Numbers show Big 12 is best, most exciting conference

Oklahoma's Buddy Hield and Iowa State's Georges Niang meet Monday night for the second time this season. USA TODAY Sports

The top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners and No. 19 Iowa State Cyclones meet Monday night in Ames (9 ET on ESPN) in the latest edition of ranked teams facing off in the Big 12.

This season, the Big 12 has been the elite conference in college basketball. Here’s why.

Strong at the top

The Big 12 may have only 10 teams, but the quality of those teams is hard to match. The conference has nine teams ranked in the top 100 in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI), with eight of those teams ranked in the top 50. Only the ACC (nine) has more BPI top-50 teams, though the ACC has five more teams in total than the Big 12.

The Big 12’s teams have a 79.0 average BPI, highest in the nation. The ACC ranks second at 76.6. The Big 12 has a .630 winning percentage against nonconference opponents ranked in the BPI top 100, by far the best among the major conferences (the Big East is second at .596).

High-quality matchups

Exciting matchups are a theme in the Big 12. The average remaining Big 12 game has a 78.6 matchup quality, more than two points higher than any other conference (ACC is second at 76.2).

Two of the top three most exciting matchups the rest of the season will be played in the Big 12. Oklahoma’s remaining games against West Virginia and Kansas carry two of the three highest matchup quality ratings, per ESPN’s BPI.

Lack of bad teams

One of the reasons for the Big 12’s high BPI rating and high matchup quality is a lack of bad teams. The Big 12 is one of two conferences that doesn’t have a team ranked outside the BPI top 150. (The Pac-12 is the other conference.)

The lowest-ranked team in the conference is TCU (140), which managed to beat Texas (43rd in BPI) and had two close losses to SMU and Kansas, both BPI top-10 teams. The losses to SMU and Kansas were by five and seven points, respectively.