State of the conferences: Who's up, down and in trouble

Yes, Duke is loaded. But the Blue Devils are not the only team in the ACC that's stacked. Steve Dykes/Getty Images

In the moments that followed Duke's wild win over Florida on Sunday in the PK80 Invitational, Mike Krzyzewski gushed about Marvin Bagley III -- "He really is the most unique player I've ever coached" -- and touted his undefeated team's growth in a string of wins in Portland.

But Krzyzewski had no interest in discussing the impact the victory will have on the ACC overall.

"We just let the league take care of itself," he said. "We'll take care of us. I don't pay attention to rest of the league until we play the league."

Yet, Duke's significant nonconference wins will strengthen its résumé and the profiles of its league opponents once ACC play begins. The two are inseparable elements within the pursuit of NCAA tournament invitations.

"I think it is important for the league," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after his team's win over North Carolina in the Victory Bracket championship of PK80 on Sunday. "We gotta have the top teams in our league winning."

So the collective nonconference wins and losses in this late-November burst of tournaments will impact conference strength. And that affects the value of individual league games and Selection Sunday résumés. Plus, most schedules cool off as teams prepare for conference play.

That's why it's never too early to judge the status of each conference, especially with the victories at stake in this week's ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

So, we present an early State of the Conferences:

ACC: Strong

Duke and North Carolina left the PK80 with three combined wins over teams ranked in KenPom.com's top 30. The Tar Heels couldn't overcome Michigan State's defensive pressure and scored just 45 points, one of the worst outings in school history, during Sunday's game against the Spartans. But they manhandled Arkansas on their way to that matchup. So the ACC is stacked.

NC State scored a win over Arizona last week when that was still a legit top-five victory. Notre Dame's win over Wichita State in the Maui Invitational highlighted the potential of Mike Brey's squad. Virginia entered the week ranked first in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom.com. Miami's defensive efficiency falls within the top 10.

Louisville hasn't been tested yet, but Deng Adel entered the week connecting on 71 percent of his shots inside the arc. The Cardinals will face Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Tuesday. That's coach David Padgett's first opportunity to prove he's capable of elevating this talented group.

What's holding the league back thus far? The 2-4 start of Wake Forest, an NCAA tournament team last season. But the ACC, per usual, tipped off the season with vigor.

Big Ten: Underwhelming

Even before Minnesota nearly lost to an Alabama squad with just three available players in the finale of the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn on Saturday, the league had started the season adrift.

Northwestern, the darling of last season's NCAA tournament, lost to Creighton at "home" -- the Wildcats play in Allstate Arena during Welsh-Ryan Arena's renovation -- and Texas Tech on a neutral floor. There is nothing wrong with a pair of losses to two squads that should make the NCAA tournament. But Texas Tech walloped Northwestern, whose opponents have connected on 39.1 percent of their shots.

Purdue, perhaps a Big Ten sleeper, left the Battle 4 Atlantis with losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky. Wisconsin suffered a three-game losing streak to Xavier, Baylor and UCLA -- three teams that could earn NCAA tournament invitations. Outside of Monday's matchup against Virginia, however, the Badgers won't get additional opportunities to score impactful nonconference victories this season. Maryland lost to St. Bonaventure in the semifinals of the Emerald Coast Classic last week, even though Jaylen Adams (20.6 PPG, 6.5 APG in 2016-17) didn't play because of injury. The Terps fell to Syracuse in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Monday, too.

Iowa has losses to Louisiana-Lafayette and South Dakota State.

Michigan State played like a Final Four team in Sunday's win over North Carolina, and Minnesota possesses the pieces to battle any team in America. But the rest of the league is a mystery. The Big Ten needs the Big Ten/ACC Challenge more than the ACC does right now.

Big 12: Deep

We'll discuss Kansas soon, but the Big 12 is -- again -- the most lethal conference in the country because it's the only league without a bad team.

After losing Monte Morris and three other starters from last season, Iowa State might own that label for the Big 12 this season -- yet the Cyclones are one of seven Big 12 squads that entered the week ranked in the BPI's top 50.

Texas A&M blasted West Virginia in the first game of the season, but the Mountaineers are still forcing more turnovers than any team in America. Texas Tech has a win over Northwestern. And the Red Raiders can strengthen their résumé with a win over Seton Hall on Thursday.

Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. is averaging 14.0 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks for a Baylor squad that could emerge as the biggest threat to Kansas' pursuit of another Big 12 title. Oklahoma crushed Oregon in the PK80 and boasts the most exciting young guard in America (Trae Young). It's hard to judge TCU because of its weak nonconference schedule, but Jamie Dixon returned the key players from last year's NIT championship team.

With Kansas defeating Kentucky in the Champions Classic, the Big 12 has amassed critical nonconference wins that could lead to another seven-bid -- or more -- Selection Sunday for the league.

Pac-12: Forgettable

Yes, it all starts with Arizona, but conversations about the Pac-12's disappointing start don't end there. The Wildcats fell from the national rankings after suffering three consecutive losses to NC State, SMU and Purdue. That's the billboard for a league wrestling through a miserable opening stretch. But it's not the full story.

USC, a squad that brought back last year's top players and cracked the preseason Final Four sleeper list for many, suffered a lopsided loss to Texas A&M at home on Sunday and slid past Vanderbilt on the road in overtime last week. Steve Alford's UCLA squad beat Wisconsin, a respectable victory, but the Bruins had connected on just 64.6 percent of their free throws entering the week.

Oregon left PK80 with a 1-2 record, losing to UConn and Oklahoma, and only recorded the one victory when the Ducks beat DePaul in overtime. They had more fans than any team in the event, and they failed to use that advantage in critical games.

Utah has a 27-point loss to UNLV on its résumé.

Chaminade beat Cal. Portland State beat Stanford in the PK80.

The good news? Arizona State is undefeated with a win over Xavier. Washington State -- yes, Washington State -- just beat Saint Mary's and San Diego State to win the Wooden Legacy tournament in Fullerton, California. But those highlights can't mask the reality that the Pac-12 is filled with mediocrity.

SEC: Scary

The SEC returned some of the top talent in America. Players such as Texas A&M's Robert Williams, Florida's Chris Chiozza and Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo all came back.

The league added impressive talent, too. Florida grad transfer Egor Koulechov. Kentucky's incoming class, ranked No. 2 by ESPN.com. Alabama's Collin Sexton and John Petty. But that's not a new concept for the SEC. Putting it all together and fulfilling its potential has been the problem for the conference in recent years.

That should end in 2017-18, because the SEC seems capable of towering above any league in the country right now.

A lengthy, athletic, acrobatic Kentucky squad full of future NBA draft picks lost to Kansas in the Champions Classic, but the Wildcats will overwhelm most opponents they face. Texas A&M, which could win this league, has victories over West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Penn State and USC. And it's not even December.

Florida beat Gonzaga in double overtime and battled No. 1 Duke in the PK80 Motion Bracket title game, proving the Gators can tussle with any opponent in the country. They made 32 3-pointers in their first two games of the event. Their small-ball attack will present problems for any opponent. But that's just the top. Arkansas crushed UConn and topped Oklahoma. Tennessee beat Purdue last week. Missouri blew a double-digit lead in a loss to West Virginia on Sunday, but Cuonzo Martin's squad will be a handful for SEC foes -- even without the injured Michael Porter Jr. -- if it continues to play with the same fire.

Big East: Healthy

Things begin with Villanova, the 2016 national champion. The Wildcats are equipped with the same traits that title team had. Jalen Brunson (18.7 PPG, 4.3 APG, 48 percent from the 3-point line) looks like a Wooden Award contender for Jay Wright.

Per the norm, however, the Wildcats aren't the league's only threat.

Xavier won a true road game against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, one of college basketball's most hostile environments. The Musketeers entered the week top 10 in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom.com. Seton Hall and Angel Delgado (14.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG) are still top-25 good, despite the one-point loss to Rhode Island.

Providence's lone blemish came against a dangerous Minnesota team. Creighton will enter December with wins over UCLA and Northwestern on its résumé. St. John's scored a recent win over UCF, a sign of progress for that program.

Butler was down by 15 points in the final minutes of regulation against Ohio State in a fifth-place game in the PK80 on Sunday but won in overtime.

This is Big East basketball. Quality teams throughout the league, and they're proving their value early.