Big Ten still leads conference rankings

The Big Ten stays atop ESPN Stats & Info’s weekly college basketball rankings, which were relatively unchanged from last week. The rankings include a human element from the Top 25 polls and a computer portion, which is comprised entirely of the BPI.

The BPI is ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index. The BPI team rating takes into account the game score, where the game was played, the pace of the game and whether any of the team’s top five players were missing. For a complete explanation on the College BPI, click here.

Although the Big Ten lost Illinois from the Top 25 poll this week, the conference still controls the human bonus. Five of the top 15 teams in the AP poll are from the Big Ten, with Michigan State reaching its highest ranking (No. 13) since the week of Nov. 26. The Spartans have won five games in a row since losing their Big Ten opener to Minnesota on New Year’s Eve.

The Mountain West Conference maintained its No. 5 ranking this week, despite having just one team ranked in the AP Top 25 poll (New Mexico). The respect the conference is getting from the BPI speaks to the overall depth of the MWC. There are five Mountain West teams in the top 40 of the BPI (and Boise State just outside at number 44), tied for the third-most of any conference, and more than both the SEC and Pac-12.

The conference with the second-highest human bonus this week was the Big 12, despite only having two teams in the AP Top 25 poll -- Kansas (No. 3) and Kansas State (No. 11) -- but both are in the top 15 in the nation. While the Big East has four ranked teams, the conference also has 15 members, while the Big 12 only has 10. Therefore, the Big 12’s two ranked teams are weighted more heavily than the four Big East teams, especially considering two of those four Big East teams (Cincinnati and Notre Dame) are outside the top 20.

While the Big East may be third in this week’s human bonus, the conference continues to get the most respect from the BPI. The Big East’s seven teams in the top 40 of the BPI are the most of any conference.

The outcome of this past Saturday’s instant classic between Butler and Gonzaga may not be a reflection of where those teams rank in the BPI. Gonzaga checks in at No. 11 while Butler is ranked 42nd according to BPI. One explanation is that in Gonzaga’s games against Big Six conference opponents this season, its average scoring margin is 10.3 points per game, while Butler’s is 4.2 points per game.