The Most Compact Conference In The Country Is The MAAC

Despite all the turmoil created by conference realignment, some have been better than other at keeping the geographical integrity of their league intact. In fact, the one that’s done the best job is the MAAC.

This germination for this post came from an interesting question that was raised yesterday on Twitter.

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Well, I had a bunch of free time this weekend, so I decided to figure it out. And it turns out the MAAC is the most compact conference in the country. Last season MAAC teams traveled an average of almost 1,080 miles during their conference schedule. The most? The WAC at more than 7,000 miles.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I downloaded arena data from Basketball State.
  2. I plugged those arenas in Google’s Geocoding API.
  3. I found conference away schedules by using Ken Pomeroy’s website.
  4. I then calculated the distance of the schedule using the GPS coordates of each team’s home arena.

Note: I tried doing this for 2015-16 season, but there are currently too many errors in the game location data available online for me to feel confident in the results. Because all the 2014-15 games have been played (and I checked the data), it feels much more reasonable to use it, even though it doesn’t include say NJIT in the Atlantic Sun.

You already know the extremes, but here’s the entire list:

  1. MAAC: 1,079 miles
  2. Ivy League: 1,178
  3. OVC: 1,436
  4. Big South: 1,505
  5. Patriot League: 1,646
  6. America East: 1,742
  7. MAC: 1,768
  8. Horizon League: 1,781
  9. NEC: 1,962
  10. Southern Conference: 2,009
  11. Southland: 2,337
  12. MEAC: 2,454
  13. SWAC: 2,477
  14. MVC: 2,556
  15. Atlantic Sun: 2,698
  16. CAA: 2,811
  17. A-10: 2,919
  18. Big Ten: 3,572
  19. SEC: 3,680
  20. Summit: 3,961
  21. ACC: 4,043
  22. WCC: 4,199
  23. Big 12: 4,478
  24. Sun Belt: 4,543
  25. Big East: 4,705
  26. Big Sky: 5,025
  27. Pac-12: 5,454
  28. Big West: 5,460
  29. C-USA: 6,006
  30. American: 6,659
  31. MWC: 6,988
  32. WAC: 7,238

Note: In this section you can click to enlarge any map.

In case you’re curious. Here’s what the MAAC looks like visually (it’s super compact!):

The MAAC is all clustered right around New York City in the Northeast.
The MAAC is all clustered right around New York City in the Northeast.

And here’s the Big South. One of the more surprising ones near the top of the list:

The Big South is located in Virginia and the Carolinas.
The Big South is located in Virginia and the Carolinas.

And finally, here’s why the WAC is last:

When you need to keep a conference alive you'll take members from anywhere in the U.S.
To keep a conference alive you’ll take members from anywhere in the U.S.

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