Who will win the Big Ten?

League arguably the nation's best with three teams among top five

Updated: January 7, 2014, 12:36 PM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider

Aaron Craft, Keith Appling, Sam Dekker Getty ImagesAaron Craft and Keith Appling control pace, while Sam Dekker has continued his shooting accuracy.

I love 18-game conferences. They start league play earlier, they give us an added degree of information analytically compared to 16-game conferences, and most of all -- assuming that the 18-game league in question is having a good season -- they create more opportunities for outstanding games. That starts with Ohio State at Michigan State (9 p.m. ET, ESPN), an early-January collision between two of the best teams in the country.

With three teams ranked in the top five nationally (Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin), the proverbial "best conference in the nation" at the moment is arguably the Big Ten. So who wins it?

Here's how I see the race shaking out this season in the nation's No. 1 league: