A little while ago, I mentioned that I didn't really buy the conventional wisdom that the Big Ten is down this year in basketball. Sure, the Big Ten may not be quite as strong, top to bottom, as the Big East or even the overhyped ACC, but it's probably on par with the Big XII and certainly better than the other "power" hoops conferences, the SEC, Pac10 and Conference USA. The Chicago Tribune's Skip Myslenski and I seem to be cribbing from the same notes. His article contrasts Indiana's young, improving team to Georgia Tech's veteran, declining squad. Myslenski also points out that, aside from Wake, Duke and Carolina, the ACC's teams have faded into mediocrity.
Myslenski could have been more convincing, though. He could have pointed out that Iowa was 12-1 (having beaten likely tournament teams Louisville and Texas in Hawaii) and ranked in the top 15 prior to being bludgeoned to death during Big Ten play. And he left out the fact that merely moving to the ACC turned Miami and Virginia Tech, both 4-12 in the Big East last year, into respectable, and sometimes formidable, clubs. Sure, Virginia Tech beat Duke, but it lost to VMI (Jason Conley doesn't play there anymore), St. John's and Western Michigan. Those three teams went a combined 37-47 this year. Miami lost to South Carolina State. At home. These two shoddy clubs were elevated during the conference season into bubble teams. That, my friends, is a sign of a weak conference.