Is The Big East The Beast? Not Quite

Scott TaylorCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2009

If you turn on ESPN, chances are you have heard that the Big East is far and away the best college basketball conference in the country.


While it may arguably be the best, it is clearly not dominant, the way ESPN hypes it.


In other words, it isn’t the Beast.


Last year half of the teams (eight) made the NCAA Tournament.


Despite the large number, only one (Louisville) made the Elite Eight, and there were no Final Four teams.


This year there are four teams in the top 10 and eight teams in the top 25.


That makes it sound like an awesome conference, but it also has the most teams in any conference with 16 teams.


Having half of the teams in the top 25 is a very impressive feat, but two or three of those teams are only there because they are in the Big East conference.


With all of the good teams in the conference, there are several bad teams. South Florida, DePaul, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John's, and Cincinnati are all below average teams.


How can a conference be that good with all of these teams in it?


Sure, anything can happen come March, and the Big East does have a few teams capable of making a deep run, but none of those teams are dominant.


A case and point is the non-conference slate. For as good as this conference is supposed to be, they sure don’t play much out of conference.


Here are the top teams the Big East has beaten this year: Wisconsin twice, Memphis twice, Texas, Miami, Gonzaga, Kansas, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio State, and UNLV.


Outside of Texas and maybe Memphis, there isn’t much there to brag about.


Now here are the best teams the conference has lost to:


Tennessee (twice), Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Minnesota, UNLV, Xavier, Dayton, Baylor, Saint Mary's, Kentucky, Davidson, and Ohio State.


While there wer at least a couple games against top teams, most of these losses are against mid-majors. The glaring team there is Tennessee, which has been called overrated, yet is 2-0 against the daunted Big East, including a win over first place Marquette.


Let's also add that Louisville had three losses out of conference to unranked foes at the time (two neutral court and one at home), but are steamrolling through the Big East.


A team that hasn’t contributed to either of these lists is Pittsburgh, whose best win was at Florida State by eight.


No wonder why they can’t make it deep in the NCAAs.


Syracuse probably has the best resume, beating Memphis on the road and Kansas and Florida at neutral sites. However, it lost at home to Cleveland State (4-5 in Horizon League).


By no means is this an outstanding conference.


Just because they beat up on mid and low majors early in the season and beat up on each other with a lot of evenly matched teams, it doesn’t make it awesome.


Again, I am not arguing there aren’t a lot of good teams in the conference. There are nine very solid clubs which could beat nearly anyone on a given night.


They just don’t play those teams, and they can also lose to a lot of teams, too.


While it makes for several great match-ups a week, there are still those other games that will be blowouts. If you cut the league down to a normal 12 teams, by taking two from the top eight and two from the bottom, you will have a slightly better, if at all better than the ACC.


The Big East needs to stop getting praised for all these conference losses. It is a ridiculous perception.


The fact that Georgetown and Notre Dame are in the top 25 with six losses each and Tennessee does not have a vote with six losses is ludicrous.


The Vols are 2-0 against the Big East and lost to teams in the same level that the Big East teams lost to (Gonzaga twice, Memphis, Kentucky, Kansas, Temple), but have beaten a Big East team in Marquette that no one in the conference has been able to beat.


Just because the SEC has a bad view this year, people won’t vote for them, rather than looking at their body of work. They automatically think six overall losses in the Beast is better than six losses in the SEC.


When you don’t go out and play tough non-conference games, that isn’t the case.


Case in point: Arkansas. It gave Oklahoma its only loss and beat Texas the next week. However, it is 0-4 in conference play.


Hmm, maybe the SEC isn’t all that bad.


In the end though, the likes of ESPN and other outlets will brainwash people to believe what they do. After all, they want those big ratings on Big Monday.


Until the Big East wins another championship or at least beats a premier team, it has no reason to be named the Beast.