One of the biggest debates this college basketball season was which conference was the most superior in all the land, the Big East or the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)?
Personally, I believe this is no competition. While there is no doubting the talent and incredible competition in the ACC, I don’t believe it should even be in the same sentence as the Big East.
Granted, the Big East has 16 teams and there are four or five teams that really aren’t that great, but overall there is no question. The Big East was the best conference this season.
If not for the surprising struggles of Notre Dame and Georgetown, the Big East would have had nine teams in the NCAA tournament. Throw in Cincinnati, Seton Hall, and Providence, three teams expected to have legitimate chances at making it in, and it’s no surprise that preseason polls predicted the Big East to get 10 or 11 teams in.
Despite getting "only" seven teams in, the argument of best conference still heavily favors the Big East.
Three of the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament hail from the Big East. Six Big East teams won their first round game and five made it to the Sweet 16, while just three ACC teams won their first game and just two made the Sweet 16.
Four ACC teams were upset in the first round, including Wake Forest, once ranked No. 1 in the country, getting a beat-down from Cleveland State.
With still one day of games to go before the Elite Eight begins, the Big East currently has three teams in the Elite Eight, with the potential of getting five teams there, while the ACC has just one team left.
Yes, both conferences got seven teams in, and the fact that the ACC has four less teams than the Big East would seem to indicate that it was far superior to the beasts in the East. However, this is clearly not the case.
Let’s take out the bottom four teams from the Big East so each conference has 12 teams and compare the teams from each conference which did not make the tourney.
In the ACC, you have Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Virginia, and Georgia Tech.
In the Big East, you have Notre Dame, Georgetown, Providence, Cincinnati, and Seton Hall.
All five Big East teams were over .500 and had at least seven wins in conference play. In the ACC, only three were over .500 and just two of them had at least seven wins in conference play.
Granted, the ACC plays two less conference games, but if they played the same amount as the Big East, they still only could have had three out of the five teams with seven conference wins.
Now, Providence had a very solid record against conference opponents going 10-8, and the Irish of Notre Dame went 8-10. But before saying Notre Dame was overrated and isn’t a good team, think about this. They played an eight-game stretch in which seven of those games included Louisville twice, Uconn, Marquette, and road games against Syracuse, Pittsburgh and UCLA.
Find me a team that had a tougher stretch then that. Not to mention Notre Dame played six total games against the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament. Again, find me a team that played that kind of schedule.
There are numerous arguments for and against both the ACC and Big East, but when it comes down to it, there are far more arguments that support the Big East as the toughest conference than there are that support the ACC as the toughest.`