Earlier today, saw a quick post by Chicago-based Major Onions, calling the ACC/Big Ten Challenge a "changing of the guard." Now, I do like those guys over there -- would recommend you read all of their content -- and they're obviously biased in favor of the Big Ten, just like we're obviously biased toward the ACC. But their main takeaway that the balance of power between the two is shifting in their favor simply may not be true... yet. The proof they use (all graphics from Major Onions' post):
Following a 10-year losing streak to start the challenge, the Big Ten won by a total of six games in a three-year stretch, and then tied the last two seasons. This is college sports, so things shift slowly. A six-game advantage with two ties doesn't indicate a huge change (again, at least not yet).
Since 1999, you'll also notice a jump in ranked teams for the Big Ten, which as author Peter Hahn points out, has also coincided with a better March performance for those teams.
That "better March performance" is 100-percent accurate, and not only applies in comparison to the conference's lackluster overall showing in the past, but the ACC's presence in the NCAA Tournament's later rounds as well. A look at Sweet 16 appearances over the last decade:
To me, the slight advantages and gains made by the Big Ten are (to me) less a statement of its dominance over the ACC, but one of the two leagues' overall gains in the college basketball world. Admittedly, this WOULD be a pretty strong case for the Big Ten. If not for the most important figure of all. Titles.
Since 2000 (Michigan State), the Big Ten has won a resounding zero National Championships. They've made Final Fours and championship games, for sure. But the end-all be-all of what's important in college basketball is championships, as Syracuse fans well know in their constant struggle to be a blueblood. The Big Ten has made some big gains in the last decade. That's a fact. But until the number of recent titles starts gaining on the ACC's (five vs. zero in favor of our own league after 2000), the overall narrative will remain, even if the undercurrent changes.
The ACC has plenty going for it -- especially at the top of its ranks. And it'll remain king of college basketball until it's dethroned by the Big Ten on the most important stage: the one in early April.