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Thursday, December 29, 2011

NCAA Conference Power Rankings: Final list of 2011

In January I'll begin doing the Power 16 and soon my NCAATournament predictions while continuing the mid-major rankings.  I've been asked to do another conference power ranking this month and I think now is a good time.  This way we can kind of see how all the conferences stack up with each other before conference play really swings into full gear.

Matt Carlino's transfer from UCLA has been a
revelation for BYU and the entire WCC.
  1. Big Ten - The entire conference enjoyed non-conference play while picking up numerous quality wins including Kentucky and Duke.  Have eight or nine teams with legitimate NCAA Tournament aspirations while Ohio St. may be the best team in the country.  Non-conference record: 123-28.
  2. Big 12 - There's only 10 teams in the Big 12 this year and with the losses of Nebraska and Colorado the conference as a whole is improved.  Kansas, Baylor, and Missouri look like potential Final Four teams.  Non-conferenc record: 91-24.
  3. Big East -  Unlike past years there aren't multiple teams that appear to have better than average chance at winning it all.  That said, this is still the conference who will likely secure the most bids.  The bottom half of the conference isn't as strong as past years either. Non conference record: 151-44.
  4. ACC - North Carolina and Duke are the clear 1-2 but Virginia and Florida St. look strong also. Wake Forest and BC aren't good but aren't as awful as I expected.  There are likely four NCAA bids to be had here. Non-conference record: 100-44.
  5. SEC - Kentucky is arguably the best team and Florida is really good but who's number three?Alabama was overrated to start the year, Vanderbilt too.  Mississippi St. might be the answer with wins over Arizona, West Virginia, and only a two point loss to Baylor.  Still, for a twelve team power conference you'd like to see more than four bids and I'm not sure it's going to happen.  Non-conference record: 105-41.
  6. Mountain West - This ranking is a bit arbitrary.  I just believe the top three in this conference can beat the top three in any remaining conference.  UNLV is the top of the class but soon you'll see New Mexico ranked as well.  Wyoming and Boise St. have made the middle of this conference somewhat decent.  Too bad Colorado St. had a disappointing start.  Non-conference record: 79-23.
  7. Atlantic 10 - Like the MWC, the top three in this conference are stout.  Sure, Xavier had a bit of a speed bump but the suspensions are over and they should pick up right where they left off.  St. Joseph's likely isn't a tournament team but they've beaten Creighton and Villanova.  A win at Harvard this weekend and this becomes a potential four-bid league. Non-conference record: 105-66.
  8. Missouri Valley - I believe the MVC is back and you have to give the conference credit for scheduling with the big boys this year.  Wichita St. and Creighton have played very well so far while Indiana St., UNI, and Missouri St. all have quality wins.  It looks like a three bid league barring a crazy season in conference play. Non-conference record: 73-39.  
  9. Pac 12 - This entire league has struggled to pick up quality wins.  Cal's best win is over Denver, Arizona's over Clemson, and Stanford over NC St.  In fact the best win for the entire conference may be Oregon St.'s OT win over Texas in November.  UCLA was embarrassed in Hawai'i and Utah didn't pick up their first win against a DI team until last week. Not good.  Non-conference record: 89-57.
  10. Conference USA - Memphis is definitely overrated but Marshall continues to exceed expectations.  Southern Miss, Tulane, and Tulsa are decent but more than two teams aren't going to the NCAA Tournament.  It wouldn't surprise me if only one qualifies.  Non-conference record: 91-53.
  11. West Coast - This is another league that's playing better as a whole than many expected.  Gonzaga, St. Mary's and newcomer BYU make it top heavy but there's good basketball to be found here, no doubt.  They can't stumble if they want a three-bid league (the most ever?) and if that's the case I may move them ahead of Conference USA in my next rankings. Non-conference record: 68-43.
  12. Tie:

    1. Western Athletic - Utah St. & New Mexico St. That's it, really.
    2. Horizon League - This league is so wide open I don't know who to predict. Cleveland St. is probably the best team but Valpo, Milwaukee, and Butler could make a run.
Most Disappointing: Colonial Athletic - This is going to be a one-bid league with zero at-large teams.
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