- The SEC and Big Ten received the most overall bids to the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
- The SEC and Big East have the most teams still left in this year’s tournament.
- Betting against conference narratives can be a powerful strategy.
It happens every bowl season, then again during March Madness and the extended college basketball postseason.
Conference fanboys line up to quibble over which group reigns supreme, judging basketball odds and overall sporting superiority based on how some teams fared across a one or two-game sample size.
If my tone is any indication, I’m not much for these kinds of regular-scheduled conference competitions.
But for the sake of greater public edification, I threw together a little something on how each conference has performed thus far in the NCAA Tournament.
NCAA Tournament: Which Conference Got the Most Bids in 2023?
The SEC and Big Ten each received eight bids to the NCAA Tournament, good for 57% of their respective conferences.
The Big 12 received seven bids, which was a smaller raw number. However, that’s a much larger percentage (70%) of the overall conference, given the Big 12 only has 10 members.
I’ve included a table below that should easily showcase NCAA Tournament performances by conference thus far. Any conference that received multiple bids is included; any conference that still had a team alive in the Sweet 16 is also included.
NCAA Tournament Conference Records 2023
|Big Ten (8)||6-8 (.429)|
|SEC (8)||9-8 (.529)|
|Big 12 (7)||9-7 (.563)|
|Big East (5)||12-4 (.750)|
|ACC (5)||7-5 (.583)|
|Pac-12 (4)||3-4 (.429)|
|Mountain West (4)||4-3 (.571)|
|American (2)||2-2 (.500)|
|West Coast (2)||5-3 (.625)|
|Conference USA (1)||4-1 (.800)|
|Ivy League (1)||2-1 (.667)|
Final Four Odds: How Much Does Conference Affiliation Actually Matter?
Early in the tournament, conference affiliation might be worth factoring into your handicap. When you’ve got 48 games in 96 hours, judgment by filtration does make a bit more sense.
Boise State vs. Northwestern is a good example. I saw the Broncos and Wildcats as mostly equal opponents – slow-paced and generally lacking tournament experience.
When Boise State was a slight favorite, I preferred Northwestern because of the payout and the Mountain West’s awful track record in the NCAA Tournament.
Some fans, like those that root for SEC teams, may feel validated after placing three teams in the Sweet 16 on the heels of a strong regular season.
Others may look at the Mountain West’s fast fade as more evidence that something about the conference seems fundamentally broken in the NCAA Tournament.
But none of that mattered when Alabama and San Diego State took the floor in the Sweet 16.
If anything, conference affiliation is an overly broad narrative worth fading in the college basketball betting markets. There may be extra value on a team from a conference that’s perceived as disappointing.
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