Major Conferences 1st and 2nd Round Tournament Performance

The Regular Season Compared to the Post-Season

          As fun as the regular season was, everything that happened during it is irrelevant when the post-season starts (except for UNC beating Duke in Coach K's last home game). At this point, we find out which teams and conferences were the real deal and who were absolute frauds. This tournament still has some work left, but it did enough to show the nation which conference was legitimate, and which was unquestionably phony. We'll start with the imposters first.  

Oral Roberts v Florida
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Mountain West (In: N/A. Out: Boise State, Wyoming, San Diego State, Colorado State)

          I have a soft spot for the Mountain West conference and hoped they would put more of a show, but not a single team even made it to Friday. Wyoming would have advanced against Indiana if not for Graham Ike and Hunter Maldonado having 15 turnovers combined. No amount of coaching could have helped Boise State get past Memphis's talent.

Colorado State should have mopped Michigan, but they somehow forgot they were in the tournament by the second half, and San Diego State just choked against Creighton. I liked this conference going into the tournament, but none of these teams were worthy of being in it due to their garbage performances. I do expect some improvement next year.

San Diego State's Trey Pulliam (4) and Chad Baker-Mazara walk off the court after a 72-69 overtime loss to Creighton.
(Photo by K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

SEC (In: Arkansas. Out: Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, Auburn)

          This conference was just a complete embarrassment.

I understand they performed well at the beginning of the season with Alabama beating Gonzaga, Auburn on that crazy run to being ranked number one, and Kentucky's talent dominating most teams, but that was all early in the regular season. There were plenty of signs that these "premiere" teams in the SEC would be exposed, especially towards the end of the season. I'm not lying when I say I wasn't surprised about Kentucky losing because Coach Calipari is not a good coach; he relies on the talent and rolls the dice with those recruits. I thought maybe Tennessee would have gone on a run after their SEC championship win, but the SEC is not a basketball conference. Arkansas is all that's left out of the six teams that made it into the tournament, and they looked suspicious both against Vermont and New Mexico State. I will give a little more credit to the SEC if Arkansas somehow makes it to the Elite 8 against Gonzaga, but more than likely, the SEC will be out of the NCAA tournament quickly.  

Doug Edert (25) of the Saint Peter's Peacocks celebrates after drawing a foul against the Kentucky Wildcats during overtime of Thursday's stunning 85-79 win in the NCAA East Region in Indianapolis.
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Big Ten (In: Purdue, Michigan. Out: Michigan State, Indiana, Rutgers, Illinois, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa)

          I said it on Twitter, and I'll repeat it, The Big Ten is an excellent regular-season conference, but they are the worst post-season conference. Although the SEC has fallen the hardest in this tournament, the Big Ten had the most teams with nine schools in this tournament, and now only two remain, and one of those two doesn't deserve to be in the tournament. Every year we see this conference get propped up in the AP top 25 ranks in the regular season, and understandably so. Their conference regular-season games are undoubtedly fun basketball to watch, but these schools don't show up when it comes to the post-season. Iowa, who won the Big Ten tournament and looked like one of the hottest teams going into the tournament, lost to Richmond, who got smoked by Providence. I don't think it's a coincidence that a Big Ten school has not won a national championship since 2000 with Michigan State.

Sure, we've had some teams make it to that final game in the last 22 years, yet none have produced well enough to win it all. The public feels pretty good about number three seed Purdue, and this is undoubtedly the best chance they'll ever get to the Final Four. Still, they have had some severe hiccups this year that makes me think they're vulnerable enough to even lose their sweet sixteen matchups against the Cinderella school St. Peters.

A couple of men playing basketballDescription automatically generated with low confidence
(Photo by Ebony Cox/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Big East (In: Providence, Villanova. Out: Creighton, Marquette, Seton Hall, UConn)

          Historically, this conference has been better in the tournament than the last three conferences mentioned in this article. Still, they haven't been as good as it appears this year's regular season and post-season. The only stand-out school now is Villanova, but their reliability on the free-throw line is the only thing they got going for them; take that out, and they're barely above average. Providence left the end of their regular season and Big East tournament something to be desired, which made the public think they would be an early exit. They've surprised everyone by blowing out their competition so far but granted, these schools were South Dakota State and Richmond (which shows how bad the Big Ten is). The early exits of overrated Uconn, Marquette, and Seton Hall showed us the committee and AP writers put way too much stock in these schools in the regular season. They still have a solid position in their regions to make a run, but we should not be surprised if these schools fall out in the sweet sixteen.  

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Marquette vs North Carolina
(Photo by Chris Jones/USA TODAY Sports)

Conferences That Are The Real Deal...

