KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark did have a comment about UConn coach Dan Hurley’s boast about the Big EAST being the “best conference in the country.”
Hurley has reason to brag. He led UConn to the national championship in April, beating San Diego State. On the College Hoops Today podcast, hosted by Jon Rothstein, Hurley was asked about the strength of the Big East entering this season.
“It’s going to be the best conference in the country and it’s not particularly close,” Hurley said. “You’re looking at Big East basketball now with St. John’s being back and Georgetown being back. That doesn’t include UConn, Marquette, and Creighton who are all national championship contenders this year and Xavier — who if it had a healthy Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter — would also be a top-10 or top-15 type team.”
The recent preseason AP Top 25 certainly gives Hurley some support. Marquette was No. 5, UConn was No. 6 — with two first-place votes — Creighton was No. 8 and Villanova was No. 22.
Yormark was asked about the comment and whether his opinion was different. It was.
“I mean, this history speaks for itself. The data speaks for itself, our ratings, our participation and the tournament where we’ve been the last five years I don’t think there’s a deeper conference in America than the Big 12,” Yormark said. “Danny’s a great coach, UConn’s a great program. But I would certainly debate him on that.”
Before UConn won the national championship in April, the Big 12 won the two previous national titles — Kansas in 2022 and Baylor in 2021.
Entering the season Kansas has the best KenPom rating in the Big 12 and is ranked No. 2, with new Big 12 member Houston right behind the Jayhawks at N0. 3. UConn was No. 4, with future Big 12 member Arizona at No. 5 and Baylor at No. 6. So three Big 12 teams — and one future Big 12 team — was in the Top 10, while there was just one Big 12 team.
Of course, the good news is that the Big 12 and Big EAST can settle things on the floor in December during the Big 12-Big EAST Challenge.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.