Which BCS Conference Team is the Worst?

December 20th, 2010
A familiar argument early in the season is which conference is tops. The preseason hype tended to go in the direction of the Big Ten, but with strong starts by the Big East and Big 12 there has been room for discussion. But what about the opposite end of the spectrum: which BCS conference member is the worst team to this point in the year? Unlike the best conference question, that answer has been rather straightforward as the Auburn Tigers have put forth quite the display of ineptitude through the first ten games of the Tony Barbee era. Lacking experience and dealing with some key injuries, the Tigers may be slipping under the radar in their own town thanks to the exploits of the football team and fans looking forward to their bowl game on January 10th. The hope for January 11th (besides the celebration of a national title): that Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton announces that he'll be joining the basketball team. Below is a breakdown of each of the BCS conference members currently with a losing record in alphabetical order, beginning with the team that may be the least deserving to be on the list.

Alabama (5-6)
Wins: Florida A&M, Troy, Alabama A&M, South Alabama, Southeast Louisiana
Losses: Seton Hall, Iowa, Saint Peter's, Purdue, Providence, Oklahoma State
Pomeroy: 74
Sagarin: 163
*Five of the Crimson Tide's six losses have come against teams from BCS leagues

The above note is exactly why Anthony Grant's team shouldn't be on here but they make the list simply because of their record. The Crimson Tide don't own any eye-popping victories, and five of their six defeats have come to teams in BCS conferences (with three of those losses on a neutral floor). Alabama is one of the better defensive teams in regards to efficiency and the triumvirate of Tony Mitchell, Senario Hillman and JaMychal Green is talented enough to make some things happen offensively. Ken Pomeroy projects Alabama to win eight games in the SEC this season, a number that isn't far-fetched when considering the strength (or lack thereof) of the SEC West. With their next three games at Coleman Coliseum look for the Tide to make their way off of this list.

Auburn (3-7)
Wins: Middle Tennessee, Georgia Southwestern, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Losses: UNC Asheville, Samford, Campbell, Jacksonville, Rutgers, USF, Presbyterian
Pomeroy: 225
Sagarin: 306 (in between Longwood and Manhattan)
*Frankie Sullivan (knee) returned to the lineup last night

Things got off to a bad start in the summer when leading returning scorer Frankie Sullivan went down with an injury to his left knee. Sullivan's trying to give it a go, beginning with their loss last week at USF, but he doesn't look 100% and what good does that do for a team that needs a capable creator offensively? The Tigers are the lone team in the SEC with an adjusted offensive efficiency under 100 (96.7), and five of their seven losses have come to teams ranked 172 or worse in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. You'd like to say that their next three games (USC Upstate, Georgia Southern and Grambling) are likely wins, but what is a "likely win" for Auburn? If any of Gene Chizik's guys are as good on the court as they are at Jordan-Hare maybe they can make their way over once football season ends.

DePaul (5-6)
Wins: Chicago State, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan and Milwaukee
Losses: Western Carolina, Oklahoma State, Cal-State Northridge, Stanford, Indiana State, Ball State
Pomeroy: 197
Sagarin: 262 (in between UIC and Bethune-Cookman)
*Only Big East team not in the Top 100 of the Sagarin

Many expected there to be an adjustment period for the Blue Demons in the first year of the Oliver Purnell era, but a 0-3 showing in the 76 Classic didn't help the process. Included in that trip was an 88-66 loss to a rebuilding Cal-State Northridge squad, and the other 22-point beating the Blue Demons have taken this season came at the hands of Indiana State. DePaul hasn't been the most efficient team offensively and that was to be expected given their personnel. But to be allowing an effective field goal percentage of 51.1% (241st in America) certainly doesn't help matters. The good news for DePaul throughout the remainder of their non-conference slate is that four of their six losses have come by seven points or less. The bad news: they have to deal with Big East play, and as the lone team below 100 in the Sagarin it's likely going to be another long conference season in the Windy City.

Oklahoma (5-6)
Wins: Coppin State, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern, Gardner-Webb, Oral Roberts
Losses: Kentucky, Virginia, Chaminade, Arkansas, Arizona, Cincinnati
Pomeroy: 114
Sagarin: 125
*Lone team on this list with a loss to a Division III program (Chaminade)

After starting the season 3-0 Jeff Capel's team has lost six of their last eight (including five in a row immediately after that start), and they managed to set themselves apart from the other teams on this list by losing to a Division III squad (Auburn's loss to Division II Columbus State came in an exhibition) in the Maui Invitational (Chaminade). Why have the Sooners struggled? The same as just about anyone else on this list: the absence of a player who can make things happen in a variety of ways offensively. Cade Davis, who is also Oklahoma's lone senior, is a good shooter and players such as Steven Pledger and Andrew Fitzgerald can also score. But who's getting them the basketball? Oklahoma has a turnover percentage of 23%, and opponents are shooting 39% from behind the arc. But they, like Alabama, have lost five of their six games to teams from BCS leagues and you can definitely argue that they've had the toughest schedule to date. But given the start for the top of the Big 12 it could be a long year in Norman.

Oregon State (4-6)
Wins: Texas-Arlington, Charlotte, Howard, Texas-Pan American
Losses: Seattle, Texas Southern, Utah Valley State, Colorado, Montana, George Washington
Pomeroy: 188
Sagarin: 266 (in between Southern Utah and Mississippi Valley State)
*last night's loss at Montana moved the Grizzlies to 2-0 in Pac-10 play

The good news for Craig Robinson on Saturday was that the highly touted Roberto Nelson was finally able to play. But it didn't matter much as Oregon State fell at home to George Washington in their fifth loss to a team from a non-BCS conference this season. Oregon State owns three losses to teams with a Pomeroy ranking of 275 or worse, making for a stunning start for a team with one of the worst schedules in college basketball (SOS: 333). Three of the four wins have come at the expense of teams ranked 287 or worse (Howard and UTPA are in the 300s), but they receive a minor boost for being able to beat Charlotte (which Tennessee could not do). What works in Oregon State's favor is the fact that the Pac-10 is once again limping into conference play, meaning that once chemistry with Nelson is established they could win a few more games than expected. And it isn't as if Coach Robinson's team lacks experience; they simply need to get better at defending (eFG% 53.6% ranks 307th) as the season wears on.

Texas Tech (5-6)
Wins: Louisiana-Monroe, Stephen F. Austin, Liberty, Georgia Southern, Oral Roberts
Losses: North Texas, Saint Mary's, USF, Washington, TCU, UTEP
Pomeroy: 105
Sagarin: 185
*One of two teams on this list (Oklahoma) to own a win over Oral Roberts

Many saw this as a big year for head coach Pat Knight in regards to his future in Lubbock and it's gotten off to an uneven start to say the least. The Red Raiders have just one win over a team ranked in the Top 100 of the Pomeroy rankings, and with Stephen F. Austin sitting at 97 that doesn't say a whole lot. Three of their other four wins have come over teams ranked 264 or worse, but on a positive note North Texas (Pomeroy: 158) is the worst team they've lost to thus far. Texas Tech executes well offensively thanks in large part to Mike Singletary and John Roberson, but this is one of the poorest shooting teams in the Big 12 when it comes to the three-pointer (31.0%). And without a bell cow in the paint that they can look to on a regular basis that hurts the Red Raiders even more. Texas Tech has their next six games at home but with the final two being Baylor and Texas they're going to need a good finish to non-conference play in order to avoid a complete nosedive.

Dishonorable Mention: Iowa (6-5), USF (6-6), Wake Forest (6-5)