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Where does the ACC rank in NCAA Tournament bids?

Over the last two seasons, no conference has sent more teams to the NCAA Tournament than the ACC. After languishing behind peer conferences such as the Big East, Big Ten, and Big 12 before expanding to 15 schools, the ACC has surged back to create a three-way tie with the Big Ten and the Big 12 in NCAA bids over the past decade.

All three Power 5 conferences have received 63 NCAA bids over the past ten seasons – an average of just over six per season. The ACC – as well as the Big Ten and Big 12 – have each secured just over 9 percent of the total invitations each.

Since the NCAA expanded the NCAA Tournament field to 68 teams in 2011, there have been a total of 672 NCAA Tournament invitations extended since 2009. The top eight major conferences in terms of total bids over the past decade – the Big East, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10/Pac-12, SEC, Atlantic 10, and Mountain West Conferences – have secured 409 of the total bids – slightly over 60 percent. On average, approximately 27 out of 68 annual NCAA bids are going to mid-major conferences. But the overwhelming majority of those are automatic bids, determined by conference tournaments.

 

Big East still holds the crown

Over the last decade as a whole, the Big East leads the ACC in total NCAA bids. But much of the Big East’s higher total comes from earlier this decade, before the ACC plucked Louisville, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Pitt away. The ACC’s ability to pull four hardwood heavyweights away from the Big East has flipped the script in recent years.

The Big East received a whopping 20 invitations in 2011 and 2012 alone, including a record 11 invites in 2011. But 18 of the Big East’s bids from 2009 to 2013 were Louisville, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Pitt. Since 2015, when Louisville made its first NCAA Tournament appearance after leaving the Big East, the ACC leads the Big East in NCAA bids, 31-24.

The low-water mark for the ACC – only four bids each in 2011 and 2013, and only 13 total bids over a three-season stretch from 2011 through 2013 – coincided with the peak of the Big East’s strangehold on NCAA bids. The Big East led or tied for the most NCAA Tournament bids every year from 2009 through 2013. The defining shift came with the ACC’s plundering of the Big East’s football-playing schools.

 

Momentum in the ACC

Over the last five NCAA Tournaments (2014-2018), the ACC’s 37 invitations leads all major conferences. Only two other leagues – the Big 12 and the Big Ten – have 30 or more NCAA invites over that same period. The ACC has also upped its average number of teams invited per year from 5.2 teams per year from 2009 through 2013, to 7.4 teams per year from 2014 through 2018.

There is a direct corollary to the idea that the ACC is averaging two more teams per year in the NCAA Tournament over the last five seasons. Despite the fact that the league lost Maryland, a consistent NCAA Tournament squad under Gary Williams, yet added three others in Notre Dame, Louisville, and Syracuse that have consistently reached the Big Dance both before and after joining the ACC. The loss of those three schools also helps explain the Big East’s dip from an average of 8.6 NCAA Tournament invites from 2009 to 2013, down to 5.6 per year from 2014 through 2018.

 

NCAA TOURNAMENT BIDS BY CONFERENCE (2009-2018)

2009 

ACC 7
Big East: 7 (includes Louisville, Pitt, Syracuse)
Big Ten: 7
Big 12: 6
Pac-10: 6
Atlantic 10: 3
SEC: 3
Mountain West: 2

2010

Big East: 8 (includes PItt, Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse)
Big 12: 7
ACC: 6
Big Ten: 5
Mountain West: 4
SEC: 4
Atlantic 10: 3
Pac-10: 2

2011

Big East: 11 (includes Louisville, Pitt, Notre Dame, Syracuse)
Big Ten: 7
SEC: 5
Big 12: 5
Pac-10: 4
ACC: 4
Atlantic 10: 3
Mountain West: 3

2012

Big East: 9 (includes Louisville, Notre Dame and Syracuse)
Big 12: 6
Big Ten: 6
ACC: 5
SEC: 4
Atlantic 10: 4
Mountain West: 4
Pac-12: 2

2013

Big East: 8 (includes Louisville, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and PIttsburgh)
Big Ten: 7
Pac-12: 5
Atlantic 10: 5
Big 12: 5
Mountain West: 5
ACC: 4
SEC: 3

2014

Big 12: 7
Big Ten: 6
Pac-12: 6
Atlantic 10: 6
ACC: 6 (Syracuse, Pittsburgh’s first NCAA bids as ACC schools)
Big East: 4
SEC: 3
Mountain West: 2

2015

Big Ten: 7
Big 12: 7
ACC: 6 (Louisville’s first NCAA bid as an ACC school)
Big East: 6
SEC: 5
Pac-12: 4
Atlantic 10: 3
Mountain West: 3

2016

ACC: 7
Big 12: 7
Pac-12: 7
Big Ten: 7
Big East: 5
SEC: 3
Atlantic 10: 3
Mountain West: 1

2017

ACC: 9
Big East: 7
Big Ten: 7
Big 12: 6
SEC: 5
Pac-12: 4
Atlantic 10: 3
Mountain West: 1

2018

ACC: 9
SEC: 8
Big 12: 7
Big East: 6
Big Ten: 4
Atlantic 10: 3
Pac-12: 3
Mountain West: 2

 

Total NCAA Bids (2009-2018)

Big East 71 bids (6.8 per year since 2009 NCAA Tournament)
ACC 63 bids (6.3 per year)
Big Ten 63 bids (6.3 per year)
Big 12 63 bids (6.3 per year)
Pac-10/Pac-12 43 bids (4.3 per year)
SEC 43 bids (4.3 per year)
Atlantic 10 36 bids (3.6 per year)
Mountain West 27 bids (2.7 per season)

 

NCAA Bids (2009-2013)

Big East 43 bids (8.6 per year)
Big Ten 32 bids (6.4 per year)
Big 12 29 bids (5.8 per year)
ACC 26 bids (5.2 per year)
SEC 19 bids (3.8 per year)
Pac-10/Pac-12 19 bids (3.8 per year)
Atlantic 10 18 bids (3.6 per year)
Mountain West 18 bids (3.6 per year)

 

NCAA Bids (2014-2018)

ACC 37 bids (7.4 per year)
Big 12 34 bids (6.8 per year)
Big 10 31 bids (6.2 per year)
Big East 28 bids (5.6 per year)
SEC 24 bids (4.8 per year)
Pac 12 24 bids (4.8 per year)
Atlantic 10 18 bids (3.6 per year)
Mountain West 9 bids (1.8 per year)