College Basketball Handicapping: Big Ten vs. Big East
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 2/24/2010
The Big 12 and the SEC may have the top two teams in college basketball but when it comes to conference supremacy and getting the most teams in the NCAA Tournament the Big East and Big Ten have bragging rights.
In this week’s rankings No. 3 Purdue, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 14 Michigan State and No. 17 Wisconsin are all ranked in the Top 20 from the Big Ten with No. 4 Syracuse, No. 7 Villanova, No. 8 West Virginia, No. 11 Georgetown and No. 12 Pitt all ranked in the Big East.
Both conference tournaments will likely determine No. 1 and 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. From the regular season these conferences collided seven times with the Big Ten actually winning the series, 5-2, over the Big East.
Purdue defeated West Virginia, Wisconsin beat Marquette, Michigan beat UConn, Northwestern beat Notre Dame and Indiana beat Pitt this regular season. The Big East’s two wins were West Virginia over Ohio State and Marquette over Michigan.
The Big East is recognized as the top conference in the country, and rightfully so, but the top of the Big Ten has proven to be stronger. Indiana, not one of the top teams in the conference, was able to knock off Pitt on a neutral court and Northwestern beat Notre Dame by 14; no one will mistake the Wildcats for a top-tier conference school.
The Big East’s only two wins were from West Virginia and Marquette, both of those games happened at home. The Big East put on an impressive performance in March Madness last season with Connecticut and Villanova both advancing to Ford Field in Detroit for the Final Four. Michigan State also got to the Final Four and, unlike the two Big East teams, they advanced to the championship game.
This year it looks like the Big Ten may be the conference sending multiple teams to the Final Four. Winning on the road is a good indication of the strength of the top of the conference. The Big Ten’s top four teams are a combined 21-16 on the road. Come tournament time, the ability to win on neutral courts is even more important. The top four teams in the Big Ten are 8-3 on neutral courts. The Big East is equally successful on the road and on neutral courts. Syracuse, Villanova, Pitt, West Virginia and Georgetown are 28-14 SU on the road and 16-2 SU on neutral courts.
Mid-majors and top-ranked Kansas and second-ranked Kentucky will get plenty of attention come tournament time, but if you are looking for value, these may not be the sexy picks, but the teams in the Big East and especially the Big Ten have the potential to play all the way until April.
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