Bobby Knight's not diggin' the Big Ten love, though. During a taping of Survive and Advance on Sunday evening, Knight said that the conference had no business landing seven teams in the tournament, especially when comparing the Big Ten against the other top conferences.
"There are a lot of times when I thought the Big Ten deserved six, seven, eight teams but this certainly isn't one of them," Knight said. "As I've watched Big Ten basketball this year I don't think they're anywhere close to the Big East or the Atlantic Coast Conference. I think they're a long way from both of those conferences."Billy Packer joined in the party too, later saying: "There's a tremendous disparity between the value of those leagues," referencing the Big Ten up against the Big East and ACC.
The great thing about the NCAA Tournament is that a lot of this will be settled on the court starting Thursday afternoon. If the Big Ten goes 1-6 in the first round, then the Big East and ACC each sends two teams to the Final Four ... well, point Knight and Packer. Does the Big Ten really deserve the label of being overrated and mediocre though?
According to RealTimeRPI.com, the Big Ten is the second-highest rated conference, behind only the ACC but two spots ahead of the Big East. In the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the Midwestern boys lost a close 6-5 decision, and would have won the event for the first time ever if not for an Illinois collapse against Clemson.
It's not like the Big Ten got slaughtered in inter-conference head-to-head matchups either. Sure, you have the occasional outlier like Michigan State being blown out by North Carolina -- but you also have the Spartans beating Texas, Illinois smoking Missouri, Michigan splitting with Duke and nearly winning at Connecticut, and Minnesota handily beating the tournament's No. 1 overall seed Louisville.
When you look at all the RPI and strength of schedule numbers, you would be hard-pressed to say the Big Ten was overvalued or overseeded. Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan are all double-digit seeds, while Penn State was obviously punished for its terrible non-conference schedule. Taking it further, in comparison to every other bubble team outside of maybe San Diego State or St. Mary's, the Big Ten stacked up very well resume-wise. The Big East did not have any teams worthy of pushing its tournament number beyond seven; same for the ACC, unless you somehow deem Virginia Tech a candidate.
Whether or not the Big Ten can claim the overall power of an ACC or Big East is irrelevant in the overall scheme of things. The conference stacks up strong enough to warrant all the bids it got.