The Big East's last hurrah
In likely its last great season, the conference is pushing Big Ten for top spot
The rules of college basketball discussion in 2012-13 are as follows: We must first talk about how amazing the Big Ten is, and then we must mourn the fate that has befallen the Big East, which is either degrading or possibly even dying before our eyes.
As it happens, the Big Ten really is amazing, and consequently you'll be seeing thousands of words from me on that very subject in the weeks and months to come. And sure, the Big East really is either degrading or dying before our eyes. But has anyone else noticed something strange? This troubled and fractious league is exceptionally good at basketball at the moment. With five teams in the AP Top 25 (Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati, Georgetown and Notre Dame), a sixth that should be (Pittsburgh) and an overall conference KenPom.com rating that's head and shoulders above what it was last season, the Big East is poised to bring down the glory-years curtain in style.
If you're comparing these two leagues, based on what we know now, the Big Ten is the best conference in Division I. At the moment, the league can claim no fewer than four top-10 teams (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State and Illinois), and it may be the case that Minnesota or Michigan State will prove it deserves to be mentioned in that same breath. But a strong year for the Big Ten shouldn't obscure the fact that the Big East appears to have multiple Final Four contenders in its own right. These are pretty clearly the two best conferences in the nation, and we should probably be thinking of them as Nos. 1 and 1A, instead of the Big Ten and everybody else.
So instead of bowing our heads reverently and speaking in hushed tones around the Big East, let's take an admiring look at its best teams, any number of which might be found in Atlanta come April.
To read John Gasaway's full take on the Big East and its top Final Four contenders, you must be an ESPN Insider.
We see that you are not an ESPN Insider. Upgrade today and gain access to our exclusive coverage.
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- Ducks overcome Henderson, Ole Miss in OT
- No. 24 San Diego St. rallies by Washington
- Buffs' buzzer-beater stuns No. 6 Jayhawks
- McConnell, No. 2 Wildcats squeak by UNLV
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Insider CBB content
• Greenberg/Telep: Kansas Jayhawks
• Greenberg/Finkelstein: Marquette
• Gasaway/Rankin: Indiana Hoosiers
• Gasaway/Rankin: Michigan Wolverines
• Gasaway/Rankin: Ohio State Buckeyes
• Greenberg/Finkelstein: Memphis Tigers
• Gasaway/Rankin: Florida Gators
• Greenberg/Telep: Kentucky Wildcats
• Gasaway/Finkelstein: Louisville Cardinals
• Gasaway/Finkelstein: Syracuse Orange
• Greenberg/Biancardi: NC State Wolfpack
• Biancardi/Gasaway: Duke Blue Devils
• Biancardi/Gasaway: North Carolina Tar Heels
• Biancardi/Gasaway: Arizona Wildcats
• Greenberg/Telep: UCLA Bruins
• Gasaway: Breakout second-year coaches
• Lunardi: Could Louisville repeat as champs?
• Greenberg: UVA tops list of surprise teams
• Fraschilla: How returning stars can improve
• Gasaway: Top title challengers to Kentucky
• Lunardi: Who will earn No. 1 seeds in 2014?
• Telep: Latest on No. 13 junior Theo Pinson
• Rankin: What Wiggins means for Kansas
• Biancardi: KU to prep Wiggins for NBA success
• Telep: Updated look at top recruits
• Roundtable: Most impressive on AAU circuit?
• Ford: NBA draft lottery preview
• Ford: Winners from the NBA draft combine
• Fraschilla: Burke the draft's top point guard?
• Ford: Measurements concern some GMs
• Ford: Why Wiggins would go No. 1 in 2013
Jay Bilas Blog
Jay's take on latest from around the nation
Analysis from Fraschilla, Greenberg and Lunardi
Get news and rumblings before anyone
Hollinger's College PER
College basketball's top players
Get wagering advice for every game