College basketball conference power rankings 2023: Big 12 still No. 1, but Big Ten not far behind

BleedGopher

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How much does NCAA Tournament success matter in evaluating the pecking order of college basketball conferences? It's a question that must be pondered when ranking the performance of the sport's power six conferences from the 2022-23 season. Unlike in the 2021-22 campaign when the Big 12 ranked as our No. 1 conference after producing the national champion following a great regular season, things aren't so clear this time around.

The Big 12 enjoyed another excellent regular season but did not send a team to the 2023 Final Four. Also complicating the conference hierarchy are the contradictions of the Big Ten and the Big East. The Big Ten performed well in head-to-head matchups with the Big East, sent a larger percentage of its teams to the Big Dance and ranked 23.5 spots higher in average NET ranking at season's end.

However, a Big East team hoisted the national championship trophy on April 3 while the Big Ten's beefy NCAA Tournament contingent watched from home following yet another disappointing postseason performance for the conference. Elsewhere around the country, the SEC dropped one spot from last season while the ACC and Pac-12 continued bringing up the rear.

In our annual conference power rankings, we've combined a number of factors, incorporating the regular season, NCAA Tournament and overall talent to take a full snapshot of the conference landscape in college basketball from the 2022-23 season.

1. Big 12​

This season snapped the Big 12's streak of four straight NCAA Tournaments with a team in the Final Four, but the league had two Elite Eight teams in Kansas State and Texas. Their runs were enough to make it a respectable postseason for the conference after it clearly stood out above the pack during the regular season. With no truly abysmal teams — Oklahoma was the league's worst-ranked team in the NET at No. 70 — the Big 12 became a self-sufficient cycle of Quad 1 and Quad 2 games for its members during the 2022-23 season. With BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF joining the conference next season, the calculus could change. But each of those four were top-100 teams in the NET while playing in weaker leagues this past season, and adding the Cougars gives the Big 12 another national power.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 1st in NCAA Tournament bid percentage: 7 of 10 (70%)
  • 3rd in NCAA Tournament record: 9-7 (56.3%)
  • 1st in top 50 NBA Draft prospects per team: .60 (six total)
  • 1st in average NET ranking: 30.2 (33.2 last year)
  • 1 in average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 21.3 (23.8 last year)

2. Big Ten​

If NCAA Tournament victories are the sole barometer of success, the Big Ten does not belong at No. 2. However, the conference put together another strong season on the whole, with its average NET ranking improving thanks to some strides from the league's bottom. Only Minnesota at No. 222 finished outside the top 100 of the NET. Even an Ohio State team that finished 16-19 finished at No. 49 in the NET. Why? Because the Buckeyes beat Cincinnati, Texas Tech and Rutgers during non-league play. Their only non conference losses came against San Diego State, Duke and North Carolina. Casual fans may not be paying attention yet, but November and December matter in college basketball. The Big Ten performed well early, and it boosted the league's metrics. A few examples that may seem surprising in retrospect given how the rest of the season played out: Purdue over Marquette (Nov. 15), Indiana over Xavier (Nov. 18), Illinois over UCLA (Nov. 18), Maryland over Miami (Nov. 20) and Wisconsin over Marquette (Dec. 3).


BY THE NUMBERS

  • T-2 in NCAA Tournament bid percentage: 8 of 14 (57.1%)
  • 5th in NCAA Tournament record: 6-8 (42.9%)
  • T-2 in top 50 NBA Draft prospects per team: .57 (eight total)
  • 2nd in average NET ranking: 54.1 (57.2 last year)
  • 2nd in average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 39.3 (45.6 last year)

Go Gophers!!
 

Wet_Blanket_Guy

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This is comical. The fact that they have the big east behind the big10 is laughable.

Lots of the B10 wins against the Big East we’re in November.

Would anyone take Wisconsin over Marquette in a best of 5 series?
 

Swaggerson

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per Cobb:

How much does NCAA Tournament success matter in evaluating the pecking order of college basketball conferences? It's a question that must be pondered when ranking the performance of the sport's power six conferences from the 2022-23 season. Unlike in the 2021-22 campaign when the Big 12 ranked as our No. 1 conference after producing the national champion following a great regular season, things aren't so clear this time around.

The Big 12 enjoyed another excellent regular season but did not send a team to the 2023 Final Four. Also complicating the conference hierarchy are the contradictions of the Big Ten and the Big East. The Big Ten performed well in head-to-head matchups with the Big East, sent a larger percentage of its teams to the Big Dance and ranked 23.5 spots higher in average NET ranking at season's end.

