true comparison between the power conferences should probably take into consideration the number of bid opportunities, since there are differences in the number of teams in each conference through the years.

4. The ACC separates itself from the pack when comparing overall winning percentage, but that is mainly due to their high rate of success in the early rounds. They fall behind the Big 12 once they reach the Sweet 16.

5. The Big 12(which also includes teams from the SWC and Big 8 in the early years) takes the biggest jump from one round to the next, leading the pack in the Sweet 16(.604) and falling to the bottom(.394) in the next round.

Note: I ignored results from the Play-In rounds, which were just recently added to the tournament.

I'll take a look at head-to-head matchups in my next post.

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