I know all of you are reeling from this morning’s blog reveal, and shoutout to D3West aka CHB for his years of service here at the Blog. It certainly has been a good run so far (and still going) and I am proud to say that I’ve blogged alongside him for the better part of 5 whole years. While we may have our arguments, not many can banter with me at his level. Also, shoutout to the man AVZ for providing another stellar interview – with another one set to come this week! I’m pumped.
Swtiching gears, it’s postseason time, and that means we’re all business. And when you’re talking about business, you’re talking about the UAA and the NESCAC. So, our resident historian/blog founder has broken out some quick number facts (what are those) for us today to give everyone a compare between our two power conferences. Take it away, Guru.
Guru: I don’t think anyone has doubts that the NESCAC and UAA are the best two conferences in the country. However, there is an ongoing debate about which conference is better, so obviously I looked at the historical numbers in an attempt to draw some conclusions about the two conferences. I looked at both year-end finishes as well as NCAA performance. While we saw two conferences that were very closely matched in one of those categories, things were pretty lopsided in the other category.
I looked at the past nine seasons and the numbers you’ll see below are the cumulative number of teams that each conference has put into the category listed.
Top 15: NESCAC 39 (4.3 per season); UAA 31 (3.4 per season)
Top 10: NESCAC 26 (2.9 per season); UAA 25 (2.8 per season)
Top 5: NESCAC 16 (1.8 per season); UAA 16 (1.8 per season)
As you can see above, the NESCAC has a comfortable edge when looking at the top 15, but once we move into the top 10 and top 5, things are virtually even. This would imply that the NESCAC has slightly more depth than the UAA, which I think most people would consider to be true. However, when you look at the amount of top-tier teams from each conference, they are about the same. That has begun to shift a little bit recently. The UAA had an unprecedented 2016, with five teams finishing top 8 in the country. Additionally, the UAA had four top 10 teams in 2014. The NESCAC has not had more than three teams finish top 10 in any of the seasons examined.
Quarterfinalists: NESCAC 21 (2.3 per season); UAA 22 (2.4 per season)
Final Four: NESCAC 14 (1.6 per season); UAA 14 (1.5 per season)
Finalists: NESCAC 9 (1.0 per season); UAA 4 (0.4 per season)
Champions: NESCAC 5 (0.6 per season); UAA 2 (0.2 per season)
This is where we start to see some separation between the two conferences. The UAA has actually had more quarterfinalists by one team and that gap could be wider if not for some upsets last season. In quarterfinals, the UAA is 14-8 and the NESCAC is 14-7. While this is still fairly even, the real separation between the two conferences occurs in the semifinal round. The NESCAC is 9-5 in semifinals and the UAA is 4-10. This poor record from the UAA is mostly Wash U with six semifinal losses, but Emory has contributed two and Chicago has contributed two. However, after Emory and Wash U met in the final in 2008, the UAA semifinal record is an abysmal 2-10. The NESCAC on the other hand, has been excellent in the semifinals. Of the 18 total teams that have played in the finals during the past nine years, the NESCAC accounts for half of them. I’d say that’s quite a bit of dominance late in the tournament. And of the nine national champions, the NESCAC has five versus two for the UAA.
Top 15: 70 out of 135 (51.9%)
Top 10: 51 out of 90 (56.7%)
Top 5: 32 out of 46 (69.6%)
Quarterfinalists: 43 out of 72 (59.7%)
Final Four: 28 out of 36 (77.8%)
Finalists: 13 out of 18 (72.2%)
Champions: 7 out of 9 (77.8%)
When you combine the stats of the two conferences, it’s downright impressive. They have accounted for more than half of all teams that have finished top 15 in the past nine years and they have accounted for 70% of all teams that have finished in the top five. When looking at the NCAA tournament, you can count on three of the four NCAA semifinalists being from the NESCAC and UAA. Last year, these conferences went four for four in the Final 4. The only finalists who have not come from the UAA or NESCAC are Santa Cruz, Kenyon, and CMS. And with the exception of Cruz in ‘09 and CMS in ‘15, all other national champions have come from the UAA or NESCAC.
AS: Mic Drop, here. What do you guys think? Do the numbers tell the story? Let us know in the comments. ASouth, OUT.