Big Ten Basketball: Despite Michigan's Loss, Big Ten Still the Nation's Best

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2013

As we enter the second half of the 2012-13 college basketball season, there is still one glaring question that is asked among analysts who cover the sport: Which conference is the best in the nation?

Two months into the season, that question should finally have a definitive answer.

The Big Ten is the top conference in America, and here is why:

Nine weeks into the college basketball season and two weeks into conference play, not one team in the Big Ten is below the .500 mark. Purdue and Penn State both sit at 8-8, but Purdue has already notched two wins in conference play, including a victory over No. 12-ranked Illinois to kick off conference play.

As a whole, the Big Ten sports a 146-54 record heading into Monday, Jan. 14, good for a .730 winning percentage. The Big East is the only major conference in America with a higher winning percentage (74.7 percent), beating out the Big Ten by just over one percent.

However, the Big East also features three more teams than the Big Ten, which obviously boosts the conference's winning percentage, as they beat up on the Youngstown States and Maryland-Eastern Shores of the college basketball world.

Two other top-notch college basketball conferences, the ACC and the Big 12, sport .707 and .693 winning percentages, respectively.

Also, keep in mind that the Big Ten's non-conference schedule was no joke either, as Kansas, Connecticut, North Carolina, Georgetown, Florida, N.C. State, Duke and Missouri were all opponents that squared off against Big Ten teams during that period.

Before Sunday's road loss to Ohio State, Michigan was the only remaining undefeated team in college basketball.

Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota are all ranked in the Top 10 of the Coaches Poll, with Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan State all ranked in the Top 20.

In comparison, the Big East has five ranked teams, while no other conference has more than three in the Top 25.

Most importantly, at least four or five teams in the Big Ten have a realistic shot at advancing to this year's Final Four in the tournament.

Two months into the season now, it's time to put an end to the ongoing debate.

The Big Ten is the nation's top basketball conference in 2013, and it has the numbers to back it up.

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