Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: I know you think I am crazy but I believe top to bottom the ACC is the dominant league in the country, and I refuse to capitalize big east to show my lack of respect. Sure the big east consistently has more teams in the (NCAA tournament) and more teams ranked in the top 25, but it also has more teams.
I do think you're crazy.
Because not only is the Big East better than the ACC, this version of the Big East is so good that I'm calling it the toughest league in college basketball history until I see otherwise. I mean, why do you think Providence had such a hard time hiring a coach? Answer: It's because trying to consistently finish in the top half of the Big East is going to be extremely difficult for Providence given the quality and depth at the top, and Providence is a pretty nice program. Trust me, a coach would much rather play an ACC schedule than a Big East schedule if only because it's reasonable for everybody in the ACC to at least shoot for the middle. In other words, there isn't a program in the ACC that couldn't hope to finish in the top six of the ACC in any given year. On the other hand, it's practically impossible for nearly half of the Big East programs to ever hope to consistently finish in the top six of the Big East, and any of the top Big East teams are just one injury or issue from slipping to the middle because of the number of quality programs. Consider that I think Syracuse might be a top 15 team, but it would be hard for anybody to justify ranking the Orange in the top five of the Big East. That's all you need to know about the strength at the top. And though I agree that the Big East has more good teams and more bad teams based upon it having more teams in general, I still have nine of the 16 Big East teams making the NCAA tournament compared to six of the 12 ACC teams.
That means 56.3 percent of the Big East should make the NCAA tournament compared to 50.0 of ACC teams.
That means the Big East is better and tougher and just a nightmare to navigate.
Anyway, Lawrence, when I got your email I started thinking how a Big East-ACC Challenge might look. So what I decided to do is take the top six from each league and match them against each other. Here's what I got assuming all games were played on neutral courts:
1. Louisville vs. North Carolina
- Winner: North Carolina
2. Connecticut vs. Duke
- Winner: Connecticut
3. Notre Dame vs. Miami
- Winner: Notre Dame
4. Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest
- Winner: Pittsburgh
5. Marquette vs. Virginia Tech
- Winner: Marquette
6. Georgetown vs. Clemson
- Winner: Georgetown
So when I matched the six projected NCAA tournament teams from the ACC against the top six projected NCAA tournament teams from the Big East I came to the conclusion that the Big East would win five of those games. Methinks that suggests the Big East is better, but I'm willing to listen if somebody else wants to make the ACC's case.