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January 20, 2010, 02:07 PM ET
Big Ten speeds up, ACC slows down

by John Gasaway

Yesterday Josh at Big Ten Geeks offered the perfect paradoxical summary of his slow conference’s relative acceleration: “The national average is 68.2 [possessions per 40 minutes] on this season, putting every Big Ten team below that threshold. That said, this is a bit faster than last year’s 61-possession pace.” Precisely. The Big Ten, ladies and gentlemen: Faster than 2009, slower than everyone else.

Speeding up to be slow 
Major-conference tempos, 2009 vs. 2010
Conference games only, 2010 figures through games of January 19
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes

             2010    2009    Change(%)
Big 12       70.4    68.0      +3.5
SEC          69.3    70.0      none
ACC          68.4    69.8      -2.0
Big East     67.9    67.4      none
Pac-10       66.0    63.2      +4.4
Big Ten      64.4    60.9      +5.7

A game with 64 possessions isn’t going to leave anyone thinking they’ve just seen a track meet, of course, but you have to go back to 2006 to find the last time the Big Ten played this “fast.” 

In November I projected that the Big Ten would finish the year averaging 64 possessions per 40 minutes in-conference. That looks good so far, as does my prediction that the traditionally fast ACC will finish 2010 slower than both the SEC and the Big 12. (Wow, I feel like Prospectus Emeritus Nate Silver!)

Where I screwed up, though, was with the Pac-10. Based on what I saw from them in November I thought the league would clock in at 63 trips per 40 minutes in conference play, giving the Big Ten official No Longer Slowest! bragging rights. Alas, that ain’t looking likely, as the Pac-10 currently has a comfortable possession-and-a-half lead over Jim Delany’s league. 

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