Best Current College Basketball Conference

It’s impossible to avoid conferences like the ACC and Big East becoming a topic of discussion when you’re talking about basketball. However, another conference is on the rise and it cannot be ignored – the Big 12.

While the Big 12 does not have as many teams in the 2009 – 2010 top-25 pre-season college b-ball polls, it does have 2 of the top 3 teams in the nation with Kansas at #1 and Texas at #3.

In the 2009 NCAA tournament, half of the Big 12 teams received spots in the brackets: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, and Missouri. All of these teams made it past the first round. Three of these teams made it to the Sweet Sixteen, and while at this point, Kansas would lose to Michigan State in Indianapolis, both Missouri and Oklahoma would advance to the Elite Eight. Its loss in the Sweet Sixteen in 2009 notwithstanding, 2008 national champion Kansas stands out as the most historically prevalent Big 12 team in “the Big Dance,” qualifying for the tournament a staggering 38 times, and making it to the Final Four 13 separate times.

In comparison, 2009 favorite for the national championship – Louisville -- has made it to the Final Four eight times. Kansas is neck and neck with Duke for Final Four appearances, as Duke has made it that far 14 times to Kansas’ 13. Most amazingly, for every three times Kansas gets into the tournament, they make it to the Final Four.

Despite the outstanding performances by teams such as Kansas, Missouri, and Texas, the Big 12 does not yet have the clout and reputation of powerhouse conferences like the Big East and ACC, but the Big 12 stands out as the conference gaining the most momentum as of late. Coaches like Missouri’s Mike Anderson, Kansas’ Bill Self, and Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel III have become frequent subjects of interest in national basketball conversations. And the future looks bright for the Big 12.

Traditionally, as the teams in a conference get better, so does the conference’s reputation. As the rest of the nation begins to take the Big 12 seriously, better results in the Big 12 tournament will yield more impressive results in the NCAA. This means a greater ability to snag recruits for the next season as well as net qualified and successful coaches that can help to further the reputation of the Midwestern states and their quest to become the dominant force in college basketball.

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The 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament predictions are out and they support the notion that Big 12 basketball is underrated (as the article above says). …

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