Last evening, with victories by Wisconsin and Ohio State, the Big Ten finally defeated the ACC in the 11th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Last night had 2 outstanding games. Games that really show the entertainment value that College Basketball can provide on a typical Wednesday evening. Illinois defeated a solid Clemson team while amounting a breathtaking 23 point comeback in the 2nd half. Duke hung around all game against Wisconsin and nearly stole the game on the road in Madison.
So does this mean that the Big Ten is the stronger basketball conference than the ACC? I would have to give a definitive..It Depends! The Big Ten may be a little bit deeper than the ACC this year in that they have a lot of solid teams. But as the season plays out, the ACC has 2 top ten teams in North Carolina and Duke. Yes, Duke lost last evening, but I do feel that North Carolina and Duke are capable of beating any and every team that the Big Ten throws at them come March. But the Big Ten is definitely an improving conference with great depth. Not to mention that they have a couple of Final Four contenders in MSU and Purdue. I mean they have a few top 25 teams not to mention a good bunch of 4 or 5 that are on the cusp of the top 25.
The Big Ten will definitely have some parity and upsets going on all year. Definitely a conference that will provide surprises all year. Lets just hope that the games are not as boring as the football games are in the old school conference. So far, the ACC has not really lived up to expectations. North Carolina took the early whooping from Syracuse, but seem to be back on track after dismantling a tough Tom Izzo led Spartans team. Duke lost to an unranked Wisconsin team last night. Clemson blew a 23 point lead to lose to a solid, but unranked Fighting Illini.
So really the question is how do you actually rank conferences? Is it based on who has the most ranked teams? I mean this is tough in that all the conferences have varying amounts of teams. Should you base it on aggregate records outside of the conference? This is also tough in that some of these early non conference games are some big time powder puffs. All teams non conference schedules vary immensely in difficulty and makes this is a tough measuring stick. Should it be based on which conference has the best shot of getting a team into the Final Four or multiple teams in the Final Four? I mean some conferences are very top-heavy with one superior team and this does not say much for the rest of the conference. Should it based on which team gets the most teams into the tourney? I mean this stat I like better, but once again a conference like the Big East is enormous and has 16 teams. Then the last measuring stick, is just listening to want the ESPN College Basketball gurus say and letting them influence how you think about it. This is an easy route, but some of the commentators have an extreme bias towards certain conferences and teams (Dickie V and the ACC for example)
So my question for you all is, how should the top conference in college basketball be measured each year, and using your system, which is the best conference at this point?
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.