Dominant teams in conference play? Irish weren’t one of ’em

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How good was Texas before its recent Big 12 debacles? Put it this way: The Longhorns are half a game back of Kansas in the Big 12 standings, but still have the conference’s best efficiency margin. Not bad.

That’s according to John Gasaway’s latest Tuesday Truths column, which tracks teams’ tempo-free production during conference play.

Texas has outscored Big 12 foe by .2 points per possession in 15 games. (The three losses have seen the defense allow 1.17 points per trip, a significant concern for a team with the nation’s best defense.) But, Kansas is right there, outscoring foes by .18 points per trip. That’s what you call two excellent teams in one conference.

In fact, those are the best efficiency margins for any conference’s top two teams among the 13 Gasaway tracks. That’s slightly better than Xavier (.21) and Temple (.16) out of the A-10 and better than the MWC’s BYU (.19) and SDSU (.15), the CAA’s George Mason (.22) and ODU (.12) and the WCC’s Gonzaga (.17) and St. Mary’s (.14).

The Big East and Big Ten either don’t have one dominant team – Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue are bunched together – or a second-place team whose record is far more impressive than its tempo-free number. For instance, Notre Dame’s only slightly better than Marquette. Yes, the Irish torched Villanova last night, but who isn’t lately? It should provide some pause that Notre Dame hasn’t been outstanding all season. Just good.

But hey, these numbers aren’t absolutes. Sometimes a person should ignore their pre-conceived notions about a team and just accept that they’re among the best out there.

I’m just providing it a service to your bracket. Thank me later.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.