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-dormant conferences (denoted with asterisks):

Conference Record Win %
A-10 87-95 0.478
A-Sun 6-31 0.162
American 11-8 0.579
ACC 307-153 0.667
American East 1-20 0.048
ASC * 1-3 0.250
Big 12 147-110 0.572
Big 8 * 67-49 0.578
Big East 278-172 0.618
Big Sky 3-31 0.088
Big South 1-20 0.048
Big Ten 270-177 0.604
Big West 21-32 0.396
CAA 21-36 0.368
CUSA 53-52 0.505
ECAC * 1-9 0.100
ECC * 0-7 0.000
Great Midwest * 15-12 0.556
Horizon 19-18 0.514
Independents 13-18 0.419
Ivy 8-32 0.200
MAAC 5-32 0.135
MAC 18-37 0.327
MEAC 3-28 0.097
Metro * 26-25 0.510
Mid-Cont * 7-23 0.233
MVC 36-57 0.387
MW City * 2-1 0.667
MW Coll * 10-22 0.313
MWC 20-42 0.323
NAC * 2-8 0.200
NEC 0-25 0.000
OVC 6-33 0.154
Pac-10 * 141-107 0.569
Pac-12 26-23 0.531
Patriot 3-24 0.111
PCAA * 8-6 0.571
SEC 223-143 0.609
Southern 6-32 0.158
Southland 5-31 0.139
Summit 1-9 0.100
Sun Belt 16-41 0.281
SWAC 1-23 0.042
SWC 21-24 0.467
WAC 42-64 0.396
WCAC * 1-7 0.125
WCC 33-40 0.452

Out of the 47 conferences that have competed in the tournament in its current format, just 15 have winning percentages above .500.

Here they are, ordered by winning percentage:

Conference Win Pct. Notes
ACC .667  
MW City .667 Now the Horizon League
Big East .618  
SEC .609  
Big Ten .604  
American .579  
Big 8 .578  
Big 12 .572  
PCAA .571 Now the Big West
Pac-10 .569 Now the Pac-12
Great Midwest .556  
Pac-12 .531  
Horizon .514  
Metro .510  
C-USA .505  

Now, it’s important to note that a few entries on this 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. These 15 conferences have been responsible for 1,593 of 1,974 NCAA tournament wins since 1985, which means during that span, 80.6 percent of the tournament wins belong to 31.9 percent of the conferences.

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

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 35 conferences’ win totals to surpass the ACC’s total — by one win, 308-307. 

As one might guess, the winningest conference also has the best win percentage, with the ACC winning exactly two-thirds of its games, or 66.7 percent.

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

Atlantic 10: The A-10 holds its own against some of the top dogs, with a winning record (11-10) against the mighty Big East and an even split (10-10) with the SEC.

Atlantic Sun: The A-Sun has played just under one-quarter of its 37 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 31 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 has won exactly half of its matchups with the Big 12.

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. 

Summit: In 10 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).

Adam Hermann has written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia magazine, SB Nation, and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.