Conference Realignment Rough Cut

I have been playing around with clustering to try and realign college basketball into something that makes a bit more sense than our current conference configurations. I’m not sure I’ve succeeded, but here’s my first attempt.

In the future I’m going to include some maps (so you can visually see how these conferences are situated geographically) and some deeper explanations about the conference constituents. But if you’re just interested in the results, here they are:

A couple of notes about a few local teams:

  • I was surprised about where Iona ended up. (In cluster 18 with Saint Peter’s, NJIT, Howard and LIU Brooklyn among others.)
  • Hofstra, Stony Brook and Monmouth are all in the cluster of mid-major programs that are starting to get too big for their conferences (cluster 17). Quinnipiac, on the other hand, gets moved into a conference with similarly academically minded schools.
  • The Ivy League is basically the Ivy League (plus Rice). The league has quite a unique profile once you add in the academic profile of the schools.
  • St. John’s is in cluster 14, which is basically a combination of parts of the Big East, American and Atlantic 10, with better geographic results.
  • And Wichita State? The Shockers were added late to cluster (19) that includes mostly teams from the Mountain West.

6 Responses to Conference Realignment Rough Cut

  1. Tony April 18, 2017 at 10:18 am #

    I don’t see Army, Navy or Air Force listed in the new conferences.

    • John Templon April 18, 2017 at 10:31 am #

      Thanks Tony. I appreciate you pointing that out. I wonder if they got lost somewhere in my data collection. This also happened with Butler. I’ll definitely figure out where those schools fit in.

      • Tony April 18, 2017 at 10:34 am #

        No problem, thanks for putting this together, it’s an interesting read. Very surprised where Iona and St. Peters wound up.

    • John Templon April 19, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

      I wanted to note that I’ve done some more digging into this and the issue is that Army, Navy and Air Force don’t receive Title IV funding from the U.S. Department of Education—because they’re paid for by the Department of Defense—so they don’t have to report to the Equities in Athletics data. That means I don’t have spending data for them for men’s basketball or overall and thus can’t include them in the analysis. Unfortunately I’m most likely going to be unable to retrieve this data, so they may be excluded from this analysis. (I have filed a FOIA to Army asking for the data.)

  2. Jive36 April 18, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

    Really love your site. As a Bonaventure fan I have spent more time than I would have liked to on it the last two seasons looking at you NCAA and NIT projections. haha.

    Conference realignment is something I have spent too much time thinking about but I like that you took a scientific approach. Any plans to try to make 32 clusters so that it mimics the current number of auto bids?

    • John Templon April 18, 2017 at 6:53 pm #

      Thanks for the comment. My original clustering algorithm attempts to divide the NCAA into 32 clusters, but when I do that I end up with a few clusters that are too small and a few that are too big. (For instance Duke is actually its own cluster.) These then get re-absorbed or broken up. There are a few conferences that ended up being quite large. And I’m partial to 30 conferences, which would eliminate the First Four, if the data ultimately breaks that way.

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