Does parity exist? More so than a couple years back? Is the gap between the best and worst really shrinking? These were the questions I had in the back of mind as I did some RPI research this afternoon.
I took a look at the records of the top teams over the last handful of seasons or so, since 1999. Particularly, I focused on how many Top 50, and Top 100 RPI wins the best teams had each season. For example, going back to 1999, Michigan State had the most Top 50 RPI wins with 12. The most Top 100 wins that season was Duke with a whopping 26!
From 1999 to now, I tried to see if there was a pattern of the top teams having less good wins and the bottom teams having more good wins. This, it seems to me, would be a sign of parity. All the talk about mid-majors and whatnot, I wanted to see if it really made a difference.
Teams With 10+ Top 50 Wins
1999 = 4 (Michigan State, Stanford, Duke, UCONN)
2000 = 3 (Kentucky, Cincinnati, Michigan State)
2001 = 4 (Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, UNC)
2002 = 2 (Duke, Arizona)
2003 = 3 (Kentucky, Oklahoma, Georgia)
2004 = 3 (Kentucky, Duke, UCONN)
2005 = 1 (Illinois)
2006 = 2 (UCONN, Iowa)
2007 = 1 (UNC) so far..
Teams With 15+ Top 100 Wins
1999 = 10 (Duke, Maryland, UNC, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio State, UCONN, Kentucky)
2000 = 5 (Cincinnati, Duke, Arizona, Michigan State, Kentucky)
2001 = 9 (BC, Tennessee, Syracuse, UNC, Illinois, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Iowa, Duke)
2002 = 5 (Cincinnati, Illinois, Alabama, Duke, Arizona)
2003 = 3 (Duke, Wake Forest, Kentucky)
2004 = 5 (Duke, Georgia Tech, NC State, Kentucky, UCONN)
2005 = 6(Kansas, Wake, Oklahoma St, UNC, Washington, Duke, Illinois)
2006 = 2 (Duke, Villanova)
2007 = 1 (UCLA) so far..
Most Top 100 Wins
1999 = 26 (Duke)
2000 = 19 (Cincinnati)
2001 = 19 (Duke)
2002 = 17 (Cincinnati, Alabama, Duke)
2003 = 22 (Kentucky)
2004 = 20 (Kentucky)
2005 = 20 (Kansas)
2006 = 22 (Duke)
2007 = 15 (UCLA) so far..
# of Teams Below 150th/200th with Top 50 win
1999 = 10 below 150th - 2 below 200th
2000 = 12 below 150th - 4 below 200th
2001 = 16 below 150th - 5 below 200th
2002 = 16 below 150th - 7 below 200th
2003 = 20 below 150th - 10 below 200th
2004 = 10 below 150th - 3 below 200th
2005 = 20 below 150th - 8 below 200th
2006 = 16 below 150th - 7 below 200th
2007 = 12 below 150th - 5 below 200th so far..
First off, Duke comes out quite well in these results. They had 15+ Top 100 wins 7 of the previous 8 seasons heading into this one. That's pretty amazing. Kentucky was next with 5. But that's besides the point..
I think the numbers show that it is getting harder for the top teams to dominate like the did just a few years back. There does seem to be a downtrend in the amount of teams with 10+ Top 50 wins (though there were not many even in 1999) starting with 4, then 3,4,2,3,3,1, and 2 last year. More telling is Top 100 wins.. where the number with 15+ went from a high of 10 in 1999, to just two teams last year.
Further, there's some evidence that the worst teams are doing better. From 1999 to 2000 to 2001 to 2002 to 2003, the worst teams fared slightly better each year. Not sure what happened in 2004, where there were very few good wins by bad teams, but then it bounced back to high levels in 05 and 06.
Another thing to note is that although there appears to be parity.. it doesn't seem to be because the "mid-majors" are any better than they used to be. In fact, it seems like with the demise of the old CUSA, its rarer now than a few years back for a mid-major team to rack up a lot of quality wins. Leagues like the MWC and MVC aren't necessarily getting better. It just seems like at the very pinnacle of college basketball, the very best handful of teams just aren't nearly as dominant as they used to be.
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