Ranking college basketball conferences

Computer rankings are fine, but college basketball is all about the NCAA tournament — how many teams from a conference qualify and how many advance to the regional semifinals, regional finals and Final Four. A league’s best and worst teams aren’t always the truest indicators of a conference’s overall strength. So, with those factors as a guide, here is Times staff writer Diane Pucin’s ranking of the top 10 conferences in college basketball — with the Pac-12 hanging in there by a thread. (Records through Tuesday).

1. Big Ten

Nonconference record: 123-28 (.815).

Signature wins: Indiana def. Kentucky, 73-72; Ohio State def. Duke, 85-63; Illinois def. Gonzaga, 82-75.


Teams in the top 25: 5.

Sweet 16 possibilities: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue.

Other tournament possibilities: Northwestern, Minnesota, Nebraska.

2. Big East


Nonconference record: 151-43 (.778).

Signature wins: Georgetown def. Memphis, 91-88 (OT) and 70-59, and Alabama, 57-55; Syracuse def. Florida, 72-68; Marquette def. Wisconsin, 61-54.

Teams in the top 25: 6.

Sweet 16 possibilities: Syracuse, Marquette, Louisville, Georgetown, Connecticut, West Virginia.

Other tournament possibilities: Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Cincinnati.

3. Big 12

Nonconference record: 89-24 (.788).

Signature wins: Missouri def. Illinois, 78-74, and California, 92-53; Kansas def. Georgetown, 67-63, and Ohio State, 78-67; Baylor def. San Diego State, 77-67; Kansas State def. Alabama, 71-58.


Teams in the top 25: 3.

Sweet 16 possibilities: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma.

Other tournament possibilities: Texas, Iowa State.

4. Southeastern

Nonconference record: 101-40 (.716).

Signature wins: Florida def. Texas A&M, 84-64; Kentucky def. Kansas, 75-65, and North Carolina, 73-72; Louisiana State def. Marquette, 67-59; Mississippi State def. Arizona, 67-57.

Teams in the top 25: 3.

Sweet 16 possibilities: Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt.


Other tournament possibilities: Louisiana State, Mississippi.

5. Mountain West

Nonconference record: 65-19 (.774).

Signature wins: Conference teams are 10-2 against Pac-12 opponents; Nevada Las Vegas def. Illinois, 64-48, and North Carolina, 90-80; San Diego State def. Arizona, 61-57.

Teams in the top 25: 2.

Sweet 16 possibilities: Nevada Las Vegas, San Diego State, New Mexico.

Other tournament possibilities: Colorado State, Wyoming.

6. Atlantic 10

Nonconference record: 89-59 (.601).

Signature wins: Dayton def. Alabama, 74-62; St. Joseph’s def. Creighton, 80-71; St. Louis def. Oklahoma, 83-63; Temple def. Wichita State, 78-74 (OT); Xavier def. Vanderbilt 82-70, and Purdue, 66-63.

Teams in the top 25: 0.

Sweet 16 possibilities: Xavier, St. Louis, St. Joseph’s, Dayton.

Other tournament possibilities: Temple.

7. Atlantic Coast

Nonconference record: 99-44 (.692).

Signature wins: Duke def. Michigan, 82-75, and Kansas, 68-61; North Carolina def. Wisconsin, 60-57.

Teams in the top 25: 3.

Sweet 16 possibilities: North Carolina, Duke, Virginia.

Other tournament possibilities: Maryland.

8. Missouri Valley

Nonconference record: 73-39 (.606).

Signature wins: Creighton def. San Diego State, 85-83, and Northwestern, 87-79; Indiana State def. Vanderbilt, 61-55; Wichita State def. Nevada Las Vegas, 89-70.

Teams in the top 25: 1.

Sweet 16 possibilities: Creighton, Wichita State.

Other tournament possibilities: Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Indiana State.

9. West Coast

Nonconference record: 68-43 (.613).

Signature wins: Brigham Young def. Oregon, 79-65; Gonzaga def. Arizona, 71-60; Loyola Marymount def. UCLA, 69-58, and St. Louis, 75-68; St. Mary’s def. Missouri State, 77-61; Santa Clara def. New Mexico, 79-76 (OT).

Teams in the top 25: 0.

Sweet 16 possibilities: Gonzaga.

Other tournament possibilities: St. Mary’s, Brigham Young.

10 (t). Pac-12

Nonconference record: 88-57 (.606).

Signature wins: None.

Teams in the top 25: 0.

Sweet 16 possibilities: None.

Tournament possibilities: California, Stanford.

10 (t). Big West

Nonconference record: 44-58, (.431)

Signature wins: Long Beach State def. Pittsburgh, 86-76, and Xavier, 68-58; Cal Poly San Luis Obispo def. USC, 42-36; Cal State Fullerton def. Utah, 81-50; UC Riverside def. Washington State, 64-63.

Teams in the top 25: 0.

Sweet 16 possibilities: Long Beach State.

Other tournament possibilities: UC Santa Barbara.

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