When filling out your annual brackets for the beer-consuming, guy-bonding haven that is March Madness, there are a few things you need to consider:
1. You will lose your money if you're betting.
2. You'd probably be better off having your anti-sports girlfriend make decisions based on the team's mascots.
3. If you are going to try and make serious choices, you have to look at the conference the team is in.
So, if you see a team with a 100-0 record, don't madly start scribbling their name down. The record is probably due to the fact the team plays in Middle of Nowhere, USA, playing teams with JUCO (junior college) talent.
That's why if you see any team in the brackets this year hailing from the Big Ten Conference, it's probably a safe bet to send them to the next round.
The Big Ten has six teams in the AP Top 25 right now, out of a conference of only 11.
The Big East has 16 teams, only five are ranked. The 12-team ACC represents four spots in the Top 25.
My buddy Scott thinks the Big East is a better conference. Scott also stared at a frozen orange juice can for hours because it said "concentrate" on the label. In games featuring teams from the Big East and Big Ten this year, teams from the Big Ten have won six compared to the Big East's four.
I will agree with the fact that this year's elite of the elite come from the ACC and the Big East. UConn is the best team in the country right now; Duke a close second. Villanova is rewriting the way people see height as an advantage, beating teams with one of the shortest rosters in the country. UConn, Duke, UNC and Syracuse come to mind as recent national champions.
But when considering the best conference, no conference brings as many high caliber teams as the Big Ten. This year we should see Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State and possibly Wisconsin all come close to reaching the Elite Eight in March.
The Big East and the ACC may also have the big name players, but when it comes to college basketball, a game more about team unity than individual achievement, teams in the Big Ten are unmatched.
Michigan State has three players – Maurice Ager, Shannon Brown and Paul Davis – averaging close to 20 points per game – 19.6, 18.3 and 19, respectively. Tell me another team that is so talented and, more importantly, unselfish that allow three different players to score those kind of figures on a consistent basis.
College basketball is great because a case can be made for all of these conferences. When it comes to March however, I think we'll all see the Big Ten well represented.
Brett Okamoto is the sports editor for the Collegian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org