For college basketball fans March is the greatest time of the year. Every spring a 65 team tournament is held, with one initial play-in game, to determine the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Champion. The tournament takes place at various sites across the U.S. over a three week span. Teams earn a spot into the NCAA basketball tournament by winning their conference championship or by receiving at-large bids for remarkable play by the NCAA selection committee.
The tournament is split into four regions with each team being assigned a seeding, 1-16, based on a teams ranking, win-loss record and RPI data(calculating the strength of a teams schedule.) This year the Final Four and National Championship will be played in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium. Towards the endpoint of the season, the favorites to make a deep run in the tournament, and possibly win the whole thing, are the Kentucky Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks, and the Syracuse Orangemen. Out of all the conferences in the NCAA, the Big East Conference is arguably the most talented in the nation. The Big East consistently has teams ranked in the top 25 and always sends numerous squads to the NCAA tournament.
The Big East Conference consists of Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Louisville, Georgetown, Notre Dame, South Florida(USF), Seton Hall, UConn, Cincinnati, St. John’s, Rutgers, Providence, and Depaul. Due to how competitive this conference is, many analysts and experts are predicting that the Big East could possibly send 10 teams to the NCAA tournament. But, before any teams focus on the big dance they have to perform well in the Big East Conference Tournament. All sixteen teams make the Conference Tournament, with the teams that finish nine through sixteen in the regular season standings playing the first round games. Teams that finish five through eight receive a bye to the second round and the top four teams receive a bye into the quarterfinals. Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh have already clinched at least a first-round bye in the Big East Conference Tournament.
In my opinion, West Virginia and Syracuse are the two best teams in the Big East this season, and both will be in the Big East Conference Championship. Syracuse is the most complete team in the conference and maybe the nation, playing textbook team basketball every single game. Two teams that may surprise you in the Big East Tournament are UConn and Seton Hall. UConn only posted a record of 7-9 in the Big East, but fought for some tough wins against numerous elite teams, such as, Notre Dame, Texas, Villanova, and West Virginia. On the other hand, what makes Seton Hall such a dangerous team is their fast tempo offense and extreme athleticism. If Herb Pope can continue to contribute his threatening down low presence, and Eugene Harvey can consistently break down the opposing defense, then Seton Hall can be a nightmare to face.
This year the Big East Conference Basketball Championship will begin on Tuesday, March 9th and will be played at Madison Square Garden. Selection Sunday is on March 14th at 6 P.M, televised on CBS. On Selection Sunday, the teams that the NCAA Committee selected to be at large-bids are announced. The Play-in game is on March 16th at 7:30 P.M. in Dayton, Ohio. The field of 64 begin to play on Thursday, March 18th. The brackets that everyone loves to fill out will be available shortly after all of the Tournament teams are announced. As every other year, eyes will be glued to the television sets in hope of numerous upsets, with some less popular programs destroying the powerhouse teams hopes at the “big dance”. That is why the NCAA tournament is so great. Even the little guy has a chance.