The RPI, which some in college basketball like to use as an indication of a team or league’s strength, stands for Really Poor Indicator.
So it matters not what the Big 12 or any other league is ranked in it. The truth is, nobody ever has come up with a worthwhile indicator of a conference’s relative strength.
So everybody guesses.
“I think this year, nationally, the perception is that it’s great,” Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self said of the Big 12. “I think the perception is it’s not a top-heavy league, it’s a parity league, which I think is fair. The difficulty in our league is that there are only 10 teams. The reality in some leagues, you may have 14 or 15 teams, so you have five or six, really, really, really tremendous teams at the top, but you could have four or five teams that maybe aren’t as strong toward the bottom.”
No system addresses that disparity of league sizes.
It’s called Tournament Victories per Member, TVM for short. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of it. I just invented it. Abandon all acronyms, save TVM.
The formula is as simple as its inventor: After the Final Four, divide the number of NCAA Tournament victories for a conference by the number of members in that league.
Looking back at the seasons since Self has coached at Kansas, the Big 12, with .651 NCAA Tournament victories per conference member, ranks fourth among six power conferences, behind the Big Ten (.742), Big East (.706) and ACC (.679) and ahead of the SEC (.588) and Pac-12 (.526).
The Big East has lost key members, so it’s reasonable to believe the Big 12 has moved ahead of it into third among Div. I basketball conferences, at least for as long as the leagues remain so aligned.
In Self’s 11 completed seasons, the Big 12 had the highest TVM in 2008 and 2012, both times with one tournament victory per member, 12 in 2008, 10 in 2012. The Big 12’s worst performances came in 2006 (next-to-last) and 2013 (last).
NCAA Tournament victories per conference members from 2005 through 2014
1 - Big Ten .742;
2 - Big East .706;
3 - ACC .679;
4 - Big 12 .651;
5- SEC .588;
6 - Pac-12 .526.
Best conference performances in past 12 years, based on NCAA Tournament victories per member school
1 - 2004 ACC 1.66;
2 - 2013 Big Ten 1.17;
3t - 2005 ACC 1.09;
3t - 2005 Big Ten 1.09;
5 - 2006 SEC 1.08;
6 - 2009 Big East 1.06;
7t - 2008 Big 12 1.00;
7t - 2012 Big 12 1.00;
7t - 2007 Pac-12 1.00;
10t - 2012 Big 12 .92;
10t - 2009 Big 12 .92.