2019 NCAA Tournament Betting Trends: Conferences History
We now know what the bracket looks like for the 2019 NCAA Tournament. So, now we can take a look at what conferences the teams come from, and what that can teach us about how to handicap the tournament. Some conferences are just better in the tournament - better at both getting into the tournament and shining once they get there. Ultimately, it's teams that win the tournament, not the conference. But by getting a sense of the history of the conferences, though, there are lessons that can be picked up.
Conferences that champions have come from
ACC: They have the second-most tournament wins overall with 14, with 10 of those coming since 1985 when the tournament expanded to 64 teams.
Big 12: This group won one tournament in their Big 8 days in 1988 and one more 20 years later after becoming the Big 12.
Big East: The Big East has won the tournament eight times since 1985, which is the second best behind only ACC. But only four of those wins have come from teams that are still in the conference.
Big Ten: The Big Ten has won 10 tournaments overall, but just three since 1985 and none since 2000. The conference is always deep and tough but always fails to get over the top.
Pac-12: Has the most overall tournament wins with 15, but only two have come since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. The Pac-12 is in a sustained, dark place.
SEC: They have won 11 tournaments overall, with six since the move to 64 teams. All of those have come since 1994, so they were slow to get started in this era.
Other conferences with titles: The defunct Metro Conference, which became the Big East and then led to the AAC, got their lone modern title in 1986 with Louisville. Connecticut won a title for the AAC in 2014. And UNLV won one for the Big West in 1990.
Bids by conference this year
The Big Ten leads the way with eight bids from 14 teams. While that is the best raw number, it's not the best percentage - they had 57 percent of their teams make it, while the Big 12 had six teams get a bid, which is 60 percent of their teams. The ACC and SEC both had seven bids. The ACC is more impressive in the sense that three of their bids are No. 1 seeds, but the SEC actually has a better percentage of teams in - they have 14 members, while Notre Dame makes 15 members in the ACC for basketball. The AAC and Big East both have four, while the Pac-12 should be completely embarrassed by getting only three bids from their 12 teams. The only four other multiple-bid conferences are the A-10, Mountain West, Ohio Valley and West Coast with two each.
Conference winning rates
The ACC leads the way in overall win rate since the expansion to 64 teams in 1985. At a record of 318-162 they have won 66.3 percent of their games. The Big East, in its various configurations, is next best, with a 286-177 mark that equates to a 61.8 percent win rate. The Big Ten has won 60.6 percent of their games - 278-181. The SEC trails their midwestern foes narrowly - their 231-151 mark is a 60.5 percent rate. The Pac-12 is at 167-131 overall, which is right at 56 percent. That puts them at the bottom of the major conferences, which is what we would expect based on their generally pathetic performance over the years. They are a pathetic 26-24 since their expansion to 12 teams.
Of the smaller conferences, the only one that has had a long-term winning record and has played more than 50 games is Conference USA, which has gone 54-53 over the years. The A-10 isn't far behind, with an 88-98 record, which represents a win rate of 47.3 percent. Beyond 50 games played, the worst win rate belongs to the Sun Belt, which has gone 16-42, which is a 27.6 percent rate. The biggest dud, though, is the SWAC - they have just one tournament win in 25 tries.
An interesting case is the CAA, which has gone an underwhelming 21-27 overall but is 4-0 against the ACC. The CAA champ this year, Northeastern, would have to win twice as a No. 13 before they have a chance at an ACC foe - top seed North Carolina. Another oddity is the MEAC - they have played 32 tournament games, but they are the only active conference the Big Ten has played in the tournament. That could change this year, but only if North Carolina Central shocks Duke en route to the Elite Eight, and Michigan State, Maryland or Minnesota joins them. In other words, the avoidance streak will continue.
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