Who has the stronger conference in 2012? SEC football or Big 10 basketball?
When you think of 2012 college football, first thing that comes to mind has to be the SEC Conference. They’re considered the powerhouse conference in all of collegiate football. In the recent AP Top 25 poll, the SEC has four teams ranked in the top ten and seven teams ranked altogether. Those teams are: Alabama (1), Georgia (5), Florida (7), LSU (9), South Carolina (12), Texas A & M (15), and Mississippi State (22). But when you think of this upcoming 2012 college basketball season, you may be confused for a second of which conference will be the most dominant this year. Your mind my start off with the Big East Conference, then move to the ACC, then to the Big 12, or maybe even the Pac-12 conference…(just kidding)! Well let me tell you that none of those conferences I’ve just mentioned will be considered the most elite by the end of the year. I believe from top to bottom, the Big Ten conference possesses the most talented teams in the country and will be considered your 2012 college basketball powerhouse conference. I don’t remember the last time the Big Ten Conference as a whole had this much hype going into any athletic season, let alone basketball. In the most recent AP Top 25 poll, the Big Ten conference has three teams ranked in the top 5 and five teams ranked altogether. Those teams are Indiana (1), Ohio State (4), Michigan (5), Michigan State (14), and Wisconsin (23). I believe the Big Ten conference in basketball will be similar the SEC conference in football with having total domination of their sport and here is five reasons why:
Four teams in the top ten from the SEC football conference and three teams in the top five from the Big Ten basketball conference should indicate to you that the top dogs of their division are also top dogs of the country. College football fans have become accustomed to seeing teams like Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and LSU as the elites of the league. But what people don’t understand is that the NFL ready talent those teams have year in and year out is what puts them there, which is same the NBA ready talent the Big Ten Conference has with their players. But college basketball fans are not use to seeing teams like Indiana and Michigan in the top five. As a matter of fact, if I told you three years that Indiana would be ranked number one and Michigan will be ranked in the top five, I would have smacked my own self right after I made that comment just for your pleasure. But let the truth be told, Hoosier basketball is back, and Ann Arbor fans are starting to reminisce those infamous Fab Five days with the young nucleus the wolverines have.
Nick Saban, Les Miles, Steve Spurrier, Mark Richt, Tom Izzo, Thad Matta, Tom Crean, and Tubby Smith; what do all these head coaches have in common? A whole lot of championships, conference titles, coach of the year awards, and victories for that matter. These coaches are one of the few that highlight their respective conferences. And these are not just regular head coaches, but a few of them would already be considered hall of fame coaches if they retired today. I believe it takes a real fan of the game to understand how important the head coach is to their team. In recent years there have been many good and bad turn around stories to programs that head coaches do not get enough credit for. You don’t just turn into an elite basketball or football team from out of the blue, first check the man who’s in charge and you’ll see why there’s been a change to your program. And besides, last time I checked, you still don’t go into a battle without your general.
In the SEC, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Florida have been atop of their conference and the country for the past decade. As a matter of fact, since 2003, six of the nine national champions of college football belong to LSU, Florida, and Alabama. So the experiences these teams get in this conference are compared to none, since one of the teams seem to go the distance every year. But when you talk about experience in Big Ten terms, then you have to think of the recent success the basketball teams have in the conference. Michigan State and Ohio State are probably the only two teams in the past five years people have had locked to make it to the sweet sixteen. Other than that, it’s a tossup. But last year 25% of the sweet sixteen consisted of Big Ten teams. They were: Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana, and Wisconsin, (with Purdue just missing it). Michigan were ranked number 4 going into the tourney but they got upset in the first round by 13 ranked Ohio University. But even with that disappoint end to the season, teams like Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten have gotten experience that is vital when it comes to playing March basketball.
Top to bottom Talent
Okay I understand I’ve been talking about the top teams in each conference more than I should, but let’s be real, those teams deserve the recognition. But it’s time I talk about why these conferences separate themselves from every other. In the SEC, half of their teams that are bowl eligible already are ranked and 10 of their 14 teams can be bowl eligible by the end of the year. This means two things: 1. the teams that are bowl eligible already will be playing in high profile bowl games, a.k.a after New Year’s games. 2. We will be watching a lot of SEC football during the holiday season, which I don’t mind one bit. Now with comparing it to Big Ten basketball, this conference sent half of their teams to the big dance last season. With those same teams probably making the tournament this year, and the emergence of Northwestern, and in my opinion a team that will be the most surprising to many in Minnesota, the Big Ten conference can find themselves sending 8 of their 12 teams to the tournament. Talk about Midwest madness in March. So with all that said, the teams from both conferences have depth, which leads me to my last point.
One thing I enjoy about college sports is the importance stressed by the coaches and players of every regular season game being played. With that said, if you go through the whole SEC football season with only two losses on your schedule, well then consider that a positive season and you have high hopes of making a BCS game. If you go through the season with one loss or no losses at all, well first off I tip my caps off to your team, and secondly good luck with a date for the national title. In the Big Ten, there is usually a rule that if you finished the year with at least 20 wins in a season and a .500 record in league play, you’ll be playing March basketball. The reason why these teams get the benefit of the doubt compared to other conferences is because of the gruesome schedule a team from this conference on game day. If you are the number one team in the conference going up against a mediocre team, but playing that mediocre team at their place, best believe you’ll be on upset alert. It’s hard to beat the teams in these conferences in the first place, so beating them at their house is another job to be asked. That is why the SEC dominates teams in bowl games and has a representative in the national championship almost every year. That is why the Big Ten has teams make it as far as the sweet sixteen, elite eight, final four every year. It is because they are battle tested during the regular season verses elite programs, which prepares them for the big games at the end of the year.