College Basketball Insider

Yes, it's possible for the MWC to be great but only have one ranked team

Steve Alford scanned the Associated Press poll on Monday.

He then described himself as "amazed."

"[The Mountain West Conference] only [has] one team ranked," Alford told the Albuquerque Journal. "To be the third-best league in the country and only have one ranked team is bothersome. It really is."

On some level, I understand Alford's frustration -- as does the Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy -- because the Mountain West is ranked second in the RPI and fourth at KenPom.com, which averages to third and makes it one of the nation's best conferences. But it should be noted that the same formulas suggesting the Mountain West is among the best leagues are also suggesting that the majority of the Mountain West's quality teams are merely borderline Top 25 outfits, meaning there's nothing that amazing about the Mountain West only having one school in this week's AP poll.

Take KenPom.com, for instance.

The Mountain West has five of its nine schools in the KenPom.com top 40.

It looks like this:

Anytime a league has more than half of its members ranked in the top 40 of a computer formula, that league is going to rate well as a league. It's simple (or complicated) mathematics. But I guess the point I'm trying to make is that a league rating fourth in a computer formula doesn't necessarily mean that league should have two or three or four representatives in the Top 25. One thing doesn't always correlate to the other.

Bottom line, what makes the Mountain West great this season is that more than half of the league is good and nobody is that much better than anybody else. That means we're going to have weeks when three Mountain West schools are ranked (like two weeks ago) and others when just one Mountain West school is ranked (like this week). And it'll probably be that way until Selection Sunday. And it'll usually be more right than a slight.

 
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