All right, we know the Big East is the best college basketball conference in the land. There's no denying it. The conference got five teams into the Sweet 16 and has two teams in the Final Four.
But which is the second-best conference? The Big Ten? The Big 12? The ACC? I know, it doesn't really matter. But there aren't any games until Saturday, so it's just a topic to throw around during these off-days.
I've pulled out some numbers on the tournament performances of each of those three conferences.
Big Ten (7 teams in)
Seeds: 2, 5, 5, 8, 10, 10, 12
If all Big Ten teams played to seed, it's record would be: 6-7
The Big Ten's actual record: 8-6
Big 12 (6 teams in)
Seeds: 2, 3, 3, 7, 8, 9
If all Big 12 teams played to seed, it's record would be: 9-6
The Big 12's actual record: 11-6
ACC (7 teams in)
Seeds: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 7, 10
If all the ACC teams played to seed, it's record would be: 12-6
ACC's actual record: 7-6
We're going to go ahead and eliminate the ACC from this discussion. North Carolina might very well win the national championship, but as a whole, the conference has underachieved. The Big Ten has to rate ahead of the ACC, because two Big Ten teams (Michigan and Wisconsin) upset ACC teams (Clemson and Florida State) in the first round.
So, that leaves the Big 12 and the Big Ten. I think the Big Ten had a better regular season than the Big 12 -- it's a deeper conference overall. But the Big 12 had a nice tournament, and that's a good barometer of conference strength.
Here's the arguments for each conference:
For the Big Ten:
1. Michigan State, the Big Ten conference champ, beat Kansas, the Big 12 conference champ, twice. Including once in tournament play.
2. Michigan State also beat Texas and Oklahoma State during the regular season.
3. Illinois clobbered Missouri on a neutral court in December.
4. Iowa, the 10th place team in the Big Ten, beat both Kansas State and Iowa State of the Big 12.
5. The Big Ten's best team, Michigan State (pictured above), is still alive. No Big 12 team made the Final Four.
For the Big 12:
1. All six Big 12 teams to qualify for the tournament won at least one game, while the Big Ten went a mediocre 4-3 in the first round.
2. The Big 12 placed three teams in the Sweet 16, while the Big Ten had only two. While no Big 12 team made the Final Four, two made the Elite 8.
3. Every Big 12 team played to seed in the tournament, while Illinois and Ohio State of the Big Ten bowed out early.
4. Oklahoma beat Purdue in overtime during the regular season.
5. Texas beat Wisconsin during the regular season.
So, there's the case for both conferences. Which is better? You be the judge.