STANZ: How good are Big 12 defenses? Historically good.

We all know the defenses in Big 12 men’s basketball this season are good.

All 10 of the league’s teams rank inside of the top-35 nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defense while three are in the top-10 and five are in the top-20. Points don’t come easy in the Big 12.

But, these defenses are not just great nationally by the standards of 2021-22. They are historically great as a whole.

At this point, the Big 12 stands as the first men’s basketball conference since 2008 to have a league-wide average adjusted defensive efficiency below a 91 rating. The current Big 12 adjusted defensive efficiency rating… is 90.0.

That 90.0 rating is more than a point and a half better than the second-best league-wide rating produced during that span, a 91.6 by the Big 12 in 2019-20.

To make it even crazier, only 12 leagues have ever produced adjusted defensive efficiency averages lower than a 94. The Big 12 has achieved that feat four times (2022, 2020, 2015, 2008), which is tied with the Big Ten for the most since 2008.

Here are the top-10 league-wide adjusted defensive efficiency ratings since 2008, according to numbers compiled from

12022Big 1290.0
22020Big 1291.6
32013Big Ten92.1
42013Big East92.4
T-62015Big 1293.0
T-62020Big Ten93.0
82020Big East93.5
T-92009Big Ten93.6
T-92008Big 1293.6

It is worth noting that the average D1 efficiency rating has decreased by several points ever since the 3-point line was moved back prior to the 2019-20 season.

That fact has made it slightly easier for a league to produce lower adjusted defensive efficiency averages, but it remains notable the Big 12 is not just great defensively by 2021-22 standards.

Points have never been harder to come by in any league than they are right now in the Big 12.

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.