Question of the day: At this point in the college basketball season, which conference is the best?
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Reporters from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Please check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times
It’s hard not to have a big East Coast bias from my perch in Westwood. A Big East bias, more precisely. Given, perhaps the best thing the Big East has going for it is that it isn’t any of the other power(-less) conferences.
You know the Big Ten is in trouble when Northwestern is on the periphery of conference title discussions. The ACC is essentially Duke and the 11 Lilliputians. As far as the undermanned Pacific 10 goes, it’s a good thing reinforcements are on the way next season. And here’s one word for Oklahoma and the Big 12: Chaminade.
The Big East is more about punch-outs than punch lines. Connecticut won the prestigious Maui Invitational, Notre Dame captured the Old Spice Classic and Syracuse won the Legends Classic. Pittsburgh, Georgetown and Cincinnati are all undefeated, and even St. John’s is thriving under a reinvigorated Steve Lavin. There’s little not to like.
[Updated at 12:20 p.m.
Dave Fairbank, Newport News
The Big East is best, though I’m not crazy about TCU’s front line. Oh, that’s right, the Horned Frogs don’t come on board until 2012. Even factoring in TCU, it’s still the Big East. No great teams, more good teams, fewer barnyard-ready pigs -- though choosing the best conference in early December feels a bit like calling an election winner with 23% of precincts reporting, or going all aflutter over April baseball numbers when somebody is on pace to hit 87 home runs. The tops of the Big Ten and Big 12 are impressive, but there isn’t enough depth. That dynamic is even more evident in the ACC, Southeastern and Pac-10. So, congrats to the kings of November, who have at least a year to devise how to stage a 17-team tournament.
Rachel George, Orlando Sentinel
Less than a month into the season, a case could be made for either the Big East or the Big Ten. They are the top-ranked conferences by RPI and contain 10 of the 28 remaining unbeaten teams, and each has five ranked teams in the coaches poll.
But it’s difficult to argue with what the Big East has done in what was supposed to be a down year for the conference. Consider that six teams -– Pitt, Georgetown, Connecticut, Syracuse, Notre Dame and St. John’s -– all won tournaments. The Panthers’ title in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the Huskies topping of ranked Kentucky to win the Maui Invitational highlight the conference’s strength.
With wins over ranked teams -- including Connecticut over Michigan State, and Georgetown over Missouri -- the conference has done well against good teams.
Toss in the nation’s leading scorer -– Connecticut guard Kemba Walker is averaging 30 points per game -- and it’s clear that the Big East is tops. With seven unbeatens and 11 teams with one loss or fewer, it’s hard to argue that any conference is better.]