However, a Big East team hoisted the national championship trophy on April 3 while the Big Ten's beefy NCAA Tournament contingent watched from home following yet another disappointing postseason performance for the conference. Elsewhere around the country, the SEC dropped one spot from last season while the ACC and Pac-12 continued bringing up the rear.

In our annual conference power rankings, we've combined a number of factors, incorporating the regular season, NCAA Tournament and overall talent to take a full snapshot of the conference landscape in college basketball from the 2022-23 season.

1. Big 12​

This season snapped the Big 12's streak of four straight NCAA Tournaments with a team in the Final Four, but the league had two Elite Eight teams in Kansas State and Texas. Their runs were enough to make it a respectable postseason for the conference after it clearly stood out above the pack during the regular season. With no truly abysmal teams — Oklahoma was the league's worst-ranked team in the NET at No. 70 — the Big 12 became a self-sufficient cycle of Quad 1 and Quad 2 games for its members during the 2022-23 season. With BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF joining the conference next season, the calculus could change. But each of those four were top-100 teams in the NET while playing in weaker leagues this past season, and adding the Cougars gives the Big 12 another national power.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 1st in NCAA Tournament bid percentage: 7 of 10 (70%)
  • 3rd in NCAA Tournament record: 9-7 (56.3%)
  • 1st in top 50 NBA Draft prospects per team: .60 (six total)
  • 1st in average NET ranking: 30.2 (33.2 last year)
  • 1 in average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 21.3 (23.8 last year)

2. Big Ten​

If NCAA Tournament victories are the sole barometer of success, the Big Ten does not belong at No. 2. However, the conference put together another strong season on the whole, with its average NET ranking improving thanks to some strides from the league's bottom. Only Minnesota at No. 222 finished outside the top 100 of the NET. Even an Ohio State team that finished 16-19 finished at No. 49 in the NET. Why? Because the Buckeyes beat Cincinnati, Texas Tech and Rutgers during non-league play. Their only non conference losses came against San Diego State, Duke and North Carolina. Casual fans may not be paying attention yet, but November and December matter in college basketball. The Big Ten performed well early, and it boosted the league's metrics. A few examples that may seem surprising in retrospect given how the rest of the season played out: Purdue over Marquette (Nov. 15), Indiana over Xavier (Nov. 18), Illinois over UCLA (Nov. 18), Maryland over Miami (Nov. 20) and Wisconsin over Marquette (Dec. 3).


BY THE NUMBERS

  • T-2 in NCAA Tournament bid percentage: 8 of 14 (57.1%)
  • 5th in NCAA Tournament record: 6-8 (42.9%)
  • T-2 in top 50 NBA Draft prospects per team: .57 (eight total)
  • 2nd in average NET ranking: 54.1 (57.2 last year)
  • 2nd in average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 39.3 (45.6 last year)

Go Gophers!!
Big East had a monster year this past season. With the new coaches added there it is likely their success will continue.
 

Some guy

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This is comical. The fact that they have the big east behind the big10 is laughable.

Lots of the B10 wins against the Big East we’re in November.

Would anyone take Wisconsin over Marquette in a best of 5 series?
Why would the 11th team in the big ten vs the big east champion be the comparison?


Ps Marquette was 0-3 vs the big ten this year (Purdue, wisconsin, and michigan state)
Michigan state was in March.
 

Some guy

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Big East had a monster year this past season. With the new coaches added there it is likely their success will continue.
The big east champ was 0-3 against the big ten

UConn won the national title. Didn’t beat a single 1 or 2 seed to do it. The NCAA tourney is a barometer but a terrible sole barometer
 


Some guy

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UConn winning the national title doesn’t mean providence is better than Illinois
 

Wet_Blanket_Guy

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Why would the 11th team in the big ten vs the big east champion be the comparison?


Ps Marquette was 0-3 vs the big ten this year (Purdue, wisconsin, and michigan state)
Michigan state was in March.
The only thing that matters is performance in the NCAA tourney.

IMO KenPom dramatically overvalues the Big10. Wisconsin was on a 9 game losing streak and was still like 48 KenPom in mid-Feb.
 


Wet_Blanket_Guy

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Yeah, if I were the Big East, I would love to trade for the Big10’s tourney record.

How did Purdue do? Arguably the worst loss in the history of the tournament. They lost to a 16 seed who didn’t even qualify. FDU didn’t even win their conference, as the team who did is like UST (transitioning to D1 and can’t go to the dance within the transition window).
 
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Some guy

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Yeah, if I were the Big East, I would love to trade for the Big10’s tourney record.

