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Figures That Tell a Story
December 09, 1957
The perennial hot debate about which conference plays the best brand of basketball is analyzed in a set of charts specially prepared for the partisan fans
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December 09, 1957

Figures That Tell A Story

The perennial hot debate about which conference plays the best brand of basketball is analyzed in a set of charts specially prepared for the partisan fans

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VERSUS NONCONF.

VERSUS TOP 20

CONFERENCE

WON-LOST

PCT.

WON-LOST

Big Seven (Eight)

45-16

.738

7-9

Atlantic Coast

58-21

.734

5-3

Southeastern

80-32

.714

2-12

Big Ten

49-35

.583

8-12

Southwest

39-28

.582

3-8

West Coast

52-39

.571

6-14

Missouri Valley

54-44

.551

6-15

Ivy

43-37

.538

0- 4

Ohio Valley

44-39

.530

1-13

Pacific Coast

44-39

.530

2-5

Rocky Mountain

39-38

.506

1-1

Yankee

41-41

.500

0-0

Mid-American

38-41

.481

0-4

Border

37-45

.451

0-8

Skyline

37-51

.420

3-20

Southern

38-63

.376

0-9

CONFERENCE RECORDS, 1956-57

One excellent test of comparative conference strength is the won-lost record that the teams compile against nonconference opponents. The flaw in this test, however, is the fact that each conference's outside schedule differs in quality of opposition. To balance the first test, therefore, it is necessary to compare it with the conference's record against the top 20 teams in the country, according to the final ratings of the Associated Press poll. Below are both of these cumulative records for the 1956-57 basketball season.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

TOP TEN RATINGS, 1949-57

The AP ratings, which have been in operation for nine full seasons, show that both the Southeastern and Big Ten conferences have each placed teams among the top 10 in the year's final poll no less than 12 times. But the SEC's claim to over-all strength is weakened by the fact that Kentucky alone has accounted for eight of these listings.

THE NCAA TOURNAMENT, 1948-57

The chart below takes into account all games played by the representatives of each major conference in each of the last 10 NCAA championships. It appears that the West Coast and Middle Atlantic conferences have the best claim to over-all strength, but it should also be pointed out that San Francisco posted a 12-1 record for the WCAC over the last three years, while LaSalle totaled 9-1 for the Mid-Atlantic in '54 and '55.

If the statistics on these pages give a good indication of which conferences are the strongest, they also demonstrate that some are surprisingly weak, namely the Southern and the Skyline. The current Southern Conference membership has not won an NCAA tournament game in any of the last 10 years, has put only two among the top 10 and last year showed up badly against nonconference opponents in general (38-63) and the best 20 in particular (0-9). The Skyline was 37-51 against only fair outside competition, a dismal 3-20 against the best and shows no strength whatsoever in the AP poll or the NCAA tourney. Another surprise is how badly the Southeastern, with three teams among the top 15, did against the best of the rest in the nation (2-12).

Rating very high on the basis of good showings in all categories is the Big Seven. The fact that almost one-third of its outside games were against the very best indicates a strong schedule; its 45-16 record (best in the nation) indicates a strong league. But each reader should judge for himself on the basis of the facts. That is exactly what we suggest you do.

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