This table presents the results of three “Tobit” estimations of the effects of RPI and conference membership on seedings in the NCAA Tournament.
The first column reports the results for a model that includes each teams RPI, its conference membership, and “interaction” terms for each combination of RPI and conference so that the slopes can differ across conferences. RPI has a strong negative relationship with seeding, and that relationship is steeper for mid-major teams, and steeper still for majors.
The second column tests the hypothesis that the slope for majors and mid-majors are the same. Here I include a variable that measures RPI for all major and mid-major teams together, then include a separate measure for the major conference teams. If the majors and mid-majors followed the same path, the term for majors only in model (2) should be zero. Since it is not, I maintain the distinction between majors and mid-majors in model (3).
This is the model where I add in whether a team won a conference championship. Champions from single-bid conferences actually have lower seeds because they are included in the Tournament automatically. Since many of these are among the weaker teams, a tournament winner from a conference like the Colonial or Ivy receives a worse seeding than an average at-large team at the same RPI.
When we turn our attention to the mid-majors and majors, though, conference champions receive a substantial seeding bonus. Mid-major champions have better (lower) seedings by a factor of 1.4. For major champions the effect is a whopping 2.6 ranks. Given the usual denigration of the conference championships by basketball pundits, these are surprisingly large effects indeed.