Big East Looking Strong in Early Season Play

Steve PopowskiCorrespondent INovember 27, 2009

BOISE, ID - MARCH 20:  Forward Gary Wilkinson #55 of the Utah State Aggies is guarded by forwards Lazar Hayward #32 and Jimmy Butler #33 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Taco Bell Arena on March 20, 2009 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

After boasting what was arguably the best play of any conference last year, the Big East was expected to take a step back in 2009-2010. However, in early season play, the Big East has shown that it has just as much fire power as last year.

Granted, it is unlikely that they will have three teams reach the Final Four again, but there is no doubt that getting nine to 10 teams into the tournament may not be that far fetched.

As of Nov. 27th, the Big East, as a league, is 63-6. This is hardly an achievement, with early out of conference play coming against lesser opponents. However, there have been some big wins in tournaments against highly rated teams.

Lets begin with Marquette. Marquette is leading the league in wins and has started the season 6-0. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Marquette, having lost Dominic James, Wes Matthews, and Jerel McNeal. However, leftovers Jimmy Butler and Lazar Hayward have picked up the slack and Marquette has two quality wins thus far in the Old Spice Tournament, beating a quality Xavier team and No. 15 Michigan.

Notre Dame, who was a disappointment last season, has started strong, with Luke Harangody doing is best impression of...Luke Harangody. Harangody is averaging over 27 points and 10 boards per game. The biggest surprise of Notre Dame has been the play of Tim Ambromaitis, a junior forward who did not play in 2008-2009. Ambromaitis is averaging over 13 points per game and is providing the Irish with much needed shooting from beyond the three point arc.

No. 9 Syracuse is 5-0 thus far, and already have a huge upset in beating 12th ranked North Carolina. Pair that with a quality blowout win over Mike Montgomery and the California Golden Bears, and there is no doubt that the Orange will be a force to be reckoned with come March. Junior Wesley Johnson has shown he can be a game changer, pouring in 25 points against UNC. Meanwhile, center Arinze Onuaku has been dominating inside and guard Scoop Jardine has been dishing the ball well.

No. 4 Villanova has dominated, already winning the Puerto RicoTip Off by beating quality teams in Ole Miss and Dayton.

No. 13 UConn has a quality blowout win over LSU, and will be tested when they face-off against No. 7 Duke.

Georgetown, Seton Hall, West Virginia, and St. Johns have all started out 3-0, but have yet to beat a team worthy of being mentioned.

Cincinnati would be the team to be talking about had they not lost in overtime to Gonzaga, 61-59. However, they have two quality wins thus far against Vanderbilt and Maryland.

South Florida, Pittsburgh, DePaul, Providence, and Rutgers all have one loss. Pitt lost to a good Texas team and should fall somewhere in the middle of the Big East. Providence, DePaul, and Rutgers seem to be destined for the third tier of the Big East yet again.