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Daniel Wilco | NCAA.com | March 12, 2019

How every conference has fared in March Madness since 1985

Greatest buzzer beaters in March Madness history

Once the first game of the NCAA tournament begins, we shed conference identities for the four regions, but the question is always there: is there a conference that dominates the madness?

Let’s take a look at how every conference has fared in the NCAA tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, and then dive a little deeper.

This first table is ordered alphabetically, and includes stats from now-extinct conferences (denoted with asterisks):

Conference Wins Losses Percentage
A-10 88 98 47.31%
A-Sun 6 32 15.79%
American 11 8 57.89%
ACC 318 162 66.25%
American East 1 20 4.76%
ASC * 1 3 25.00%
Big 12 159 117 57.61%
Big 8 * 67 49 57.76%
Big East 286 177 61.77%
Big Sky 3 32 8.57%
Big South 1 21 4.55%
Big Ten 278 181 60.57%
Big West 21 33 38.89%
CAA 21 37 36.21%
CUSA 54 53 50.47%
ECAC * 1 9 10.00%
ECC * 0 7 0.00%
Great Midwest * 15 12 55.56%
Horizon 19 19 50.00%
Independents 13 18 41.94%
Ivy 8 33 19.51%
MAAC 5 33 13.16%
MAC 19 38 33.33%
MEAC 3 28 9.68%
Metro * 26 25 50.98%
Mid-Cont * 7 23 23.33%
MVC 40 59 40.40%
MW City * 2 1 66.67%
MW Coll * 10 22 31.25%
MWC 22 44 33.33%
NAC * 2 8 20.00%
NEC 0 25 0.00%
OVC 6 34 15.00%
Pac-10 * 141 107 56.85%
Pac-12 26 24 52.00%
Patriot 3 25 10.71%
PCAA * 8 6 57.14%
SEC 231 151 60.47%
Southern 6 33 15.38%
Southland 5 32 13.51%
Summit 1 10 9.09%
Sun Belt 16 42 27.59%
SWAC 1 24 4.00%
SWC 21 24 46.67%
WAC 42 65 39.25%
WCAC * 1 7 12.50%
WCC 35 41 46.05%

Now, it’s important to note that a few entries on the top list are simply different segments of the same conferences. For instance, the Pac-10 and the Pac-12 are the same conference, just at different periods in history. Because of conference growth and realignment, however, we’ll treat each conference iteration as its own.

Out of the 32 current conferences, just eight have winning records in the tournament's modern format

Here they are, ordered by winning percentage:

Conference Wins Losses Percentage
ACC 318 162 66.25%
Big East 286 177 61.77%
Big Ten 278 181 60.57%
SEC 231 151 60.47%
American 11 8 57.89%
Big 12 159 117 57.61%
Pac-12 26 24 52.00%
CUSA 54 53 50.47%

For a better picture (literally) here’s a visual look at where all these wins are located, featuring all 47 conferences’ win totals:

NCAA tournament wins by conference
There’s some serious saturation here! The king of the hill statistically, the ACC, is the only conference with 300 tournament wins since '85. It takes adding up the bottom 36 conferences' win totals to surpass the ACC’s total — 346-318.

As one might guess, the winningest conference also has the best win percentage of any that has played more than three games, with the ACC winning almost two-thirds of its games, at 66.25 percent.

And finally, here’s a look at a few interesting notes from some of the conferences with losing records:

Atlantic Sun: The A-Sun has played just under one-quarter of its 38 tournament games against the ACC, but one-third of its wins have come against the ACC.

Big West: The Big West has won four of six tournament meetings with the Big East in a battle of [Size] [Cardinal Direction] conferences.

CAA: The Colonial has four wins vs. the ACC, but has gone 0-9 against Conference USA, Horizon, and A-10 combined.

Horizon: A winning record against the winningest conference in the tournament? The Horizon is 2-1 vs. the ACC.

MEAC: Despite 32 appearances, a MEAC team has never faced the Big Ten. It’s the only active DI conference the Big Ten hasn’t faced in the tournament.

MVC: The Missouri Valley was averaging 1.1 wins per tournament since 1985. Then Loyola-Chicago picked up four in 2018.

MORE: The highest scoring March Madness games in NCAA tournament history

NEC: Unfortunately, the NEC is the only conference with at least 20 appearances and no wins. It's also the lone winless current conference.

Summit: In 11 appearances, a Summit team has never met an SEC team. 

WAC: Interestingly, the WAC went 5-2 against the Pac-10, and has yet to meet the Pac-12. 

WCC: These west coast rabble rousers have winning records against the SEC (3-1) and Big East (7-5).

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