How did Purdue do? Arguably the worst loss in the history of the tournament. They lost to a 16 seed who didn’t even qualify. FDU didn’t even win their conference, as the team who did is like UST (transitioning to D1 and can’t go to the dance within the transition window).
Purdue unbeaten vs big east this year. And it was the big east champ.


Why are you making an argument no one made?
No one said the big ten had a better tourney than the big east.



Going to be honest. The whole debate is stupid anyways. “Which conference is better?” Doesn’t even matter. Even if the big east is “better” because you value title contenders over depth of top 50 teams…that doesn’t mean St. John’s or Villanova should’ve been in over penn state. I get that the which conference is better argument is popular in the talking heads media.
Alabama and Georgia being great at football doesn’t make Arkansas a better program than Oklahoma state.
UConn winning a national title doesn’t mean seton hall is better than Wisconsin.

I will give you that UConn has a better team than Purdue.
I will also tell you that going into the tourney I predicted the big ten to have 1 maybe 2 teams in the sweet 16. Because although the big ten had probably 11 top 75 teams I’m not sure they had 2 top 20 teams.
 
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Wet_Blanket_Guy

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Purdue unbeaten vs big east this year. And it was the big east champ.


Why are you making an argument no one made?
No one said the big ten had a better tourney than the big east.



Going to be honest. The whole debate is stupid anyways. “Which conference is better?” Doesn’t even matter. Even if the big east is “better” because you value title contenders over depth of top 50 teams…that doesn’t mean St. John’s or Villanova should’ve been in over penn state. I get that the which conference is better argument is popular in the talking heads media.
Alabama and Georgia being great at football doesn’t make Arkansas a better program than Oklahoma state.
UConn winning a national title doesn’t mean seton hall is better than Wisconsin.

I will give you that UConn has a better team than Purdue.
I will also tell you that going into the tourney I predicted the big ten to have 1 maybe 2 teams in the sweet 16. Because although the big ten had probably 11 top 75 teams I’m not sure they had 2 top 20 teams.
I personally think KenPom and Net Rankings dramatically over rank the Big10 across the board.

If you look at Ohio State and Wisconsin last year; specifically their stretches from Jan through mid-Feb, how can either of these ranking system not drop these two programs out of the top 100…especially in a year were the B10 was so mediocre.
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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I personally think KenPom and Net Rankings dramatically over rank the Big10 across the board.

If you look at Ohio State and Wisconsin last year; specifically their stretches from Jan through mid-Feb, how can either of these ranking system not drop these two programs out of the top 100…especially in a year were the B10 was so mediocre.

You may have an argument about Ohio St, but why would Wisconsin drop out of the top 100? They were a NIT semifinal team, had 7 wins against NCAA tournament teams, a 1 point OT loss to Kansas, and never lost more than 3 in a row.
 



Some guy

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I personally think KenPom and Net Rankings dramatically over rank the Big10 across the board.

If you look at Ohio State and Wisconsin last year; specifically their stretches from Jan through mid-Feb, how can either of these ranking system not drop these two programs out of the top 100…especially in a year were the B10 was so mediocre.
Very possible and I agree.

Efficiency based metrics value losing close to good teams more than winning. Which I never have liked.


Two teams play 10 games against identical schedules with the same number of possessions against each opponent.
One team goes 1-9. Wins a game by 40 and loses 9 games by one each.
The other team goes 8-2. Loses two games by 40 and wins 8 games by 10.

Efficiency metrics like the 1-9 team better than an 8-2 team in that instance.



To me there is an overemphasis on SOS in Kenpom/NET/etc

Because it’s efficiency based and normalized for SOS. Ohio state can finish around 50 even though they were 10-18 against quad 1,2, and 3 combined.

Penn state and Ohio state have nearly identical NET even though they had a wide disparity in record. This is why penn state got in and Ohio state wasn’t even on the bubble. But simply looking at efficiency ratings only tells you a small part of the story, I agree.
 
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Wet_Blanket_Guy

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You may have an argument about Ohio St, but why would Wisconsin drop out of the top 100? They were a NIT semifinal team, had 7 wins against NCAA tournament teams, a 1 point OT loss to Kansas, and never lost more than 3 in a row.
Just look prior to the Big10 tournament start. They should have finished the conference schedule outside the top 100
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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Just look prior to the Big10 tournament start. They should have finished the conference schedule outside the top 100

Outside the top 100 means they were worse than nearly every NCAA tournament and NIT teams, which they clearly were not.
 

Wet_Blanket_Guy

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Outside the top 100 means they were worse than nearly every NCAA tournament and NIT teams, which they clearly were not.
The NIT is meaningless, I don't believe team's give their full efforts in the NIT...it's a modern day participation trophy
 





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