In the 2010 NCAA Tournament, eight Big East teams went dancing, the most out of any conference. However, it wasn't much of a party.
Four of the teams lost in the first round, and three lost in the second round, while one team (West Virginia) had some fortune, as it made its way to the Final Four.
Going into the tournament, everyone said that the Big East was the best of the best. Coming out of it, fans were left shaking their heads.
People started to realize that the Big East wasn't as good as it seemed. Instead of most of the teams being really good, it appeared that all of the teams were just mediocre.
It seems that in 2011 we have fallen for the same trick. There has been talk that there might be up to 11 teams from the Big East that make the NCAA Tournament, which means that just a .500 finish in conference play would be enough to qualify a team for the Big Dance.
Don't get me wrong—the Big East is a strong conference. Teams like Pitt and Notre Dame are good, experienced squads and are primed for a ton of success come tournament time. Notre Dame has six seniors, including Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis. Pitt is a very well-coached team with Jamie Dixon and is guaranteed to be able to grind out hard-fought wins, which is crucial in March.
However, look at teams like Syracuse, Villanova and Connecticut. All of America was fooled into believing that the Orange were a Top Five team deserving of a No. 1 seed until they lost six of eight games, which included a 22-point home loss to Seton Hall.
Villanova has two great senior guards in Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher, yet those two have not been able to help give the Wildcats any consistency. Nova lost on the road to Rutgers and then came home and lost for the first time in years at the Pavilion to Pittsburgh. They also lost on the road to Providence.
Connecticut still hasn't totally folded, yet it is bound to. It is unlikely that a freshman-heavy team ever does too well in the NCAA Tournament, and that will likely be the case with this team. Despite having one of the best players in the country in Kemba Walker, whose production has been down, they just don't have the manpower to compete at the highest level.
Georgetown and Louisville both have had pretty good conference seasons, yet neither has too many marquee non-conference wins to prove that it is deserving of its current ranking.
As for teams like St. John's, West Virginia, Marquette and Cincinnati, they are all fighting for NCAA tournament bids. Yet once they are in, it's very hard to see them winning a game.
Cincy played a joke of a non-conference schedule. St. John's lost to Fordham and St. Bonaventure, two of the worst teams in the A-10. West Virginia and Marquette have been playing the "win one, lose one" type of conference season so far, and inconsistency is surely going to hurt come March.
It seems that few teams have been able to separate themselves, and that all the top teams in the conference are just butting heads. When no teams are able to pull away in a conference, what does that say? Does it prove that the conference is mostly good, or all fairly decent?
So yes, the number of Big East teams in March Madness this year may be in the double digits, but when it's all said and done, will they be deserving, and will they be able to live up to the expectations?
1. Pittsburgh (11-1)
2. Notre Dame (10-3)
3. Georgetown (9-4)
4. Louisville (8-4)
5. Villanova (8-5)
6. St. John's (8-5)
7. Connecticut (7-5)
8. Syracuse (8-6)
9. West Virginia (7-6)
10. Cincinnati (6-6)
11. Marquette (6-7)
12. Seton Hall (5-9)
13. Rutgers (4-9)
14. Providence (3-9)
15. South Florida (2-11)
16. DePaul (0-12)
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