The Bzdelik Line
This page is dedicated to examining the trend towards parity in college basketball. While a few teams such as Gonzaga, Memphis, and Xavier have made themselves into perrenial contenders for the last decade or more, very few teams from outside the Big Six conferences made much noise in the national basketball landscape. That all changed when George Mason made it all the way to the final four in 2006. Then Butler made the title game in both 2010 and 2011, being joined in the Final Four by VCU in 2011.
The flip side of the rise of smaller conference schools has been the demise of many major conference schools. As conferences have gotten larger and more geographically diverse, the worst teams in each conference have suffered. As smaller schools are on television more, they have started to dilute the talent pools of the ACC and Pac 12 among others. Transfer rules now allow players who have graduated to travel to another school without sitting out a year, which allows more trickle down of top talent. Transfer rates are also as high as they’ve ever been, with over 25% of top 100 players transferring, and similar levels below that, while the NBA’s one year rule has led to more early defections of top talent that had previously been going straight to the NBA.. The result is that major conference teams on the whole are less experienced than those in other conferences.
More resources have also allowed schools such as Butler and VCU to retain their top coaches, inferring another advantage to these programs where they likely would have lost their star coach and their momentum all at once in the past. This has left less options for major conference schools making new hires, and many of these mediocre hires have failed to gain sound footing at their new schools. Of the 12 ACC schools in the 2011-2012 season, 8 have a first or second year head coach. Those teams finished as the 5th-12th seeds in the ACC, with some of these programs suffering the worst stretches in program history.
Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik, who set a new major conference record for futility with the Demon Deacons in 2011 (which will almost assuredly be surpassed this season, maybe by multiple teams), and also struggled in turning around Colorado, suffering the worst season in Big 12 history during his tenure there, is the namesake of this page. The Bzdelik line can be defined as the line (#200) demarking a major conference team falling in the bottom third of all Division 1 teams according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, something that was extremely rare prior to last season, but that has now happened over 200% more the past two seasons than the previous 8 seasons combined.