Big East Full of Beasts

The major college sports all have their respective conferences that every year seem to dominate the standings and rankings.  Football has the SEC and Big 12, baseball with the Pac-10, Big 12 and SEC, hockey is more of a northern sport, and then their is basketball.  NCAA Men’s basketball in the last 15 years has had the widest range of competitive teams that have made postseason runs.  With the exception of those teams that are unlucky enough to get into the 16 seed, although very rarely they have given their No.1 opponent a run, have a chance to advance through the NCAA tournament more so in basketball than any other college sport.  Every year though, there is one supreme conference among all the rest, the Big East.  Other conferences have their perenial ranked teams, such as Duke and UNC in the ACC, Texas and Kansas in the Big 12, UCLA in the Pac-10, and Kentucky and Tennesee in the SEC, but when you look at these respective teams play in conference the Big East teams look like men, as for the rest?  Just boys. 

As I sat down and watched the Monday night prime time game involving the long time rivalry of #11 Georgetown at #4 Syracuse in which the Hoyas came into Syracuse and quickly took a 14-0 lead out of the gates only to have the Orangemen clamp down defensively to eventually win the game by 17, I asked myself, “What could be better than watching conference play in the Big East?”  After being distracted by bright colors, followed by seeing Brett Favre (you should be pronouncing that Fah-vruh) on the TV and realizing how much I really do not care, I eventually landed at the answer that Big East basketball is consistently the most entertaining form of sport to watch.  Greatly helping the fact is the Big East is also consistent with having the most seeded teams in the country, regularly having 4 to 5 teams, and currently 6 in the Top 25, with 2 in the top 5 this year.  Having all these ranked teams provides you with an exciting thing to watch, the upset.  The upset, especially when it is of the “cinderella” variety running through the tournament, is exciting to watch in any sport but with the overall parity in college basketball it has almost become a common occurrence and gives fans of teams that do not have the talent of others hope that they will be selected to play in March, proven by how I feel tonight watching Providence take down a talented UCONN team coming off a win against then No. 1 Texas.  Having so many of these teams in the Big East and seeing the other teams in the league randomly take the ranked ones down repeatedly proves how strong of a conference these teams compete in.  In recent years ranging to years passed some full Big East squads in these respective years probably could have challenged many NBA teams consistently…with that said almost any college team could dominate the Nets right now, possibly even D-III Rhode Island College.

Yet, in college basketball it is not just about getting the ranking as much as it is about keeping that ranking next to your school name.  Kansas, Texas, and as of last night Kentucky have all held the No. 1 rank this year and all three were unable to hold onto it, in the case of the Wildcats they could hardlykeep it for a couple days!  That is the case though.  Some of the high ranking teams in the land really do not have the quality competition that you find in the Big East and still lose. That quality competition is the key ingredient in these teams always moving up and down, sometimes out of the rankings, because of the talent top to bottom imposing physical match ups every night.  For instance…UCONN, a perenial power, has 7 losses this season, 4 of which from Big East Teams, and 2 of those from unseeded teams….Syracuse has one loss coming from the conference, PITT has 2 of their 4 losses in conference, 4 of 6 Notre Dame losses are due to conference play, Cincinnati was ranked nationally for a short time earlier this season and had 3 losses going into conference then received 4 more…if you do not understand what I am getting at then my attempts are futile, but I will try one more attempt anyway…

Let’s take a look at the Final Four in the last 25 years because that is what the season comes down to in getting yourseilf into that 4, and allow me to throw some numbers at you:

3 – The number of teams the Big East sent to the Final Four in 1985…no other conference has ever had 3.

4 – The number of times over this period when the Big East has sent 2 teams amongst the 4…admittedly the Big Ten has actually done this 5 times.

8 – This number has been acheived twice, being the number of teams the Big East has sent to the tournament…no other conference has ever sent that many and the Big East has done it twice since 2006.

11 – The times in the last 25 years that a Big East team has been represented in the Final Four (Once again admitting this is tied with a couple conferences and the ACC absolutely dominates this category with being represented 19 times in the last 25 years!)

And the most important of all these numbers…

10 – As opposed to 7 for the Big 10, 5 for the SEC, 4 for both the Big 12 and ACC, and 3 for the Pac-10, these digits show the number of DIFFERENT teams that the best conference in the nation has sent to the Final Four in the last 25 years, that conference being THE BIG EAST.