1–358 By the Numbers: What Do Conference Placements Suggest About 2021–22? – CalBearsMaven Leave a comment

On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated dropped its preseason ranking of all 358 teams in men’s college basketball, which can be read here.
Compiled by Kevin Sweeney, the list gives us a chance to do a deeper dive into the numbers and see what the data suggests about narratives around the upcoming season. Which conferences look the strongest based on a weighted average, the number of teams in the top 100 and more measurements? Who do we predict to win each league—and to finish in the basement?
Below, we break down the answers to those questions, drawing from our master ranking.
1
Big 12
40.6
2
Big Ten
47.6
3
SEC
57
4
Big East
58.5
5
ACC
60.8
6
Pac-12
66.6
7
American
94.0
8
WCC
117.1
9
Atlantic 10
120.9
10
Missouri Valley
123.0
11
Mountain West
141.7
12
C-USA
151.2
13
MAC
182.3
14
Sun Belt
199.7
15
CAA
205.7
16
Southern
208.1
17
Horizon
217.6
18
WAC
219.2
19
MAAC
230.4
20
Ohio Valley
232.2
21
Big West
233.0
22
Ivy
233.5
23
Atlantic Sun
243.1
24
Big Sky
244.7
25
Summit
246.3
26
America East
246.4
27
Patriot
268.7
28
Big South
269.2
29
NEC
272.9
30
SWAC
304.2
31
MEAC
305.9
32
Southland
310.9
*Determined by finding the average 1–358 position of all members of the conference
Takeaway: The Big 12 surely benefits a bit from having only 10 total teams—compared to 14 for the next two closest conferences, the Big Ten and SEC—but it’s no surprise to see it in the No. 1 spot. The league is perennially strong and has three teams in SI’s top seven alone. For comparison, the ACC doesn’t get to its third team until No. 21. Speaking of the ACC, its placement at fifth doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence that last season’s uncharacteristically mediocre season was a fluke, but a lot will come down to the way teams like Duke, UNC and Virginia rebound.
The top five mid-major conferences are the WCC, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, Mountain West and Conference USA, and all but perhaps the C-USA seem to have at least a decent shot at multiple NCAA tournament bids. The Southland’s checking in dead last out of the 32 leagues was a bit unexpected, but after losing five teams—including Stephen F. Austin and Abilene Christian—it has some slack to make up.
PREVIEWS: American | ACC | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten: 6
Big 12: 4
SEC: 4
ACC: 3
Pac-12: 2
AAC: 2
Big East: 2
WCC: 1
A-10: 1
Takeaway: Here is where the Big Ten’s potential depth starts to come through. The conference sent nine teams dancing last March, and if it truly has six top-25-level teams in 2021–22, it could be on its way to achieving that again. The Pac-12 has only two teams here, but the positive is that both are within the top 12. On paper, the Big East doesn’t figure to have another legitimate national title contender after Villanova, but perhaps UConn can make a push into that territory.
Big Ten: 8
SEC: 8
Big 12: 7
ACC: 7
Big East: 5
Pac-12: 4
American: 3
WCC: 2
Mountain West: 2
A-10: 2
Missouri Valley: 1
Conference USA: 1
Takeaway: The SEC’s recent growth in men’s basketball is on display here; Kentucky may be SI’s predicted winner, but it will have plenty of competition. The Pac-12’s having only four of its 12 teams in the top 50 shows we’re still skeptical about the depth of the conference as a whole, despite its magical March performance. The American’s three top-50 teams (Memphis, Houston, Wichita State) figure to be where its upper tier ends. And the A-10 may have only two teams here, but both (St. Bonaventure and Richmond) have NCAA tournament at-large potential.
PREVIEWS: Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | Best of Rest
Big Ten: 13
SEC: 12
ACC: 12
Pac-12: 10
Big 12: 9
Big East: 9
American: 6
Atlantic 10: 6
WCC: 5
Mountain West: 4
Missouri Valley: 4
Conference USA: 4
MAC: 3
Ohio Valley: 1
MAAC: 1
WAC: 1
Takeaway: Again, the Big Ten’s depth (93% of its teams in the top 100) stands out, but so does the SEC’s having 86% of its teams and the ACC’s having 80% (the Big 12 and Big East, of course, trump the latter two with 90%). The Big East might not be top-heavy in our rankings, but having nine of its 10 teams within the top 100 isn’t nothing. The AAC and A-10 are fairly well-represented, but how about the Missouri Valley and C-USA checking in with four apiece?
AMERICA EAST
Stony Brook (123)
Binghamton (343)
AMERICAN
Memphis (6)
Tulane (173)
ATLANTIC SUN
Liberty (110)
Central Arkansas (351)
ATLANTIC 10
St. Bonaventure (23)
Fordham (226)
ACC
Duke (11)
Boston College (154)
BIG 12
Texas (2)
Iowa State (108)
BIG EAST
Villanova (10)
DePaul (122)
BIG SKY
Southern Utah (120)
Idaho (331)
BIG SOUTH
Winthrop (148)
Charleston Southern (344)
BIG TEN
Michigan (5)
Minnesota (144)
BIG WEST
UC Irvine (127)
Cal State Northridge (337)
CAA
James Madison (147)
UNC Wilmington (270)
CONFERENCE USA
UAB (50)
Middle Tennessee (265)
HORIZON
Wright State (102)
IUPUI (338)
IVY LEAGUE
Yale (138)
Cornell (339)
MAAC
Iona (88)
Canisius (302)
MAC
Buffalo (85)
Western Michigan (294)
MEAC
Norfolk State (218)
UMES (358)
MISSOURI VALLEY
Loyola Chicago (32)
Evansville (220)
MOUNTAIN WEST
San Diego State (36)
Air Force (325)
NORTHEAST
Bryant (177)
CCSU (349)
OHIO VALLEY
Belmont (57)
UT Martin (342)
PAC-12
UCLA (4)
Cal (163)
PATRIOT LEAGUE
Colgate (109)
American (335)
SEC
Kentucky (9)
Georgia (152)
SOUTHERN
Chattanooga (115)
Western Carolina (340)
SOUTHLAND
Nicholls State (212)
Houston Baptist (352)
SWAC
Prairie View A&M (208)
Mississippi Valley State (357)
SUMMIT LEAGUE
South Dakota State (114)
Denver (345)
SUN BELT
Louisiana (103)
Little Rock (275)
WAC
New Mexico State (96)
Chicago State (356)
WCC
Gonzaga (1)
Portland (293)
For SI's full 1–358 rankings, click here.
More College Basketball Coverage:
64 Reasons to Be Excited for the CBB Season
Men's National Player of Year Candidates
• Top Men's Breakout Player Candidates
• Coaches on the Rise Entering 2021–22
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