Commentary

Big Ten continues to impress

Originally Published: September 8, 2010
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

When looking at early-season action, people love to talk about the "best conference." Before the campaign started, I picked the Big Ten as the premiere league in the country and I'm happy to report, my friends, that nothing has happened to change my opinion.

Just look at the depth of the conference! Michigan State is still the favorite (despite losing to UConn in the Maui Invitational) and Tubby Smith's Golden Gophers made some noise by winning the tournament in Puerto Rico. Remember -- Minnesota beat North Carolina and West Virginia in capturing that event.

Even without Robbie Hummel, Purdue looks solid. And Ohio State had an impressive win at Florida as Jared Sullinger has been one of the premier diaper dandies in America. Those two are real heavyweights, baby!

[+] EnlargeVandy/UNC
AP Photo/Ricardo ArduengoTyler Zeller and the Tar Heels dropped back-to-back games in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament.

Then you look at Wisconsin and Illinois. Bo Ryan's squad lost a tough one at UNLV while Illinois fell to Texas. Both teams will learn from those defeats and challenge in the Big Ten. It's also worth noting that Michigan and Indiana have gotten off to good starts.

On the flip side, the ACC has been a bit disappointing. Yes, Duke is Duke, but there have been a number of surprising results. Look at Kennesaw State over Georgia Tech, Stetson over Wake Forest, Yale over Boston College, and Rutgers cruising to a win over Miami. When you think about it, the Scarlet Knights are expected to finish near the bottom of the Big East!

North Carolina had a pair of losses in Puerto Rico, falling to Minnesota and Vanderbilt. Something tells me Roy Williams will get things together and the Tar Heels will bounce back, but the ACC has still proven a bit shaky to start off the season. NC State was blown out by Georgetown in the finals at Charleston despite big-time expectations for the Wolfpack; Virginia gave up 55 points in the first half of a blowout loss to Washington in Maui (that is not Tony Bennett basketball, my friends); and Maryland lost tough games to Pittsburgh and Illinois at MSG.

Gary Williams has his kids playing hard and the Terps will win their share of games, but once again the ACC just doesn't look like the power it has been on the past.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.