NCAA Tournament 2011: The Big East Chokes in the Tournament...Again

Jeff HansenContributor IMarch 21, 2011

For the second year in a row, the Big East has had a very disappointing showing in the NCAA tournament.

All year long we've been hearing about this is the best conference in the country. We've been hearing about how a record 11 teams were going to get into the Big Dance. But after nine teams exit the NCAA tournament before the Sweet 16, the question looms: how good is the Big East?

From top to bottom there is no question that the Big East was the most competitive conference in the country. That was demonstrated when the ninth-seeded Huskies of UConn won the conference tournament.

But were they the best?

The ACC sent three teams to the Sweet 16 (Duke, North Carolina, Florida State), the Big Ten has two (Ohio State, Wisconsin), the Mountain West has two (San Diego State, BYU). Heck, even the city of Richmond, Virginia has just as many teams in the Sweet 16 as the Big East (VCU, Richmond).

Hindsight is 20/20, but I think we can all agree that the Big East was overrated. At the same time, I think we can all agree that with the exception of Duke, Ohio State and Kansas, every other team in the country would have a significantly worse record if they played in the Big East.

After another dismal tournament performance, however, it is becoming more and more clear that the Big East is a lot like every other conference in the country. While they have a lot of good teams, there really are only one or two great teams in the conference.

In their defense, the Big East teams have had a lot of injuries coming into last weekend. Louisville and St. John's had significant injuries that could be attributed to their early exits. Georgetown finished the season without their starting point guard and didn't get him back until the first game of the tournament.

The Big East has some legitimate excuses as to why their teams didn't show well. Pitt was the subject of a crazy ending against Butler, Syracuse and Cincinnati both lost to Big East teams. Injuries plagued other teams.

I know what some Big East people are already saying; "It's the same every year, the Big East teams beat themselves up in the conference tournament and are burnt out by the time the NCAA tournament comes."

Quite simply, I don't buy it.

Every team can make some excuses. UConn is more tired than anyone, they played five games in five days. Duke didn't get their starting point guard back until the first game of the tournament. BYU lost their starting center and best interior player for the year due to suspension. They overcame the excuses and won while nine Big East teams didn't.

They are the deepest and most competitive conference in the country, but they are also the most overrated conference in the country. They've demonstrated that again this year.