There is no debate. The Big East isn’t the dominant conference in college basketball anymore. The glory days of the ACC are history and the big boys in college basketball reign in the Big Ten.
As of the week of Jan. 14, the Big Ten has six teams ranked in the top 25. Think about this for just a second; half of the conference is ranked 23rd or higher. The Big Ten is the current king of basketball. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why.
You don’t have to look far to find some of the nation’s elite on the sidelines when you examine this conference. With living legends such as Tom Izzo and Tubby Smith, along with other great coaches including Thad Matta, Bo Ryan, John Belein, Matt Painter and Tom Crean, it’s no wonder why so many of these teams are playing at a high level. The leadership these coaches exemplify help lead these teams to their success.
The first name that obviously jumps out when you think of post players in the Big Ten is the man from Bloomington: Cody Zeller. Zeller was at the top of a lot of Player of the Year lists in the preseason. But what you may not know is that there are plenty of other gems of bigs in the conference. DeShaun Thomas of Ohio State is a versatile scorer who is now finally the number one option on his team after the departure of Jared Sullinger. Trevor Mbakwe of Minnesota is one of the toughest posts in the nation and is currently leading the conference in rebounds.
The reason why some of these teams are so elite is because they have two, not one leaders to look to. Indiana, the preseason favorite to win the conference, relies on Zeller along with wing Christian Watford. Michigan might just have the best backcourt in the country with guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., Illinois relies on their guards Brandon Paul and Tracy Adams and the Spartans of Michigan State would be nowhere near as good as they are without the backcourt of Keith Appling and Gary Harris.
While some other conferences have a good few teams, no conference in the nation is better top-to-bottom than the Big Ten. Period.