PAC12 (In: UCLA, Arizona. Out: USC)

          These three schools were the only real competition the conference had. Arizona and UCLA both had some scares when they played Akron and TCU but have shown they can finish the games even when they're not in their favor. USC could have been the ones in the sweet sixteen; however that loss on such a heartbreaker against Miami when Drew Peterson missed his Gordon Hayward style shot sent them home. That game was probably one of the few highlight games of the first round. I think UCLA is the best team left that can make it to the Final Four, although Arizona does have a pretty easy road to get there. We can't forget that this conference has a more extensive drought than the Big Ten and has not had a national champion since 1997.

Although that drought is embarrassingly bad, I think the conference is moving toward the right direction where very soon, we will see one of these schools win the national championship, could even be this year.  

UCLA guard Johnny Juzang, right, drives around St. Mary's guard Logan Johnson during the first half Saturday.
(Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer / Associated Press)

WCC (In: Gonzaga. Out: Saint Mary’s, San Francisco)

          This is a much smaller conference that has performed better and more consistently than some of the power five conferences.

If it weren't for 2-3 bad losses by BYU, they likely would have joined the rest of the WCC in the NCAA Tournament.

San Francisco against Murray state was another big highlight of the tournament, and it could have gone either way. Saint Mary's looked dominant in the first round against Indiana and made me think they'd be more competitive against UCLA, but they were no match. Georgia State looked like they would pull a UMBC, but Gonzaga quickly sent them back to Atlanta easily in the second half. Gonzaga still looks like the overall favorite to win the whole thing, but Memphis showed us that they're susceptible to getting knocked out before the Final Four.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round - Memphis vs. Gonzaga
(Photo by Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports)

AAC (In: Houston. Out: Memphis)

          It's a real shame that most of the conference schools are moving to the Big 12 because these teams have a bright future.

Houston has consistently gone to the tournament and has been relatively competitive. Fortunately, the AAC will still have Memphis to keep the conference competitive. Speaking of Memphis, it seemed as if they were doubtful to go to the tournament somehow after Penny Hardaway's famous rant; they turned it around and were one of the hottest teams. They were so close to the sweet sixteen, but they got a little unlucky getting paired up with Gonzaga. Houston, however, looks like they're going to put on a great show against Arizona. I hope they make it out of that region into the Final Four but will have a tough road. Although this conference is losing a lot of their better schools, they will still impact future tournaments.  

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Houston vs Illinois
(Photo by Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

ACC (In: Duke, UNC, Miami. Out: Virginia Tech, Notre Dame)

          The ACC was so slept on this year. Everyone assumed that this was a down year for the conference because they hadn't competed well in the out-of-conference portion of the regular season. In reality, this conference was probably one of the more talented and competitive conferences in the NCAA. Historically, it's by far the best basketball conference in the NCAA, and the blue bloods of the conference are showing it. Duke still has some problems on defense they better rectify, or they're going to get knocked out, but offensively they're a headache to deal with. UNC has never been hotter and is exceeding expectations this season. Their performance between Marquette and Baylor showed that this team is still very relevant, even though UNC nearly got their sweet sixteen spot robbed away from the officials. UNC's flaw, though, is they have to stay out of foul trouble with their starters because their bench is not deep. Hopefully, that colossal ending with Baylor matured them and taught this team how to play much more competent. Miami has an incredible unit with Charlie Moore, Isaiah Wong, and Kameron McGusty. These three players could legitimately be strong picks when they get to the NBA. They probably have the most likely path to the Final Four than Duke or UNC. Lastly, if UNC and Duke play each other in the Final Four, that will be the rivalry's biggest game. I may end up with an ulcer at the end of that potential matchup.    

Duke forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) reacts with guard Jeremy Roach (3) after defeating Michigan State.
(Photo by Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports)

Big 12 (In: Iowa State, Kansas, Texas Tech. Out: Baylor, Texas, TCU)

          As much as I love and favor the ACC, the Big 12 is the clear strongest basketball conference nowadays. I would not put a lot of stock into Iowa State getting to the Final Four especially having to face Miami next, but credit to them for getting this far. As for Kansas, I think they're as big of frauds as Kentucky was this year.

If you take a deeper look into their record, most of their wins were only one possession. If things went the other way, they would not be close to a one seed. If Providence does not beat them, I love Miami matching up against Kansas. Texas and TCU got utterly screwed by the ref show and probably should be in the sweet sixteen with the rest of us. They have a solid future, though. Texas Tech is probably my favorite team to win it all in this conference; although they struggled a bit against Notre Dame, you knew they would pull away with that game. Texas Tech will put Duke through hell in their sweet sixteen matchup. This conference has one of the brightest basketball futures, not only because of the current teams and their performances, but they have Houston, Cincinnati, BYU, and UCF coming in to make a real impact in their conference.  

SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 18: Kevin Obanor #0 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders with a dunk during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament held at Viejas Arena on March 18, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson / Getty Images)