Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Bracket - Best Conferences Dominate - ACC, Big East, Big 12 and SEC Have Won all 22 National Titles this Century

Here is the quick reference of brackets with the links to this and each of the other brackets.

In the 21st Century, the ACC (8), Big 12 (3), Big East (7) and SEC (3) have won 21 of 22 National Titles. The only exception - UConn won it once when they took a few years off from the Big East before returning.

Other than that the Big Ten, Pac-12 and other 25 conferences have not won a title since the end of the last century when Tom Izzo took Michigan State to the 2000 title.

4 Conf           Tourney Teams    Final 4 Teams    Win Title%     21st Cent Titles
SEC8 0.9 25%3
B128 0.8 18%3
BE3 0.7 30%8
ACC5 0.4 9%8
Total 424 2.7 82%22
All otherTourney TeamsFinal 4 TeamsWin Title%21st Cent Titles
B106 0.6 13%0
P124 0.3 5%0
MWC6 0.2 0%0
WCC3 0.2 0%0
Other 2325 0.2 0%0
Total 2744 1.3 18%0

Those four conferences have also produced 60% of all Final Four teams. Last year the four conferences appeared set to grab three of the four spots until Creighton let one slip away against San Diego State in the closing seconds - but UConn (Big East) and Miami (ACC) once again gave the four conferences two spots and the Big Ten and Pac-12 failed to place a Final Four team again.

This year the Big Ten and Mountain West placed six teams a piece, with Purdue and then in their last year Arizona of the Pac-12 seeming to offer the best chance for the "Rose Bowl" conferences to get their first title of the century before Arizona also moves to the Big 12. As you go through your brackets, one things to decide is if you believe this is the breakthrough year or if in games that look close to you you might want to go with the team from one of those four conferences.

The 24 teams out of those four conferences do once again look like the have the bulk of the chance to produce a 23rd National Champion in 23 years. We do calculate that Purdue has a 9% chance and Arizona has a 5% chance, but overall we calculate an 81% chance that one of those four conferences makes it 23 titles in a row.

The bracket below is the only one in which we specifically picked teams from one of those four conferences if it looked like they had a close game against a team from any of the other 27 conferences.

Picking the ACC, Big 12, Big East and SEC

The next method I've always tried, and has had some great years, is assuming teams who had to come through the best conferences that season are better prepared to run through close tournament games for deep runs. 

This year the Big 12 and the Big East were the top two conferences, and last year three teams from each had strong showings and you can argue all three from each were close to Final 4 teams.

In the Big East, UConn obviously dominated, while Creighton let an Elite 8 game slip away in the final seconds and Xavier lost perhaps their best player late in the season and still made the Sweet 16 without him.

The Big 12 had near misses as well. Texas lost by single digits in the Elite 8, and both K-State and TCU had three point losses or the Big 12 might have had two in the Final 4.

The only trick with the Big 12 this year is I'm not sure who makes the Final 4 run because Houston looked so bad in the conference tournament and Kansas is so injured, and just not sure if Iowa State is as good as they look, so none calculated Final 4 in this bracket but noone has more teams that could make a Final 4 run.  Baylor seems the best bet to go Final 4 if I had to pick just one.

Amazingly the Big East only received three bids despite St. John's ranking 25th in www.ken.com. Based on a quirk the the extra credit we gave the conferences it was enough to actually show all three Big East teams going to the Final 4- which obviously won't happen - but the point is if Marquette is healthy then the three teams that were picked all have a shot at a run. If this played out in fantasy land - the Big East old timers could find the old "Who Invited Memphis State to the Big East Tournament" from 1985 (Villanova, Georgetown and St. John's were the other three that year) and replace it with "Who Invited Baylor to the Big East Tournament." 

We also give SEC teams a slightly bigger boost than Big Ten teams in these matchups, because as good as the Big Ten is they have not produced a national title in more than two decades whereas when and SEC team gets on a run they have a shot to go all the way. The ACC dominated for so many years, but based on kenpom. has been only the 5th best conference behind the other four - but obviously Duke and UNC have gone all the way in several more recent tournaments.

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