I’ll say it – I called it. I wrote a blog on Valentine’s Day expressing my disagreement with experts’ and analysts’ opinions that the Big East is the best conference in men’s college basketball. I specifically called out Pitt for their ever-underachieving spirit in the wake of being rewarded with a #1 seed, as they did in 2009. While Pittsburgh’s upset loss to Butler in the true second round may have seemed like a shocker, I can’t say I was that surprised. As the clock ticked away in that game I most likely had a smirk on face signifying my approval of the Big East doing it again. I even tweeted about it.
I’m not really sure why that made me happy. Probably just because I really don’t think that conference is as good as everyone says it is. People say, “Well, they don’t always seem that impressive during the year because they beat up on each other.” OK, fine. But what if that internal beating isn’t really that big of a deal. Maybe they aren’t really that good?
I was driving the other day, listening to my usual talk radio. On this day it wasn’t Howard Stern, but it was ESPN Radio. First and foremost, wow, ESPN Radio has a TON of commercials, and it seems like they’re about every 5 minutes. No, I didn’t track them or compile data so, yes, this could all be in my head, but on this road trip I thought I heard Scott Van Pelt claiming, “Right after the break” about every five miles of desert highway. But I digress….The interesting statistic I heard was that since 2004, when UCONN won the title for the Big East, that the conference will have sent 54 teams to the NCAA tournament once this year’s rounds are completed. That’s a huge number. If the Big East doesn’t win this year it will be that many teams and zero titles. I think that says a lot.
Of the record ELEVEN teams that the Big East sent to the rounds of 68 this year, we only have two surviving right now. Once of which is Marquette. Did not see that coming. UCONN is the other and is showing a lot of promise to be the conference’s only hope. Of those eleven teams we’ve had the following lose by way of upset: #1 seed Pitt, #2 Notre Dame, #3 seed Syracuse, #4 seed Louisville, #6 seed St. Johns, and #6 seed Georgetown. The other three losses were not upsets and only further confirmed that this conference shouldn’t have had this many schools in the tournament.
Maybe Connecticut will come through and prove me wrong. They’ll have to go through a much tougher gauntlet than their regular season to get there. Good luck.
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