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Numbers show the SEC is the fifth best conference in college basketball


We’ve all complained about how bad the SEC has been in basketball this season, but after my post last week detailing the RPI and KenPom rankings for each of the 14 squads, one of our readers, Zachary Thomas, emailed me with a deeper look into how the conference ranks up against others in the sport. Using KenPom’s average of adjusted efficiency (points per possession controlled for strength of schedule), Zach discovered that the SEC may not be the worst conference in all of college basketball, but it is the second worst of the Power 5 conferences and only the fifth best overall:

Conference Average of AdjEM2
1. Big 12 19.3
2. ACC 16.8
3. Big East 14.7
4. Big 10 13.6
5. SEC 11.7
6. Pac-12 9.8
7. American 6.3
8. Atlantic 10 4.4
9. WCC 3.7
10. MVC 3.0

Note that these numbers were calculated before yesterday’s games, but still, they’re pretty telling. Right now, of the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) only the Pac 12 is worse than the SEC in basketball. Last night’s game is a good example of what’s going on in the league right now: after an influx of better coaches (Rick Barnes, Avery Johnson, Ben Howland, etc.), recruiting has improved, but teams are just really, really young. And, unlike Kentucky, that talent doesn’t always click right away, leading to some of the wild Jekyll/Hyde performances by teams like Mississippi State, who dropped games to teams like Lehigh, ETSU, and UCF early on but more than held their own vs. the Cats at home last night.

So, while the SEC is categorically bad, there’s hope for the future. (Maybe.) Until then, let’s just hope we don’t lose to anyone not named Florida or we can kiss a #1-seed goodbye.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

4 Comments for Numbers show the SEC is the fifth best conference in college basketball

  1. gright
    3:11 pm January 18, 2017 Permalink

    I think if our only loss in the regular season SEC is to Florida then we still could get a #1 Seed. I do wish the selection committee would stop using geographic location as a factor since this leads to some regions being tougher than others and we always seem to make it to a tougher region.

  2. Aar
    3:38 pm January 18, 2017 Permalink

    I’d be interested to see other metrics comparing the conferences. In the area of coach’s experience and overall record, my guess is that the SEC would be higher than the results. In the area of coach tenure in current position, the SEC would probably be last. We all know that in the area of player experience the SEC is last.

    Further, how about a bit of a comparison to years past? If memory serves, I think the statistical scores of the SEC’s worst teams are higher now then in the recent past. I also think coach record/experience and tenure metrics are all moving in the right direction.

    If my memory serves, the SEC is improving year over year. The current young talent in the league and the recently hired top coaching talent point to more improvement in coming years. I like the year over year outlook of SEC basketball. It will make it much tougher for UK to retain it lofty post atop the league but that’s a good thing.

    The SEC should soon (2-3 years) start helping UK build a tournament seeding profile and we won’t have to play a brutal non-con schedule to do that. When SEC basketball team are more closely matched, the play will be less physical which will result in fewer fouls being called and the games will be much more fun to watch.

  3. jaws2
    4:26 pm January 18, 2017 Permalink

    The Big 12 is GREAT every year; until tourney time.

  4. Jiminy Crickets
    7:08 pm January 18, 2017 Permalink

    Big12 basketball = Big12 football. All talk and hype, no substance