Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009 College Bowl Games Conference Summary Preview

Every year there is a debate about who the best team is and with the BCS we have an (imperfect) system to help us decide that, but a key factor that goes into everyone's opinion about who is best is strength of schedule and what conferences are perceived to be good or not.  Those from small conferences argue there is bias against them and traditional conferences do get the benefit of the doubt through much of the season.

What is great about the bowl games is that we get a host of inter-conference matchups that shed some light on who indeed is the best conference, and with that in mind, here is a summary of the upcoming bowl games with a slant on all of the conferences and how they fared getting teams in the bowls and how they should fare and be measured in their performance.

For a starting point,view my prior blog entry on conference comparisons and strengths.  Clearly the SEC has a clear advantage there this year, and it is less clear who is #2, but what does that mean to the bowl games?

First, lets take a look at how many teams each conference is sending to a bowl game with the teams in the conference in parenthesis and percentage of teams making it:
  • SEC - 10 (12) - 83%
  • Big-12 - 8 (12) - 67%
  • Pac-10 - 7 (10) - 70%
  • Big-Televen - 7 (11) - 64%
  • ACC - 7 (12) - 58%
  • Big-East - 6 (8) - 75%
  • C-USA - 6 (12) - 50%
  • Mountain-West - 5 (9) - 56%
  • MAC - 5 (13) - 38%
  • WAC - 4 (9) - 44%
  • Sun-Belt - 2 (9) - 22%
  • Independent - 1 (3) - 33%
That is probably a fair distribution given the conference strengths but one could argue the Big-Televen got one more than they should have this year.

So, given that these teams made it there, how should we expect each conference to do?  Using the current predictions from my computer as I write this as well as the current Vegas spread, we get:
  • SEC - 8-2 and 7-3 (differ on LSU/PSU)
  • Big-12 - 4-4 and 3-5 (differ on Nebraska/Arizona)
  • Pac-10 - 4-3 and 6-1 (differ on Utah/Cal and Nebraska/Arizona)
  • Big-Televen - 1-6 and 2-5 (differ on LSU/PSU)
  • ACC - 4-3 and 4-3
  • Big-East - 4-3 and 4-3
  • C-USA - 2-4 and 2-4
  • Mountain-West - 2-3 and 1-4 (differ on Utah/Cal)
  • MAC - 3-2 and 3-2
  • WAC - 2-2 and 2-2
  • Sun-Belt - 0-2 and 0-2
  • Independent - 0-1 and 0-1
It is interesting to see where my computer differs from Vegas, but the lesson learned here should be that judging the conferences at the end of the bowl games should not be done solely on the conferences record, but against the predicted records above.

For example, anything less than 7-3 and I'd argue 8-2 should be a disappointment for the SEC.  And if Conference USA could manage 3-3 they should be very proud.  And interestingly, if the MAC doesn't have a winning record they should be disappointed.

The reason for this is that it is all about the matchups, not just how strong a conference is.

With that, enjoy the games!