With the super-conference race taking an amorphous shape, it's tough to determine who all of the major players are going to be. But one thing is certain – the Big Ten is clearly in lane No. 1. They average more than 1,300 fans per game over the next closest conference. Pomeroy had them ranked as the toughest top-to-bottom conference in the nation for the 2nd straight season. And most importantly, they're rich. Not only does the Big Ten generate the most revenue per school, but the conference is also largely comprised of big, old, schools with huge athletic budgets and a deep list of wealthy boosters.
The ACC is going to end up with a big three of Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse, but the bottom end (Boston College, Florida State, Miami, Clemson, etc…) are either poor, or don't devote resources to hoops. The Big East is falling apart. The Big 12 is the Big 12. The Pac 12 has UCLA, Arizona and not much else. Which leaves the SEC as the only other potential contender – and lets face it, as deep as the SEC pockets are, they're still mostly football schools who consider basketball a wintertime diversion in same vein as whiskey sours.
So what is the Big Ten doing about their position? Like any good, competitive, force – they're going for the throat.
To put what they're doing into perspective, even hoops bottom-feeder Nebraska is currently building a new $180 million dollar, 15,000 seat arena.
Michigan's Crisler Center is currently receiving a $52 million dollar facelift, which is providing a new atrium and lobby, a new concourse, and new concession stands. Michigan hopes to have everything finished by the start of the 2012-13 season.
Ohio State has solicited bids for a $14 million dollar renovation at the Schottenstein Center. This will renovate the locker rooms, and add a new practice gym, and a new strength and conditioning center.
Illinois is in the planning stages for a renovation to Assembly Hall.
Purdue is wrapping up a $100 million dollar renovation to Mackey Arena.
Northwestern is looking at building a new arena themselves.
And this doesn't even touch on some of the other programs (Michigan State, Indiana) who have some of the best facilities in college basketball.
Two things are clear: the money in college basketball is increasing dramatically, and those with the money win. The Big Ten gets this, and they're positioning themselves to become the preeminent hoops conference.