You’re starting to hear it more and more. Oh, how those power conferences have really fallen. Finally, the little guy will get his revenge. The Chinese recently celebrated the Year of the Rooster and college hoops observers are starting to hail the Year of the Catamounts, Salukis, and Monarchs.

These statements have been driven in large part by the RPI – an RPI that changed its formula this season. Hey look, Vermont is in the top 20! Pacific is in the top 25! Hoo-rah! The RPI now favors teams from outside the power conferences, that should be obvious. But measuring teams by a new formula is akin to someone measuring themselves in pounds one day and kilograms the next and concluding that their diet is really working.

In a sense, it doesn’t matter whether the power conferences are really worse this year, they are going to be less represented in the NCAA Tournament. But the top six conferences aren’t suddenly having their worst season in recent memory. Sure the SEC is down. But the Big East is equally better. The ACC is a little worse, but the Pac 10 has rebounded slightly.

To fairly compare activity over the last two seasons, use a formula that has been the same over that time. You can use whatever system you want and you’ll find out there really is no change. Naturally, I will pimp my own system for this exercise. All data is through Tuesday’s games.

Top 50 Teams (Pomeroy Ratings)

        2005 2004 
ACC       6    7 
SEC       7    6 
Big XII   6    6 
Big Ten   6    4 
Big East  6    8 
Pac 10    3    2 
Total    34   33 

The non-conference records of the six conferences collectively (D1 opponents only):

2005: 593-187, .760
2004: 562-186, .751