Ranking Top College Basketball Conferences After Notre Dame Moves to ACC
South Bend is going to be playing host to Duke, North Carolina and the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference now that Notre Dame has joined the ACC in all sports other than football and hockey.
The ACC looks more and more like it's about to become the premier conference in college basketball once Syracuse, Pittsburgh and the Notre Dame join, but are they really? How do the top conferences in college basketball stack up?
Conference strength is becoming a big part of college basketball. The regular season winner of some conferences like the ACC and Big Ten are almost automatically given No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, making playing in those conferences a big advantage.
*Note: This is my power ranking of the elite conferences in college basketball once the Irish join the ACC. This is focused on the 2013-14 season, since that is when I expect the Irish to join, and other conference realignments, such as those of Syracuse and Pitt, already in effect.
8. Big East
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Notable Teams: Connecticut, Louisville
The Big East was once head-and-shoulders above the rest of college basketball's conferences, but after an exodus of talented schools including Syracuse, Pittsburgh and now Notre Dame the conference is crumbling.
Replacing these powerhouses with schools like Houston, Southern Methodist and Central Florida just doesn't do the trick. The conference is now going to rely heavily on UConn and Louisville to keep the conference afloat.
The loss of Notre Dame continues the Big East's slide down these conference rankings, and if recruiting suffers, the conference could dip even further.
7. Mountain West Conference
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Notable Teams: UNLV, Fresno State, Nevada
While the loss of San Diego State to the Big West hurts, the Mountain West remains a good conference for basketball. UNLV is among the nation's elite teams after bringing in Pittsburgh transfer Khem Birch and three Top 100 recruits, including Anthony Bennett.
The conference also brings in Nevada and Fresno State, both of whom are on the rise, especially after Fresno got a commitment from big man Robert Upshaw.
While they're not in the top five after the loss of SDSU, the conference will overtake the Big East after Notre Dame bolts.
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Notable Teams: Xavier, St. Louis, Virginia Commonwealth, Butler
With teams like Temple, Xavier and St. Louis all recently emerging as Top 25 teams throughout the past few years, the A-10 has been on the rise.
Now that the conference is losing Temple they could have dropped, but they are bringing in both Butler and VCU to replace them.
With these new additions, the A-10 is going to boast some interesting matchups and good programs, and manage to surpass the Big East because of them.
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Notable Teams: UCLA, Arizona, Washington, California, Colorado
The conference finally hit the recruiting jackpot in the class of 2012, bringing in seven of the top 25 players and four of the top 10.
The Pac-12 looks like a power conference once more. Their increase in recruiting is fueling their rise from around No. 10 last season to No. 5 in the future.
Ben Howland and Sean Miller brought in some of the top players in the country this season and will continue to build. Cal has received a huge commitment from high-school junior Jabari Bird, while Washington and Colorado both continue to improve in their recruiting efforts.
While they aren't quite elite just yet, the Pac-12 will certainly be sending many representatives to the NCAA tournament in each of the next several years.
4. Big 12
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Notable Teams: Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State
As long as Bill Self and Kansas stay in the Big 12, the conference can't be all that bad. The Jayhawks are always among the nation's top teams. It now appears that Baylor is emerging as one too, thanks in large part to Scott Drew's efforts on the recruiting trail.
The losses of both Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC hurt, but neither program is a national contender for the 2012-13 season and their recruiting doesn't appear to be changing anything.
However, with Oklahoma State landing one big recruit after another and the addition of West Virginia providing a small boost, the conference remains among the nation's elite.
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Notable Teams: Kentucky, Florida, Missouri
As I said on the last slide, Missouri has moved to the SEC, which could be a big addition for the conference if coach Frank Haith can pick it up on the recruiting trail—but that's a big "if."
The conference already pairs the best recruiter in the game today, John Calipari, with the Kentucky Wildcats, who always compete for a national championship.
The conference also has one of the best coaches in college basketball in Billy Donovan, who is bringing in a monster Class of 2013 that will make Florida national contenders as well.
This conference is always among the elite, but if recent recruiting trends for Alabama and Mississippi State continue to impress or Missouri plays as well as last season, they could become the No. 2 conference in the country.
2. Big Ten
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Notable Teams: Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin
The Big Ten is the No. 1 conference for the this season, with every notable team listed, besides Wisconsin, as conceivable to compete for a national championship.
Indiana is the consensus No. 1 team while Michigan has one of the best starting fives in the country. Michigan State and Ohio State could be dark-horse contenders to win it all.
With a good supply of recruits coming in year after year, it took a lot of realignment for the Big Ten to be surpassed by this next conference, but in the coming years the Big Ten must settle for No. 2.
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Notable Teams: Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, North Carolina State, Notre Dame
The ACC is the biggest winner of conference realignment in college basketball—bar none.
With the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh it already appeared that they would be the premier conference in the nation, but with Notre Dame they solidified that position.
The emergence of North Carolina State as a national contender also helps give the conference three elite teams before the addition of the new three. With some of the top schools in the country, they have to be considered the best conference in the nation.