The Crowded East

5 01 2009

blair

Big East Basketball is all the rave.  As of tonight, the super-conference has nine teams in the AP Top 25.

Read and weep: nine of sixteen are ranked.

Wow.

Some say that because the Big East has at least four more teams that most of the other power conferences, it’s expected that they perform better as a whole.

The size issue may be a demerit but I feel that Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Georgetown and Notre Dame are good enough to go deep into March.

And top-to-bottom the Big East is undoubtedly the best basketball conference in the country.   Imagine being Rutgers and playing #2 Connecticut, #3 Pittsburgh and an out-of-conference #1 North Carolina all in the same week.  I almost feel bad for the Scarlet Knights.

Does competitiveness top-to-bottom make a better conference or is it the amount of teams that are capable of getting to the Final Four?

The argument personified is the Big Ten versus the ACC.  The Big Ten is coming off a pretty weak couple of years.  Purdue and Michigan State are backed by solid play from an entertaining Michigan team as well as a surprise Minnesota squad.

However, what the ACC loses in depth, the top-heavy conference makes up for in power with Duke, Carolina and Wake Forest in the AP Top 5.

So who’s the second-best conference in the nation?  And what constitutes a “better conference?”

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3 responses

10 01 2009
mao

My argument a few years ago would’ve been ACC is the better conference because there are consistently good teams that come out of it and it’s a solid group of relatively unchanged schools. But since adding the three extra teams, I just can’t say that anymore (though I’m sure people of my dad’s generation feel the same way about Florida State and Georgia Tech and wonder where South Carolina went, haha).

There are some solid teams in the Big East for sure but in a head-head game, I’ll take Carolina, Duke or Wake in almost every case. I think Pitt is terribly overrated. I like UCONN and Georgetown but don’t think they’re better than UNC or Duke.

11 01 2009
Ryan

There’s something wrong with UConn. They just seem to be mentally fragile for the most part.

Top-to-bottom definitely makes a conference stronger. More quality tests the good teams have to face week after week.

12 01 2009
K-man

mao & Ryan:

Pitt’s so weird too. They always go deep into the Big East tournament — I think they’ve gone to the final for the last five or six years. Then they fall flat in the NCAAs. It’s almost like they only show up for MSG games. I definitely feel you on the head-to-head bit. The cream of the ACC is stronger than the cream of the Big East.

So is NCAA tournament performance the litmus test? It’s a bit of a stretch but for discussion’s sake, would you say that Conference USA (Memphis) was a better conference than the Big Ten last year? Haha — although I don’t know where I fall in that conversation.

Although I’m obviously biased, I tend to agree with Ryan about what constitutes conference quality. Because if you extrapolate the head-to-head argument and apply it to all games, watching Pittsburgh play through their conference schedule would probably be more entertaining than watching Duke/Carolina play theirs — Pitt vs. South Florida/DePaul would seem more competitive than Duke/Carolina play UVA and NC State.

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