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Figures That Tell a Story

The perennial hot debate about which conference plays the best brand of basketball is analyzed in a set of charts specially prepared for the partisan fans


One excellent test of comparative conference strength is the won-lost record that the teams compile against nonconference opponents. The flaw in this test, however, is the fact that each conference's outside schedule differs in quality of opposition. To balance the first test, therefore, it is necessary to compare it with the conference's record against the top 20 teams in the country, according to the final ratings of the Associated Press poll. Below are both of these cumulative records for the 1956-57 basketball season.








1 Oklahoma Slate, though now a member of the Big Eight conference, is included in the Missouri Valley compilation, contributing a 6-5 record, including one runner-up and one fourth-place finish. Not included with the Missouri Valley total is the record of Bradley in the 1954, and 1955 tournaments, when it was not a conference member. Bradley's record for those two years was 6-2, including one second-place finish.
2 Texas Tech, though now a member of the Southwest Conference, is included in the Border Conference total, contributing a 0-1 record.

If the statistics on these pages give a good indication of which conferences are the strongest, they also demonstrate that some are surprisingly weak, namely the Southern and the Skyline. The current Southern Conference membership has not won an NCAA tournament game in any of the last 10 years, has put only two among the top 10 and last year showed up badly against nonconference opponents in general (38-63) and the best 20 in particular (0-9). The Skyline was 37-51 against only fair outside competition, a dismal 3-20 against the best and shows no strength whatsoever in the AP poll or the NCAA tourney. Another surprise is how badly the Southeastern, with three teams among the top 15, did against the best of the rest in the nation (2-12).

Rating very high on the basis of good showings in all categories is the Big Seven. The fact that almost one-third of its outside games were against the very best indicates a strong schedule; its 45-16 record (best in the nation) indicates a strong league. But each reader should judge for himself on the basis of the facts. That is exactly what we suggest you do.