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):
|Big 8 *||67-49||0.578|
|Great Midwest *||15-12||0.556|
|MW City *||2-1||0.667|
|MW Coll *||10-22||0.313|
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:
|MW City||.667||Now the Horizon League|
|PCAA||.571||Now the Big West|
|Pac-10||.569||Now the Pac-12|
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:
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.
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.
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).