In recent weeks, the Rise & Fall series has chronicled the progress (or regress) of college basketball's major conference teams. But if I equated each team to a civilization, I was mistaken. It is really the NCAA conference that equates to a burgeoning civilization or nation, each with its sometimes stable and sometimes rotating member states. Like civilizations, the prestige and power of conferences wax and wane..
People have been emailing me this week asking how I came up with the groupings for the Conference Rise & Fall articles. While the groupings I used were based on a mix of intuition and stats, here are the actual conference RPI's over the last decade. Notice the clean split between certain league divisions.. for example, the BCS leagues and non-BCS leagues. The difference in avg RPI between the best and worst BCS leagues (ACC & Pac-10) is 2.7, which is almost as big as the gap between the Pac-10 and the closest non-BCS league.
Continuing with my conference player rankings, its on to the Mountain West. This list was compiled just before the season started, but some names not listed have gotten off to quality starts: Andrew Henke of Air Force is averaging 15 and 7 after two consistent games. Senior Alvarado Parker is averaging 14 and 10 after two games, including a double-double in a blow out win over Rice.
Top 10 Players in the MWC
1. Brandon Ewing, G, Wyoming
2. Luke Nevill, C, Utah
3. Trent Plaisted, C, BYU
4. Wink Adams, G, UNLV
5. JR Giddens, G, New Mexico
In yesterday's Dribble.. I ranked all 73 BCS teams.. from UCLA to Colorado. I got a nice response about that list.. so I decided to do a ranking of the top "mid-major" leagues, ie, the 2nd tier leagues. The 2nd tier compromises the 62 teams of the A10, CAA, CUSA, MVC, MWC, and WAC. This leaves out the Horizon and the WCC which are the next in line. The Horizon actually has a higher overall RPI than the CAA right now, but this is based almost solely on Butler's hot start. No other HL team is in the top 110, but the CAA has 4 teams in the top 90.
1. Air Force 6-1 19-2
2. Memphis 6-0 16-3