NCAA Basketball: Texas Southern at Texas Tech

How much does NCAA Tournament success matter in evaluating the pecking order of college basketball conferences? It's a question that must be pondered when ranking the performance of the sport's power six conferences from the 2022-23 season. Unlike in the 2021-22 campaign when the Big 12 ranked as our No. 1 conference after producing the national champion following a great regular season, things aren't so clear this time around.

The Big 12 enjoyed another excellent regular season but did not send a team to the 2023 Final Four. Also complicating the conference hierarchy are the contradictions of the Big Ten and the Big East. The Big Ten performed well in head-to-head matchups with the Big East, sent a larger percentage of its teams to the Big Dance and ranked 23.5 spots higher in average NET ranking at season's end. 

However, a Big East team hoisted the national championship trophy on April 3 while the Big Ten's beefy NCAA Tournament contingent watched from home following yet another disappointing postseason performance for the conference. Elsewhere around the country, the SEC dropped one spot from last season while the ACC and Pac-12 continued bringing up the rear.

In our annual conference power rankings, we've combined a number of factors, incorporating the regular season, NCAA Tournament and overall talent to take a full snapshot of the conference landscape in college basketball from the 2022-23 season.

Draft prospects were taken from the latest CBS Sports NBA Big Board, which features the top 50 prospects for the 2023 NBA Draft. Here is last year's final conference power ranking.

1. Big 12

This season snapped the Big 12's streak of four straight NCAA Tournaments with a team in the Final Four, but the league had two Elite Eight teams in Kansas State and Texas. Their runs were enough to make it a respectable postseason for the conference after it clearly stood out above the pack during the regular season. With no truly abysmal teams — Oklahoma was the league's worst-ranked team in the NET at No. 70 — the Big 12 became a self-sufficient cycle of Quad 1 and Quad 2 games for its members during the 2022-23 season. With BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF joining the conference next season, the calculus could change. But each of those four were top-100 teams in the NET while playing in weaker leagues this past season, and adding the Cougars gives the Big 12 another national power.


  • 1st in NCAA Tournament bid percentage: 7 of 10 (70%)
  • 3rd in NCAA Tournament record: 9-7 (56.3%)
  • 1st in top 50 NBA Draft prospects per team: .60 (six total)
  • 1st in average NET ranking: 30.2 (33.2 last year)
  • 1 in average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 21.3 (23.8 last year)

2. Big Ten

If NCAA Tournament victories are the sole barometer of success, the Big Ten does not belong at No. 2. However, the conference put together another strong season on the whole, with its average NET ranking improving thanks to some strides from the league's bottom. Only Minnesota at No. 222 finished outside the top 100 of the NET. Even an Ohio State team that finished 16-19 finished at No. 49 in the NET. Why? Because the Buckeyes beat Cincinnati, Texas Tech and Rutgers during non-league play. Their only non conference losses came against San Diego State, Duke and North Carolina. Casual fans may not be paying attention yet, but November and December matter in college basketball. The Big Ten performed well early, and it boosted the league's metrics. A few examples that may seem surprising in retrospect given how the rest of the season played out: Purdue over Marquette (Nov. 15), Indiana over Xavier (Nov. 18), Illinois over UCLA (Nov. 18), Maryland over Miami (Nov. 20) and Wisconsin over Marquette (Dec. 3).


  • T-2 in NCAA Tournament bid percentage: 8 of 14 (57.1%)
  • 5th in NCAA Tournament record: 6-8 (42.9%)
  • T-2 in top 50 NBA Draft prospects per team: .57 (eight total)
  • 2nd in average NET ranking: 54.1 (57.2 last year)
  • 2nd in average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 39.3 (45.6 last year)

3. Big East

The top of the Big East was as good or better than the top of any conference in the country. In addition to national champion UConn, Creighton was seconds away from reaching the Final Four, and Xavier made the Sweet 16. While Marquette flamed out in the second round, the Golden Eagles won the Big East regular season and tournament titles. Those four each finished in the top 18 of the final NET rankings. By comparison, the Big 12's top four of Texas, Kansas, Baylor and Kansas State finished in the top 19. Ultimately, a lack of depth hindered the Big East from climbing higher in the final rankings. Butler (125), DePaul (155) and Georgetown (240) provided nothing of value, which dragged down the league's overall metrics. With Villanova also in a transition following the retirement of coach Jay Wright, the league was missing one of its anchors in the NCAA Tournament. Considering that seven of the Big East's 11 teams were either in their first season with a new coach or final season with an existing coach, the league's overall performance for the 2022-23 season was solid. If Ed Cooley gets Georgetown going, Rick Pitino injects life into St. John's and Kyle Neptune restores Villanova to prominence, this could be the nation's top conference in the years ahead.


  • 4th in NCAA Tournament bid percentage: 5 of 11 (45.5%)
  • 1st in NCAA Tournament record: 12-4 (75%)
  • 4th in top 50 NBA Draft prospects per team: .45 (five total)
  • 4th in average NET ranking: 77.6 (64.7 last year)
  • 3rd in average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 51 (44.6 last year)

4. SEC

With six first-year coaches patrolling the sidelines, it was a transition season for the SEC, and that showed as the league's average NET ranking fell roughly 10 spots from the 2021-22 season. Complicating matters further was the regression of Auburn and Kentucky after both earned No. 2 seeds in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Both returned to the Big Dance, but neither made it past the first round. Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee each reached the Sweet 16, but none of them made it to the Elite Eight. Quietly helping the SEC salvage an otherwise mediocre season were Missouri and Mississippi State. The Tigers reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament under first-year coach Dennis Gates while the Bulldogs finished strong to reach the First Four under first-year coach Chris Jans. Without the impressive work of those two conference newcomers, the overall body of work from the SEC would have been substandard.


  • T-2 in NCAA Tournament bid percentage: 8 of 14 (57.1%)
  • 4th in NCAA Tournament record: 9-8 (52.9%)
  • T-2 in top 50 NBA Draft prospects per team: .57 (eight total)
  • 3rd in average NET ranking: 74.6 (64.1 last year)
  • 4th in average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 54.3 (43.7 last year)

5. ACC

Miami reaching the Final Four doesn't change the fact that the ACC remains down, just like Duke and North Carolina reaching the 2022 Final Four didn't erase the league's regular-season transgressions. In fact, the ACC's average NET ranking fell by a significant margin in the 2022-23 season. With strong brands like Syracuse, Notre Dame, Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina all struggling, it's no wonder the ACC is in rough shape.


  • T-5 in NCAA Tournament bid percentage: 5 of 15 (33.3%)
  • 2nd in NCAA Tournament record: 7-5 (58.3%)
  • 5th in top 50 NBA Draft prospects per team: .40 (six total)
  • 6th in average NET ranking: 108.1 (85.1 last year)
  • 6th in average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 83.7 (71.3 last year)

6. Pac-12

The Pac-12's middle class improved during the 2022-23 season as six of the league's 12 teams either reached the NIT or NCAA Tournament. But with Washington, Oregon State and Cal each outside the top-100 of the NET and Cal all the way down at No. 315, the league's overall metrics languished. UCLA and Arizona stood head and shoulders above the competition for the entire seasons. Arizona State narrowly squeaked into the First Four to keep this from being another three-bid year for the Pac-12.


  • T-5 in NCAA Tournament bid percentage: 4 of 12 (33.3%)
  • 6th in NCAA Tournament record: 3-4 (42.3%)
  • 6th in top 50 NBA Draft prospects per team: .33 (four total)
  • 5th in average NET ranking: 97.5 (93.0 last year)
  • 5th in average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 63 (71.1 last year)