- Joe Lunardi, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
Conference play has already begun in the ACC, and it won't be long before we see head-to-head encounters in the Big Ten (Dec. 31), Big East (Dec. 31), AAC (Jan. 1), Pac-12 (Jan. 2) and the remainder of the multibid leagues. For potential NCAA tournament teams in these leagues, conference record is the most important at-large criterion.
There are always exceptions, of course. Usually those are teams among the fortunate few whose nonconference résumés are so strong that they could withstand a league finish in the .500 range. Which teams fit that description as we close out nonconference play? Let's take a look at my top five NCAA résumés to date:
Wisconsin Badgers (12-0)
Bo Ryan's Badgers not only own the nation's best record but also are the only team in the land with seven wins over teams under consideration for our latest bracket -- neutral-site win over St. John's (S-curve 86), Saint Louis (38) and West Virginia (88), road wins at Green Bay (59) and Virginia (35), and home victories over Florida (12) and Marquette (47). Wisconsin is winning fast, slow and every way in between. And, after one last vacation against Prairie View A&M the week after Christmas, the Badgers could very well be 21-0 (8-0 Big Ten) when Ohio State visits Feb. 1. A No. 1 NCAA tournament seed is not out of the question, and the odds for opening NCAA play in Milwaukee are extremely favorable.
Joe Lunardi weighs the teams with the best early wins in non-conference play and how much those wins will aid them come tournament time. The Wisconsin Badgers already have some impressive notches in their belt and appear on track for a No. 1 seed.