College Basketball: Ranking the Power 6 Conferences
Now that men's basketball conferences have reached league play, we really have a feel for which teams are really good and which ones are struggling.
As a whole, which of the major conferences are the best? On the other hand, which are the worst?
Here's a look at the "power six conferences," ranked in order from worst to best, based on each one's performance so far this season.
Yes, the Pac-12 still holds the honor of being the worst "power six conference" around. It was one of the worst conferences we'd ever seen last year, but obviously has improved this season.
A huge problem with the league last year was that there was not a very good team in it, but that too has changed.
Arizona and UCLA have seemingly separated themselves from the rest of the league. Sure, the country looks at Arizona as the best Pac-12 team and one of the best teams in the country, but I have no problem calling UCLA the best team in the league.
If Arizona's narrow victories over San Diego State and Utah weren't bad enough, the Colorado debacle takes the cake.
UCLA, on the other hand, has found its stride, as it has beaten Missouri, California and Stanford in three straight games.
The bottom of the league, though, is extremely bad as Utah, USC, Washington State and Oregon State make up the cellar dwellers.
A third team needs to establish itself as possible challengers to Arizona and UCLA; whether that is Colorado, Oregon or Cal remains to be seen.
It wouldn't be a surprise if a third team doesn't step up, though, which is a big reason why this conference is still so bad.
Boy, this conference sure is bad. If it wasn't for Missouri, the SEC would be even worse than it already is.
Kentucky's drop-off obviously hurts, but the problem is that no other team has stepped up in its place.
With that being said, the Wildcats are still easily the third-best team in the conference behind Florida and Missouri.
Look at what those top two teams have been doing lately, though; Missouri recently lost to UCLA and then came back and only beat Bucknell by two at home. Florida probably isn't as great as we thought they were a few months ago either, as it has recently lost to Arizona and Kansas State.
Kentucky is getting better and better, but the rest of the league is very poor. Who is possibly the next best team: Ole Miss? Arkansas? Tennessee? None of those three are anything special.
Plus, the bottom of the league is about as bad as it gets. Mississippi State, South Carolina and Georgia are some of the worst BCS conference teams around. Vanderbilt has completely fallen off the map, while Texas A&M looks like a terrible addition this year.
Honestly, it wouldn't be too surprising if Kentucky still wound up winning this league. Florida and Missouri will be right there as well, but both teams will lose their share of games.
The SEC should be darned thankful it added Missouri this year. It's scary to think where this league would be if it didn't have the Tigers.
The ACC has been down for a few years now, and this year is no different.
Sure, Duke is one of the best teams in the country, but there's a huge drop-off after the Blue Devils.
North Carolina is nowhere near the team we thought it would be, and neither is NC State.
Maryland, Miami and Virginia look like they all could be solid, but the rest of the league behind those teams is very bad.
The ACC shares a popular trend with the other conferences mentioned so far, in that the bottom of its league is simply horrible.
Boston College, Wake Forest and Clemson are some of the worst teams around, and Florida State and Georgia Tech aren't much better.
It would be pretty shocking if Duke somehow didn't win this league. However, the notion that it could possibly go undefeated is absurd, as the Blue Devils will certainly lose a game or two they shouldn't.
That statement is even more evident when considering Duke's recent struggles with Santa Clara and Davidson.
3. Big 12
We've seen the Big 12 have a very strong league in recent years, and although it isn't as strong this year, it's still solid.
Once again, Kansas is the class of the Big 12, and honestly, it's not even close. The fight for that No. 2 spot is an interesting one, though.
Will it go to Kansas State or Oklahoma State? What about Baylor? Could Texas even creep back into things?
After an absolutely horrible start to the year, Texas is figuring things out a bit. It recently beat North Carolina and nearly won at Baylor.
New member TCU brings absolutely nothing in terms of basketball, as it is probably the worst team in the conference. West Virginia, on the other hand, is also looking like one of the worst teams in the Big 12 in its first season.
In fact, this is one of the worst West Virginia teams we've seen in a long time. However, given the Mountaineers' recent success, this move will still probably pay off in the long run.
It will be interesting to see if anyone can even challenge Kansas for the conference crown. We'll see if Kansas State or Oklahoma State has what it takes.
2. Big East
A few years ago, the Big East ruled as the king of college basketball, but it has fallen from that perch over the last year or two.
It is still obviously a solid league this year but not as strong as we've seen it in recent years.
When the Big East was at its best, it frequently held as many as four or five elite teams that were among the best in the country.
However, that is missing this year. Yes, Louisville and Syracuse fall into that category, but nobody else does.
Another thing missing is the presence of some of the traditional national powers we've come accustomed to seeing. The best example of this is Villanova. What in the world has happened to Villanova basketball? Last year was a down year for the Wildcats, but this year is even worse. It currently looks like one of the worst teams in the conference.
The success of St. John's was also short-lived, as the Red Storm have fallen off the map even with the return of Steve Lavin.
We thought Pittsburgh was turning a corner after last year's disaster, but recent losses to Cincinnati and Rutgers disprove that.
Marquette isn't at the level it has been at the past few years, and neither is UConn. West Virginia's absence was thought to weaken this league, but it actually has been a good thing so far.
Having three very solid teams in Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Georgetown plus two elite ones in Louisville and Syracuse help make the Big East the second-best conference in America.
1. Big Ten
There is absolutely no question that the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball. Honestly, you can't even make a case for any other conference to be No. 1.
Slowly but surely, Michigan and Indiana have separated themselves from the rest of the conference and have shown that they are two of the best teams in the country.
In fact, Michigan just might be THE best team in the country. If you don't want to call Indiana the second best, then it is probably either third or fourth.
Ohio State has fallen back from the pack a bit with recent losses to Kansas and Illinois, but it is still on the edge of being a great team. Minnesota is also on the edge of being a great team, as the Gophers only have one loss on the season to Duke.
Heck, you could even say Illinois is on the verge of being great if it could just show a little more consistency.
What's different about the Big Ten from basically every other league is that the bottom of the conference isn't too bad.
Penn State and Nebraska are clearly the two worst teams, but even those two have shown potential. Penn State recently nearly won at Wisconsin, while Nebraska has already proved it is better than other leagues' bottom feeders (Wake Forest and USC).
Having two elite teams at the top in Michigan and Indiana and then a plethora of very good teams that make up the middle of the league are the main reasons why the Big Ten currently rules as the king of college basketball.