I was sitting and enjoying breakfast at First Watch in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, recently when a gentleman came up to me and engaged me in an interesting conversation.
"Dickie V., the ACC is the best conference by far this year, isn't it?" he said with some confidence.
I told him that I agreed, but that the Big Ten was not far behind. The Big 12 has an impressive group, as well.
That conversation led me to think about the cremé de la cremé, the best of the best conferences in college hoops for the 2014-15 season.
I grabbed a napkin and started writing down the order of my super seven college basketball conferences. I kept going back and forth on the order of a few of them.
Finally, I am ready to present my super seven:
You have to go with the ACC first. The league has four teams in the preseason top 10 of the coaches poll: Duke (No. 3), North Carolina (No. 6), Virginia (No. 8) and Louisville (No. 9). No other conference has more than two. The addition of the Cardinals cements the ACC's position as head of the class.
How tough is this league? You have four head coaches already enshrined in Springfield in the Basketball Hall of Fame -- Coach K, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams and Rick Pitino. If you add up the victory total of all of the coaches combined in the ACC, it is more than 6,400, a staggering total.
With the addition of Louisville, the current ACC configuration has three of the past six national champions (Cardinals 2013, Duke 2010, North Carolina 2009). Commissioner John Swofford would like to have the league's 16th national champion crowned in Indianapolis next April.
I can hear the naysayers screaming at me: Come on Dickie V., last year you sang the praises of the ACC and the league didn't even have a team in the Elite Eight. Virginia was the only ACC club to advance to the second week of the Big Dance.
This season, the depth and talent speaks for itself. Besides the teams in the top 10, Pittsburgh will be solid, Florida State is a dangerous sleeper with Aaron Thomas and Miami has a lot of talented new faces. NC State will be challenging for an NCAA berth, as well.
2. Big Ten
Wisconsin is the cream of the crop, but there is more balance in this conference and a lot of quality clubs like Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan. Remember, the Badgers made the Final Four last season and have a legitimate shot to return again. Minnesota has a good team under Richard Pitino. This will be a very good league once again but I have to give the preseason edge to the ACC.
3. Big 12
The upper echelon of this conference is loaded, with four teams ranked in the top 20. Kansas and Texas are in the top 10 of the coaches poll, while Iowa State and Oklahoma are in the top 20. Don't sleep on Kansas State with Marcus Foster. TCU, which really struggled last season, will be vastly improved. Do you think a lot of people want to play Juwan Staten and the Mountaineers in Morgantown?
Last season, this league was the only one to have two of the Final Four squads -- Kentucky and Florida. Both of those teams could land in Indianapolis in April. John Calipari only has nine McDonald's All Americans on his roster! The depth of this league will depend on teams like Arkansas and LSU. Auburn should respond under new coach Bruce Pearl, it is just tough to pick the Tigers above the other three based on depth.
Arizona is the clear-cut favorite here. Can UCLA put together another impressive season? Can Stanford make another big run in the tournament? There are a lot of questions about this league's depth, but I think fifth is a fair spot.
6. Big East
Villanova, Georgetown and St. John's headline this conference. The Big East took a hit when Doug McDermott completed his eligibility. There are a handful of steady teams like Providence and Xavier around to push the contenders.
Connecticut and SMU should battle for the top spot. The addition of Tulsa, East Carolina and Tulane doesn't make up for the loss of Louisville, though the Golden Hurricane will improve under head coach Frank Haith and recruiting wizard Tom Abatemarco.
There you have it, my super seven. The key is to be the best at the end of the season, baby!