Roundtable: Best conference in men's college golf?

Roundtable: Best conference in men's college golf?

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Roundtable: Best conference in men's college golf?

On Sept. 18, before play began at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup, one SEC coach called the ACC its “little brother” of conferences. At week’s end, the ACC schools – Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina State and Virginia – got the last laugh as they defeated the SEC at the Golf Club of Tennessee, 16.5-13.5.

“Unfortunately, the ACC got the best of us, but it’s awesome and a lot of fun,” Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh said. “I think there are some SEC teams a little upset right now, feeling like they let the conference down, and that’s because we did.”

For years, players, coaches, parents and fans have debated about which conference rules college golf.

With only the SEC and the ACC holding conference matchups throughout the year, it’s hard to determine off of one tournament. Golfweek‘s college experts take a deeper look at which conference is the best:

• • •

Lance Ringler

Almost every year when you look at which conference is the best – from top to bottom – in men’s college golf, it’s either the Pac-12 or the SEC. This year should be no different, but don’t be surprised if we see the Big 12 make a bit more noise. With the likes of Kansas and Iowa State continuing to improve, this will certainly help the overall rating of the league. We expect Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma to be near the top, plus Baylor and Texas Tech will be better this year. But, the nod still will have to remain with the SEC as the top conference in overall strength in college golf. Last year, every SEC team was ranked inside the top 71, with Florida being that bottom team. That is likely to improve this year.

• • •

Brentley Romine

The SEC is a two-time defending national champion thanks to Alabama’s recent run at the NCAA Championship, and despite not having won the Collegiate Challenge Cup, the SEC still is the best conference. Alabama is still very talented, although not quite like in recent years. Georgia is a perennial power while LSU is coming off a national semifinals appearance. South Carolina and Vanderbilt return lots of talent and should be considered as title threats in not just for the SEC crown, but for the NCAA title, too. Arkansas and Auburn should make it back to the NCAA Championship this year, and throw in Texas A&M and Missouri as teams who could win a tournament this season. Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Ole Miss are also in the SEC. And then, of course, there is Florida, a former national power that is in rebuilding mode.

• • •

Cassie Stein

No other conference participates in a Collegiate Challenge Cup, but if another were to take place, I believe the Big 12 should be involved, as they are the top conference in the nation. Although Alabama has claimed the last two NCAA Championships, Texas was the last non-SEC school to win one in 2012. The Longhorns, Golfweek’s preseason No. 1, are a young team, but have plenty of talent to contend for a national championship. Oklahoma State is always a staple at the top of the rankings as they were the NCAAs runner-up last year and should be again this year. Oklahoma had their big break out season last year and continues to be on the rise as Baylor, under the new leadership of Mike McGraw, is doing that this year. Don’t forget about TCU and Iowa State who are always under-the-radar teams that make noise when they have to. Kansas, Kansas State and Texas Tech are also in the Big 12.

• • •

Andy Zunz

For the past two years, this discussion has started and ended with three letters: SEC. But the 2014-15 season is a little bit different than years past, and that’s where the answer to this question becomes a bit unclear. You could be looking for the conference that will produce the most teams at the NCAA Championship (possibly the Big 12, with powerhouses like Texas and Oklahoma State and group of under-the-radar threats like Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech) or the national champion (the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC say hello with candidates like Illinois, Stanford and Georgia Tech getting off to huge starts), or simply the conference with the most depth and talent top to bottom. When I think of the most complete conference, top to bottom, the SEC is still king. At the end of the 2013-14 season, the SEC produced the strongest average Golfweek/Sagarin ranking per team by far, beating out the next-best conference (Big 12) by 17 spots and finishing the year with eight of 14 teams in the top 25. It doesn’t have the same Alabama that it had for the past two years, but where Alabama has fallen off, several teams have stepped into the fold in a big way. LSU, Auburn, South Carolina and Vanderbilt have all made big jumps and could be legitimate threats this season. While the national champion may not come out of the SEC, it’s simply the best in terms of depth and balanced strength at the top.

• • •

2013-14 Men’s Conference Rankings

Based on Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings

  1. SEC . . . 71.12
  2. Pac-12 . . . 71.65
  3. Big 12 . . . 71.66
  4. ACC . . . 72.23
  5. American . . . 72.60
  6. Big Ten . . . 72.72
  7. C-USA . . . 73.13
  8. WCC . . . 73.15
  9. MWC . . . 73.30
  10. Sun Belt . . . 73.40
  11. SoCon . . . 73.41
  12. Atlantic Sun . . . 73.60
  13. Big West . . . 73.64
  14. Big South . . . 73.84
  15. MAC . . . 74.41
  16. Southland . . . 74.65
  17. Colonial . . . 75.27
  18. MVC . . . 75.32
  19. OVC . . . 75.42
  20. America Sky . . . 75.48
  21. Ivy . . . 75.61
  22. WAC . . . 75.74
  23. Big East . . . 75.79
  24. Horizon . . . 76.05
  25. Summit . . . 76.30
  26. Atlantic 10 . . . 76.39
  27. Northeast . . . 77.53
  28. Patriot . . . 77.53
  29. Metro . . . 79.47
  30. MEAC . . . 79.81
  31. SWAC . . . 88.15

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