About halfway through the season with conference play in full swing, teams and conferences have begun to separate themselves from the pack. Some have made a real argument to be no. 1, whereas others have been struggling a bit (hint: Pac 12). These rankings are mainly based on teams with legit championship aspirations as well as overall competitiveness. Let’s dive deep and see who the best conferences have been thus far.

7. AAC

Championship contenders: N/A

Teams in KenPom top 50: Cincinnati, Houston, UCF (3)

The top three teams in this conference have just six combined losses, but there are some real clunkers towards the bottom of the conference. Additionally, some historically relevant AAC programs like Wichita State, UCONN, SMU, and Memphis don’t really look the part of tournament contenders.

6. Pac 12

Championship contenders: N/A

Teams in KenPom top 50: Oregon, Arizona State (2)

What happened to the Pac 12? With Arizona and UCLA having tough down years, Arizona State and Oregon have been leading the pack. Even the Ducks’ outlook is looking less rosy with the recent injury to star freshman big man Bol Bol. Each team in the conference has at least four losses, and four teams have accumulated eight or more.

5. Big East

Championship contenders: N/A

Teams in KenPom top 50: Villanova, Marquette, Creighton, Butler, St. John’s, Seton Hall (6)

What hurts the Big East the most in these rankings is that there is no real championship contender like Villanova has been in years past. Besides that, there are some solid teams in this conference, with six teams in the KenPom top 50 and a lot of mediocrity elsewhere.

4. SEC

Championship contenders: Tennessee

Teams in KenPom top 50: Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, LSU (7)

The Tennessee Volunteers have begun to prove themselves this season with returning SEC player of the year Grant Williams. Kentucky has started to find its groove after a questionable start, as a team that many thought in the preseason to be top-5 in the country. Texas A&M and South Carolina are the only SEC teams without nine wins, revealing the depth of the conference.

3. Big 12

Championship contenders: Kansas, Texas Tech

Teams in KenPom top 50: Texas Tech, Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Kansas State (7)

The Big 12 has been incredibly impressive top-to-bottom thus far, with only one team out of ten ranked lower than 56th by KenPom. Despite having to replace their top two scorers, Texas Tech is right up there with Kansas as conference leaders. However, the Jayhawks will be without their center Udoka Azubuike, who makes a significant impact for them on both sides of the ball.

2. Big Ten

Championship contenders: Michigan, Michigan State

Teams in KenPom top 50: Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Purdue, Maryland, Ohio State, Indiana, Iowa (9)

Though there are a couple of disappointing underachievers at the bottom of the conference (…Illinois), the Big Ten has been competitive with all nine above teams ranked 36th or higher via KenPom. Michigan has been somewhat of a surprise contender this year with the help of breakout freshman Ignas Brazdeikis. No matter what happens, this will be a hell of a conference tournament to watch.

1.ACC

Championship contenders: Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia Tech

Teams in KenPom top 50: Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Florida State, NC State, Syracuse, Louisville, Clemson (9)

The ACC takes the crown here with several realistic contenders, plenty of tournament teams, and solid seasons from the top to the bottom of the conference. Duke’s future lottery picks have been just as good as advertised, and the Virginia schools (UVA and VT) are rolling with just one loss between them. Virginia should be on a mission this season following last year’s early tournament exit (go Retrievers).

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