Anecdotally, most agree the Big Ten stood out as the best conference in college basketball in the 2019-20 season as the league was on track to send 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament and placed 12 of its 14 teams in the top 60 of the final NET ranking.

But data-based breakdowns paint differing pictures of which league was the best in college hoops this season. After all, there were four leagues that finished with more teams in the top-15 of the NET than the Big Ten.

So while it may be clear that the Big Ten was the nation's deepest league, was it truly the best? We break it down here in our postseason conference ranking.

Draft prospects were taken from the latest CBS Sports NBA Big Board, which features the top 75 prospects for the 2020 NBA Draft. Projected NCAA Tournament bids were taken from the final 2020 bracket projection from CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm.

1. Big Ten

The case for the Big Ten as college basketball's best conference in 2019-20 was its depth. With 10 teams projected to make the NCAA Tournament field, the league was on track to send a higher percentage of its squads to the Big Dance than any other conference. Plus, its projected NCAA Tournament squads went 4-1 against the Big East's trio of co-champions during the regular season, which suggests it was better than its top competitor for conference supremacy in NCAA hoops.


  • Non-conference winning percentage: 73.1% (3rd)
  • Average NET ranking: 51.4 (t-2nd)
  • Average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 29.7 (2nd)
  • Projected NCAA Tournament bids: 10 (1st)
  • Top 75 NBA Draft prospects: 7 (t-4th)

The case against the league was that it did not have an obvious national title contender as it ended the season without any teams projected as No. 1 or No. 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Only Michigan State advanced to the Elite Eight in the SportsLine simulation of the bracket.

2. Big East

Big East teams won a higher percentage of their non-conference games than any other league. With four teams in the top 20 of the final NET ranking and none lower than 86, the league's depth was quite competitive with that of the Big Ten.


  • Non-conference winning percentage: 79.4% (1st)
  • Average NET ranking: 38.1 (1st)
  • Average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 26.3 (1st)
  • Projected Bracketology NCAA Tournament bids: 7 (2nd)
  • Top 75 NBA Draft prospects: 6 (5th)

The case against the Big East as the country's top conference is that its three co-champions -- Creighton, Villanova and Seton Hall -- went a combined 2-4 against Big Ten teams. One of those wins was Creighton's snoozer of a home victory over lowly Nebraska. Also, a Seton Hall team that many regarded as the league's top title contender withered a bit down the stretch. But it was a great year for the Big East as it landed seven teams in the projected NCAA Tournament field a year after sending only four to the Big Dance.

3. Big 12

A case can be made that the Big 12 was the country's best conference based on its elite upper echelon. Kansas was going to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and was the likely favorite to win the national title after closing the season on a 16-game win streak. Baylor also spent five weeks at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 amid a 23-game winning streak that showed it would have been a difficult out in the NCAA Tournament. 


  • Non-conference winning percentage: 73.5% (2nd)
  • Average NET ranking: 51.4 (t-2nd)
  • Average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 39.9 (4th)
  • Projected Bracketology NCAA Tournament bids: 4 (t-4th)
  • Top 75 NBA Draft prospects: 7 (t-4th)

The case against the Big 12 is that, outside of Baylor and Kansas, no one in the conference finished above .500 in league play. A year after sending six teams to the NCAA Tournament, the league was projected to land just four in the field this year as Texas Tech and Texas entered the postseason on the bubble.

4. Pac-12

The Pac-12 quietly put together an incredible resurgence in the 2019-20 season thanks to an influx of fresh coaches and NBA-caliber talent. Few could have imagined that UCLA would finish second in the league after the Bruins started 8-9 overall and 1-3 in the Pac-12. But when the dust settled, first-year coach Mick Cronin and the Bruins were among seven Pac-12 teams in the projected NCAA Tournament field. The resurgence was so strong that the case can be made the league should be ranked ahead of the Big 12 because of its depth.


  • Non-conference winning percentage: 72.7% (4th)
  • Average NET ranking: 60.6 (4th)
  • Average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 39.4 (3rd)
  • Projected Bracketology NCAA Tournament bids: 7
  • Top 75 NBA Draft prospects: 10 (2)

For all its improvement, the Pac-12 still does not have an elite team. Oregon at No. 12 was its highest team in the final NET rankings and the only team from the league that advanced to the Sweet 16 in the SportsLine bracket simulation.

5. ACC

The case for the ACC to be higher is that it was stronger than the Pac-12 at the top. Florida State was a projected No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament with Duke as a No. 3, Louisville as a No. 4 and defending national champion Virginia as a No. 6. With its top three teams in the top-10 of the final NET rankings, the ACC's top was not its problem.


  • Non-conference winning percentage: 72.3% (5th)
  • Average NET ranking: 69.3 (6th)
  • Average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 50.2 (5th)
  • Projected Bracketology NCAA Tournament bids: 4 (t-4th)
  • Top 75 NBA Draft prospects: 8 (3rd)

Where the league languished was in its middle class. There wasn't one. Aside from the top four, Georgia Tech was the only team to finish above .500 in league play, and the Yellow Jackets accepted a postseason ban. North Carolina's down year certainly didn't help the league's case.

6. SEC

Sure, Kentucky's annual crop of talent helped. But even without the Wildcats, the SEC still has 11 players represented on the latest CBS Sports NBA Draft Big Board. That's more than any other league. From a talent perspective, there was plenty to like about the league this year. And several of its schools signed quality 2020 classes as well.


  • Non-conference winning percentage: 69.5% (6th)
  • Average NET ranking: 64.9 (6th)
  • Average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 54.5 (6th)
  • Projected Bracketology NCAA Tournament bids: 4 (t-4th)
  • Top 75 NBA Draft prospects: 15 (1st)

The on-court product did not match up with the talent. There were several youth-laden teams in the SEC this season, and it showed in non-conference play. A year after placing seven teams in the NCAA Tournament, the league was projected to get just four in the field this year as Kentucky ran away with the league's regular-season title.

7. AAC

Much of the buzz around the AAC centered on Memphis' No. 1 ranked 2019 recruiting class headlined by James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa. Wiseman's suspension and subsequent withdrawal from school put a damper on things.


  • Non-conference winning percentage: 69.1% (7th)
  • Average NET ranking: 94.8 (7th)
  • Average NET ranking excluding bottom two teams: 76.2 (7th)
  • Projected Bracketology NCAA Tournament bids: 3 (7th)
  • Top 75 NBA Draft prospects: 2 (7th)

It was clearly a down year for the AAC with the adversity Memphis faced and UConn on its way out of the league. Wichita State and Cincinnati are in transition as well. But there's enough tradition left in the AAC for it to compete with the nation's top conferences if it can get its top programs healthy at the same time.