Last week, we looked at what would happen if the top teams in college football decided to make their own “Super Conference.” The hypothetical idea spurred from the quick creation of the European Super League, which was just as quickly dissolved after the soccer community caused an uproar. But what if men’s college basketball also decided to put its best teams together in one conference? Most of us know that the idea would take away some of the best parts of college basketball, including the big upsets and Cinderella stories during March Madness. But just out of curiosity, let’s take a look at what that conference would like, and which programs would make the cut.
Just like with the college football “Super Conference,” the basketball edition narrowed the parameters down to three major factors: number of championships, winning percentage, and men’s basketball revenue. Revenue will again serve as the tiebreaker, while the championship counts and winning percentages include everything since 2003 and the revenue is taken from 2003 to 2018. And to keep it consistent with the football edition, we will only consider teams that are currently in Power Five conferences.
The Top 12
Louisville headlines the “Super Conference,” thanks to the third highest men’s basketball revenue and fifth best winning percentage since 2003. Michigan State follows the Cardinals after a slight drop off. The Spartans have the sixth best winning percentage and seventh highest basketball revenue during the given time period. Another drop leads to a group that was pretty close together, consisting of UCLA, Kansas, Florida State, Duke, and Tennessee. Although the Bruins have not won a championship in recent years, their top 10 revenue level and top 15 winning percentage land them in the top three. Kansas is no surprise, considering it has the highest win percentage since 2003 and won the national title in 2008. Florida State has a weaker winning percentage, but the fourth highest revenue numbers put the Seminoles in the top five. Duke is also no surprise. The Blue Devils have two championships since 2003 and the second highest win percentage. Despite having only moderate success in recent years, Tennessee has the second highest revenue to help it make the league.
Another drop leads to the last five teams to make the top 12. Pitt made the list by being in the top 20 in both win percentage since 2003 and revenue. Virginia followed with its 2019 championship and 12th best winning percentage. Syracuse’s 2003 title just made it into the parameters, and Kentucky’s low revenue numbers helped the Orange pass the Wildcats. Many would think that UK would be higher up, considering it has the third best win percentage and a championship in 2012. And Michigan rounds out the top 12, thanks to a top 15 revenue total.
Overall, most of these top teams are known as some of the top programs in college basketball. Even though Pitt and Tennessee may be surprising, Kansas, Duke, Louisville, and Michigan State have been dominant over the past two decades.
The Next Eight
14. West Virginia
17. North Carolina
Wisconsin starts the next eight, after narrowly missing the top 12. The Badgers seventh best winning percentage since 2003 carried the program. West Virginia and Florida are next on the list. WVU has the 14th highest winning percentage during the time period and being in the top 25 of basketball revenue helped the Mountaineers break a tie with the Gators. Florida’s back-to-back titles and top 10 winning percentage helps it make the “Super Conference.” Texas is next, thanks to a top 25 win percentage and revenue total.
UNC follows the Longhorns. The Tar Heels seemed like a lock since they have three championships since 2003 and the fourth highest winning percentage, but lower revenue numbers held them back. Washington, Illinois, and Arizona round out the top 20. The Huskies were boosted by the 11th best revenue totals, the Fighting Illini followed by making the top 25 in revenue and win percentage, and the Wildcats finished out the list with the eighth best winning percentage.
Outside Looking In
Three teams barely missed the cut. USC surprisingly had the best revenue numbers, but mediocre success on the court held the Trojans back. Ole Miss also had surprisingly high revenue totals, but also lacked the wins to get in. Oklahoma had a solid winning percentage since 2003 and decent revenue levels, but could not make the “Super Conference.” And although they weren’t considered since they are not in a Power Five conference currently, Villanova and UConn would have had real shots at making the cut due to their success over the past two decades.
The hypothetical college basketball “Super Conference” is pretty unlikely to ever happen, mostly because it goes against some of the key aspects that make college basketball special. But it was interesting to see which programs would make the cut, and to see that maybe WVU is more of a basketball school than a football school. Let us know what you think of the college basketball “Super Conference” and if any of the teams surprised you!