NCAA Basketball: Ranking the best conferences

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Apr 7, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Ryan Boatright (11) celebrates with the trophy as CBS announcer interviews guard Shabazz Napier (13) after the Huskies beat the Kentucky Wildcats in the championship game of the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA Mens Division I Championship tournament at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Which NCAA basketball conference is the strongest? Coming into the 2014-15 season, that may be tougher to answer than is has in many years.

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With the move towards bigger paydays and loftier television exposure, conferences have been disassembled, reassembled and completely remade. The days of basketball dominance by the ACC and/or Big Ten are long long, and now the recruiting waters part for whichever coach and program can deliver a quick ticket to the NBA.

Conference strength can be measured in terms of number of top teams, best recruiting classes, number of tournament teams, or even number of NBA draft picks. So many factors, with it all boiling down to one thing – who is the best.

Unlike football, where the SEC had seen a dominant run unlike any other conference in any sport, basketball has seen its share of dominant and dynastic programs, but with some coming from relatively weak conferences.

We’re going to run the numbers and take a hard look at teams as they stand now, and make some picks of who we think the best conferences currently are in college basketball.

We’ll start with conferences that aren’t even in the running:

America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial Athletic, Conference USA, Horizon, Ivy League, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Southern, Southland, SWAC, Summit League, Sun Belt, West Coast and WAC – sorry, but you just don’t have the overall firepower to make the cut.

All these conferences have at least one team that is tourney worthy, or can shake up the championship dreams of a bigger school, but overall they aren’t anywhere near competitive as a conference.

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