Editor’s Faceoff

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Feb 062006
 
Authors: Brett Okamoto

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 sports@collegian.com

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Editor’s Faceoff

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Feb 062006
 
Authors: Scott Bondy

We've already debated (and I won) who the best college basketball player is, but an even better question is, which conference reins over all? The uneducated pick would be the ACC and a mediocre, yet wrong pick, would yield the Big 10.

That leaves the Big East.

What better way to start my argument than with the No. 1 team in the land. UConn leads four other teams into the AP Top 25 rankings (I should say Top 15) with No. 4 Villanova, No. 9 West Virginia, No. 14 Pitt and No. 15 Georgetown. And those are the only teams that matter, not to say that Louisville, Marquette and Syracuse aren't extremely dangerous or tournament sleepers. Throw me five teams from any other conference and they don't stack up against the big five in the East.

After looking at the top 15 teams in the nation, it's easy to mold the lower part of the rankings together. Basically, they just fill in the rankings. For example, Northern Iowa at No. 25 – they have one key victory coming against LSU, and the rest come versus lame ducks. The Panthers could easily be replaced with Marquette (who have beat Connecticut) and no one would notice (except the 25 people in northern Iowa).

It's almost a shame that there's this much talent in one conference. The Big East has 16 teams (which admittedly is far too many) and only two of them have losing records. Plus, those two teams don't even belong in the conference.

South Florida and DePaul should get booted back to Conference USA. Take the top five teams in the Big East and they've lost a combined seven games outside of conference play. That means they're knocking each other down. The East would have about eight teams ranked in the Top 25 if they didn't have such a grueling conference schedule. It's really not fair.

The Big 10 boasts some great records, but most of the teams are worse than their record eludes. Aside from Illinois and Michigan State, there isn't a single team that would scare a Big East foe.

Marquette and Cincinnati aren't ranked and sit seventh and ninth in conference, respectively, yet have wins against ranked teams. I'm not claiming they should be ranked, but they definitely deserve some respect. Come tournament time, they should get some. Speaking of the tournament, the Big East will end up sending more teams than anyone else. Nothing says "best conference" better than having the most teams playing in March. Aside from sending the most teams, they could potentially fill out half of the Elite 8 or even half of the Final 4. Can you see any other conference doing that? Probably not.

The only thing that can prove me wrong now is the madness coming in March.

Scott Bondy is the Collegian's associate managing editor for sports and special sections.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm