Kansas has the Big 12 on top of our college basketball conference rankings while the ACC continues to reach a new rock bottom with each passing week.
1. Big 12
Gonzaga may be No. 1 but the Kansas Jayhawks are the best team in the country. That sentence was something that not many people would have believed after they were thoroughly dismantled on opening night by the Duke Blue Devils at the Champion‘s Classic for all eyes to see. Fast forward to today and they have one of the more impressive early-season resumes in the nation. They won the Maui Invitational, wins over Colorado and Stanford, and their most-recent takedown of West Virginia. With a tough conference schedule facing them, they’ll have ample opportunities to prove that the first sentence is true. If they can, then the Big 12 will reign supreme at the end of the year.
The Georgia Bulldogs taking down the Memphis Tigers on the road was huge and Arkansas got a needed-win in taking down Indiana in overtime. What once felt like the Kentucky Wildcats’ conference to lose has become a much more open race as the games have played out. As the teams continue to face off against each other, eventually someone will rise to the top and claim the title. Yet, the ability of some of the mid-tier and lower level teams to play well against out-of-conference opponents has helped move them back up towards the top of these rankings once again.
3. Big Ten
The Michigan State Spartans look like a team capable of winning the national championship once more. Following the news that Josh Langford would miss another season with a foot injury and that Cassius Winston loss his brother tragically, there was a dark cloud of sorts hanging over the program. After an offseason where they were far and away considered the favorite to cut down the nets in March, their start was not what anyone anticipated. Now, with Cassius Winston putting up a jaw-dropping 32-point, nine-assist performance to take down the Michigan Wolverines at home was a resounding statement to the rest of the college basketball world. As the lone undefeated team in conference play, the folks in East Lansing are the torchbearers for the Big Ten.
4. Big East
Myles Powell and the Seton Hall Pirates are coming and they will not be stopped. When Powell announced that he would return for his senior season there was hope that a New Jersey team could finally make some national noise. After an up-and-down start, Seton Hall has become a team on the rise as they began Big East conference play. The Villanova Wildcats were getting ready to become a contender again but a blowout loss to Marquette on the road makes their future more hazy than it was. Getting a few more teams into the upper echelon of the country’s teams will be key for them to continue to bring eyeballs to what’s happening within their conferences.
The Washington Huskies continue to take two steps back for every one step forward. They got a big win over the USC Trojans but it came after laying a complete egg against the UCLA Bruins a few days prior. As the season progresses it looks more and more like Arizona or bust for this group once again. Thankfully, Sean Miller brought in a strong freshman class with Nico Mannion, Josh Green, and Zeke Nnaji remaking the Wildcats into the West Coast powerhouse it once was. If you’re an East Coast hoops fan and are up to staying up late there’s going to be some good games coming up.
Injuries and in-fighting have knocked the conference once thought to be the toughest in the county down a few pegs this season. Mainly, the North Carolina Tar Heels missing superstar freshman Cole Anthony. Yet, Duke has lost Tre Jones for two games (he’s back now) and will be without freshman wing Wendell Moore indefinitely. Louisville was thought to have a chance to swoop in and steal the crown but they keep tripping over themselves and most recently they let Florida State run them off the court. The Virginia Cavaliers still bring their pack-line defense night-in and night-out but they aren’t as big of a threat as a defending champion usually is.
The Memphis Tigers were the last hope for this conference and even as James Wiseman left for the NBA, the team remained in the top 10 of the Associated Press. However, with Wiseman and D.J. Jeffries both missing, Penny Hardaway’s team was unable to secure a home win over an inconsistent Georgia Bulldogs team that didn’t even get a big scoring output from freshman Anthony Edwards. While it isn’t all hope lost for the American—Memphis could still go on a run—they right now sit at the bottom of the conference totem pole. Hopefully, the Houston Cougars can prove to be a team that could do damage down the line.
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