1. B1G Ten
The deepest conference in college basketball is the B1G and it isn’t close. Every game in the conference is a chance for teams to pick up quality wins to boost their resume for a chance to make the tournament. The B1G is projected to get 12 out of the 14 teams into the tournament according to Joe Lunardi. While this league is deep, the top teams in the conference are legit contenders to win the tournament in a year where there isn’t a team that stands out among everyone else. Michigan State, Michigan, Maryland, Iowa, Ohio State, and Penn State will go deep in the tournament and show how great the B1G is. The only issue with depth is that the top teams won’t be able to get the higher seeds in the tournament. Every road game is very tough and any chance a team can pick one up is crucial to their resumes. When the worst team in the conference, Northwestern, is playing every team close, you know the conference is deep.
2. Big 12
While the Big 12 isn’t as deep as it was last season, the talent in the conference is phenomenal. The top teams Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia, and Texas Tech are the teams to watch when it comes tournament time. I would say the Big 12 has the best chance to have a team playing in the national championship. It will be interesting to see how many teams they are able to get into the tournament, but no matter how many they get those who are playing in March will shine.
A conference that is usually at the top of this list every year seems to be having an off year. Duke and Louisville have already felt the curse of being the number one team and the teams like UNC and Notre Dame don’t have the talent like they did in years past. The conference has three teams that are good, but not great and not much else. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ACC not have any teams that make it past the sweet sixteen, but in a strange year for college basketball they could have their top three teams in the final four. It will be interesting to see who wins the conference in a down year and which teams can stay away from the bad conference losses.
4. Big East
A conference that many people over look is the Big East, mainly because of the dominance Villanova has had over the last couple years. Well, this year the top of the conference is loaded and very competitive. Butler has been amazing and looks to be a top team in the country, Villanova has been able to regroup after a down year, and Providence, Seton Hall, and Marquette are quality teams with star players. The Big East should expect to have six teams in the tournament and is one of the conferences college basketball fans should pay more attention to.
5. Pac 12
The hardest conference to analyze this year has to be the Pac 12. When you think Oregon can be the best team, they have a surprising loss to Washington State. Arizona has had a tough time winning on the road and their lack of experience shows in games. Washington lost Quade Green for the year due to his academic ineligibility and hasn’t been the same since they lost him. It’s tough to judge how good Colorado is because they have great quad one wins, but surprising losses. Stanford is another team from the Pac that is hard to analyze because they haven’t had a great win. Overall, the Pac 12 is a mess and it will be fascinating to see who will step up and pull away from the pack.
Where do I even start with the SEC? Everyone looks to Kentucky and Auburn as the saviors of a bad conference, but those teams have so many questions. When you look at the rest of the conference, it seems like no one good. Tennessee is rebuilding, LSU and Florida have some questionable losses, and Georgia will only get as far as Anthony Edwards takes them. There are more questions in the SEC than any other conference and it’s hard to have any confidence in these teams.
If James Weismann was still in the conference, this league would be a little higher up in the rankings. Unfortunately, he withdrew and is focused on getting to the NBA. So, looking past Weismann the league has some solid teams, but there is a lot of opportunity for bad losses. Wichita State, Memphis, and Houston are the teams who will most likely represent the AAC.
Gonzaga, Gonzaga, Gonzaga! The WCC has the number one team in the country and that’s about it. BYU and Saint Mary’s are good teams, but no where near the level the Zags are. It will be interesting to see how Gonzaga takes care of business in the WCC and prepare themselves to make a run at a national championship.
9. Mountain West
San Diego State is the only team that is pulling its weight in the conference. They are the only undefeated team left in the country and the only legit team in this conference. Utah State has been disappointing and there isn’t any other team worth watching. San Diego State is legit and will surprise a lot of people in the tournament, but other than that this conference isn’t very interesting.