The newly formed American Athletic Conference and the Big East Conference are going to be closely compared for the next few seasons, obviously due to the fact that they used to be united. However, the schools of AAC were too focused on football, and that caused the smaller, basketball only schools to break away and form a new conference, which retained the name of the Big East.
The idea was to allow these schools to create a powerful basketball conference without the conflict of interest so often brought about by football. However, USA Today’s preseason coaches poll seems to give the initial advantage to the AAC. The AAC had Louisville ranked 3rd, Memphis 13th and UConn 19th. The Big East had only one representative, Marquette at 17th.
To be fair, this is the only year Louisville will spend in the AAC before leaving for the ACC, and the Big East saw Creighton and Georgetown just miss the top 25. That being said, it is still interesting that the so-called football conference looks like it could be the stronger basketball conference.
The Big East is the deeper of the two, but the AAC has the better teams at the top. Which you value more is personal preference, but in terms of the polls being top heavy is a good thing. It is not particularly likely that either conference will have more than four representatives in the NCAA Tournament, but the AAC is the early favorite to have more teams go farther.
Ultimately, the comparisons between these two conferences are going to disappear in a few years, and they will just be accepted as part of the ever changing landscape of college sports. However, there is still some bad blood and a little bit of competition this season, and right now it is the AAC with the advantage.