Today I aim to objectively explore the traditions of both these conferences in Basketball and aim to put the debate to rest as to which conference is better. To do so, I will compare certain criteria which are important in determining the answer to our question and will include future conference members in analysis rather than current (i.e UMD will be representing the BIG). But the analysis will also try to compare the gains made by each conference from the realignment.
1. No. of National Championships:
ACC: 15 (Syracuse=1, Duke=4, UNC=5, NC-State=2, Louisville=3)
BIG: 11 (UMD=1, Mich.=1, MSU=2, Wisc.=1, OSU=1, Indiana=5)
By having won 4 more Nattys (exactly the difference of adding 2 former Big-East teams) ACC is the clear winner in this category.
2. No. of teams that have won the National Championship
BIG wins this battle by the narrowest of margins and had we gone to the old format, BIG would have won that as well by one. The teams that have won are listed in the previous criterion.
3. Total No. of Final Four appearances
Ahead by 8 final fours, ACC is the clear winner here with additions Louisville, 'Cuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame contributing 17 total where as BIG additions UMD and Rutgers only contribute a total of 3 Final Fours. So pre-realignment, BIG would have been the winner by 3.
4. No. of teams sent to the Final Four
ACC: 11 (Louisville, UVA, Syracuse, Duke, UNC, Pitt, State, FSU, Wake, Notre Dame, G-Tech)
BIG: 12 (UMD, Rutgers, Michigan, MSU, Wisconsin, OSU, Iowa, Minn., Indiana, Purdue, Illinios, PSU)
Again BIG wins by the narrowest of Margins and pre-realignment numbers would favor BIG by a margin of 2.
5. Most recent National Championship:
ACC: 2013 (Louisville)
BIG: 2002 (Maryland)
ACC blows by the BIG in this category barring any changes this year.
6. Total No. of tournament appearances by teams in each conference
ACC wins this one by a mile and a half. New members of ACC contribute 132 of those appearances while new members of the BIG contribute 30 appearances. So before realignment, BIG would have actually been the winner by 28 appearances.
7. Overall NCAA tournament record/winning percentage of teams in each conference
ACC: 557-350 (0.614 winning pct.)
BIG: 414-267 (0.608 winning pct.)
ACC looks like it should have won this by the edge of the needle and had it not been for Nebraska's 0-6 record in the NCAA tournament, BIG would have actually taken this one so for me it's too close to call. Add to the fact that former Big-East teams boosted ACC numbers like crazy and they still only managed to win by a narrow margin means it's not all numbers in this one.
8. No. of teams winning the conference tournament championship
Up until this point BIG was thought to be more even in power sharing but apparently not. Let's see if it's any different for regular season championship
9. No. of teams winning the conference regular season championship
So the fact of the matter is anyone can theoretically win the conference tournament but when it comes to winning the regular season, it's not the same and BIG beats ACC in this category.
10. Most No. of National Championship won by one team
ACC: 5 (UNC)
BIG: 5 (Indiana)
The second tie of this battle comes in exploring the biggest powerhouse in each conference and it seems they both have the same no. of Nattys.
Final Verdict: ACC: 5 BIG: 3; Tie:2
Short Conclusion: ACC is the better conference for basketball moving forward.
ACC is top heavy with the top 6 teams in all categories representing ACC having a vast majority of the assets in the distribution
BIG is more diverse conference with more teams figuring into the mix of winning the conference and NCAA tournament games.
The realignment favors the BIG in terms of making the league more competitive and homogenous within the conference but when it comes to the national stage, it actually favors ACC in having more stud teams trying to compete for the National Title.
Had the realignment never happened, BIG would have been the winner of this analysis by at least 2 categories. Therefore historically, BIG was the better conference.
UMD's ability to make an impact in the national stage would have been hampered by the polarization of the ACC so it is actually beneficial for UMD to move to the BIG.
Hope you liked the analysis and if there are any other factors I missed, feel free to discuss them.