Monday, December 7, 2009

How Conferences Have Fared So Far in the 2009 NCAA Women's Tourney

Thanks to a pair of upsets -- Colorado State over Washington, and Baylor over UCLA -- the Pac 10 was left with only two teams among the Sweet 16 (Stanford and Cal). On the other hand, the Big 12, with five remaining teams, and the Big 10, with four, aquitted themselves well.

These results made me curious as to how Big 10, Big 12, and Pac 10 had done against each other during the regular season. The following chart (which you can click on to enlarge) shows the answers.

Big 10 and Big 12 teams met on 10 occasions, far more than teams from either of these conferences took on Pac 10 opponents. In clashes between the Big 10 and Big 12, the Big 10 won seven times. Arguably, the two most impressive of such wins were Michigan over Nebraska, and Minnesota over Iowa State. In fairness, these match-ups were not necessarily balanced in terms of competitiveness, as a large chunk of the Big 12's losses were by two of its weaker teams, Kansas State and Texas Tech.

Looking at the bracket, the Big 12 is assured of at least one Final Four team, with the Omaha region consisting entirely of teams from the conference (Iowa State, Nebraska, Texas A&M, and Texas). The fifth Big 12 team, Baylor, is in the same region with Penn State, so is extremely unlikely to make the Final Four.

Two-time defending NCAA champion Penn State is one Big 10 team that's a prohibitive favorite to make the Final Four. Illinois and Michigan comprise half the Stanford regional, but the host Cardinal and Hawai'i will be tough opposition. Minnesota, playing its regional at home, would arguably be favored to join the Final Four.

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