While no one person is responsible for deciding which college basketball team plays in which conference, we still have a fun game you can play wherein you pretend you’re in charge of the whole thing. All you need is a can of alphabet soup and a can opener.
First, open the can of soup. Second, dump it on the floor. There. You’re done.
That messy jumble of letters is essentially what we have as we head into the 2013-2014 season, the first one of the post-realignment era. For starters, the Big East is still the Big East, except it’s not because nearly every team without an affiliation with the risen Lord moved over to the brand new AAC, while a couple slid to the ACC. The AAC also poached a sizable portion of C-USA, which responded by raiding the A-10, CAA, Sun Belt and WAC. In fact, pretty much everyone left the WAC, which added everyone from everywhere to remain solvent.
We’ll stop there and summarize by saying a lot of pieces moved around the chess board during the offseason. If you’d like to comb through them, please enjoy this handy table:
|Abilene Christian||Division II||Southland|
|Boston U.||America East||Patriot League|
|Butler||Atlantic 10||Big East|
|Central Florida||Conference USA||AAC|
|Charlotte||Atlantic 10||Conference USA|
|Chicago State||Great West||WAC|
|Creighton||Missouri Valley||Big East|
|FAU||Sun Belt||Conference USA|
|FIU||Sun Belt||Conference USA|
|George Mason||CAA||Atlantic 10|
|Georgia State||CAA||Sun Belt|
|Grand Canyon||Division II||WAC|
|Houston Baptist||Great West||Southland|
|Incarnate Word||Division II||Southland|
|Louisiana Tech||WAC||Conference USA|
|Loyola (MD)||MAAC||Patriot League|
|UMass-Lowell||Division II||America East|
|MTSU||Sun Belt||Conference USA|
|North Texas||Sun Belt||Conference USA|
|Notre Dame||Big East||ACC|
|Old Dominion||CAA||Conference USA|
|San Jose State||WAC||MWC|
|South Florida||Big East||AAC|
|UT-Pan American||Great West||WAC|
|UT-San Antonio||WAC||Conference USA|
|Texas State||WAC||Sun Belt|
|Utah Valley||Great West||WAC|
|Xavier||Atlantic 10||Big East|
But if you’re like us and are more concerned with passing judgment, we of course have the numbers to do exactly that. We pitted the current version of each conference with last season’s vintage to see the improvement/deterioration in strength of schedule (overall and nonconference), winning percentage and, most importantly, the league’s aggregate Misix College Basketball Ranking (MCBR). Bear in mind we do not have a system that allows us to see into the future (yet), so all of this is based on last season’s results, performances, rosters, etc.
Atlantic Coast Conference
- Additions: Notre Dame, Pitt, Syracuse.
- Subtractions: none.
Welcoming three teams that in recent years have consistently been in the discussion for conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances is a sure-fire way to improve your league. As a result, the ACC received the biggest MCBR bump of any power conference (+5.8%), and also improved in overall SOS (0.7%) and winning percentage (+2.8%).
- Additions: none.
- Subtractions: University of Missouri-Kansas City, Oakland (MI).
We’re not going to dwell on this one too long because the conference got rid of two awful teams. As a result, its MCBR improved more than any other league (+13.4%), while its overall and nonconference SOS both nudged upward (0.2%, 0.4%).
- Additions: Boston U., Loyola (MD).
- Subtractions: none.
We’re not going to linger here either because this conference arguably makes a bigger impact on lacrosse than anything else. But the Patriot League can still do a little flag-waving (ha) after improving in all four areas (MCBR +5.5%, overall SOS +0.7%, nonconference SOS +1.1%, winning percentage +5.0%).
Western Athletic Conference
- Additions: Cal State-Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon, University of Missouri-Kansas City, UT-Pan American, Utah Valley
- Subtractions: Denver, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, UT-Arlington, UT-San Antonio, Texas State, Utah State.
This is the closest any league came to this:
Basically, the conference got rid of a bunch of teams that you hear about during the first month of the season as they get destroyed by the upper echelon and replaced them with a bunch of teams that are somehow worse. As a result, the WAC lost ground in MCBR (-34.0%), overall and nonconference SOS (-7.0%, -1.8%), and winning percentage (-6.2%).
- Additions: George Mason.
- Subtractions: Butler, Charlotte, Temple, Xavier.
Another case of subtraction by subtraction, with everyone’s favorite mid-major of the moment Butler as the most glaring loss. The conference took the third-biggest MCBR hit (-8.2%) and also is in the red for overall SOS (-2.7%), nonconference SOS (-1.3%) and winning percentage (-1.9%).
- Additions: Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, Old Dominion, UT-San Antonio.
- Subtractions: Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU.
C-USA declined in MCBR (-8.9%), overall SOS (-3.8%) and winning percentage (-3.8%). That is almost entirely because Memphis left. Moving on.
In fact, let’s save some time and just throw the rest of conferences in this section together.
Southland, Southern, MAAC, Missouri Valley, Sun Belt, Big West, Mountain West
- Additions: many.
- Subtractions: just as many, if not more.
All of these conferences got worse in at least three of our metrics—many of them in all four. Good times.
Messy Divorce Division
- Additions: Butler, Creighton, Xavier.
- Subtractions: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame, Pitt, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse.
The teams that make up the new Big East galvanized around two things: Jesus and a distaste for football. But while casting out the heathens (and Notre Dame) resurrected the league’s nonconference SOS (+3.3%) and winning percentage (+2.5%), it also subjected its MCBR (-4.0%) and overall SOS (-3.2%) to at least temporary damnation.
American Athletic Conference
- Additions: everyone (Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, South Florida, Temple).
- Subtractions: none.
This one’s a little tricky because there was no AAC last season, making the comparison we’ve been using so far impossible. We did, however, create indexes for three factors using the Big Ten as a baseline because it underwent no changes to its membership. By those measures, the AAC fared pretty well, placing fifth according to MCBR, and eighth in overall and nonconference SOS. It also sports the best winning percentage of any conference (64.02%), which happens when you have two teams with just five losses last season, including national champion Louisville.
There you have it. Everything you need to know about your team’s realigned conference. Feel free to print it out and use it as a handy guide for this season. Unless your team is in the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, Big 12, MAC or Ivy League, all of which are exactly the same as last year. If that’s the case, none of this applied to you, nor will it affect your season in any discernible way. But thanks for reading.
Important programming note: For those of you who are new to the blog or just looking to waste another 45 seconds, we wanted to let you know what you can expect from us this year. We’ll update our rankings daily to reflect the previous day’s results, we’ll have a longer post every Tuesday, and Friday’s feature is the game (possibly games) of the weekend. We’ll also make bold predictions and actually track them so you can judge our brilliance/buffoonery.
Sprinkled throughout will be amusing clips from YouTube and chuckle-inducing interweb links like this one. Think we can keep up that schedule for the next five months? We’re 74% sure we can. Check back often to find out, and follow us on Twitter (@misixanalytics).