The Big East was predominantly regarded as the second best conference in the country all season behind the Big Ten. However, they received the most bids in the NCAA Tournament – 8. The Big Ten had better teams at the top of their conference, but the overall quality of the Big East was seen to be deeper.
Well, that was the general consensus anyway when compared to other conferences, because the Big East went out and laid a dud in the opening round (or properly known as Round 2) with only three of the eight teams advancing past the field of 64. The kneejerk reaction is to say that this is the same old postseason performance for the Big East. Back in 2011 they received a record 11 bids into the tournament. And while UConn went on to win the national championship; the other 10 were looked at as massive disappointments (only UConn and Marquette made the Sweet 16).
This year Georgetown will likely be the poster child for another disappointing Big East showing as they fell as a #2 seed to #15 seed Florida Gulf Coast.
But that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case, just as it shouldn’t have been back in 2011, because of one reason: only one team can win it all. UConn won it all a few years ago representing the Big East, and this year 67 more teams will underperform their expectations and check out early. With a couple good horses still in the race, and with Louisville as one of the odds-on favorites, the Big East can still come away with a successful showing in its last year with this look before remodeling.
Here’s a quick look at the Round of 32 for the three teams still standing:
1 – Louisville Cardinals vs. 8 – Colorado St. Rams
When: 5:15 PM today on CBS
Colorado St. is the type of team in which the entire product is better than the individual parts suggest, but Louisville rolls out the best product in the nation. The Rams are superb at controlling the ball (they commit the 18th fewest turnovers in the country) and even better at obtaining offensive rebounds (2nd best in the country), but they haven’t squared up against a front court and defense that the Cardinals will be bringing to the table.
3 – Marquette Golden Eagles vs. 6 – Butler Bulldogs
When: 7:45 PM today on CBS
Marquette made it very interesting on Thursday afternoon as it looked almost certain that they were going to be upset by #14 seed Davidson. The Golden Eagles were down 53-46 with a win probability of less than 5% with 1:33 left in the game. But then Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson took over and willed Marquette to a 59-58 victory. Their matchup with Butler is a rematch of their third game of the season was back in November which took place out in Hawaii. That game had a finish equally as exciting as their game against Davidson, but Marquette happened to be on the wrong end of that buzzer beater – Rotnei Clarke hit a deep, contested and running 3 that somehow fell as the buzzer sounded. Marquette looked to be the better team most of the game, and I believe they have improved more than Butler has throughout the season. Nonetheless, this should be another good contest.
4 – Syracuse Orange vs. 12 – California Golden Bears
When: 9:40 PM today on TBS
Wow. Now where has that Orange team been all season? Granted it was Montana, but on a national stage, that 81-34 victory had to be the biggest beat down of the year. It was good to see Brandon Triche finally step up and have a really good shooting night while everyone else did their part. California is likely to put up more of a fight, and Allen Crabbe could prove to be a matchup problem at times, but if the Orange continue to fire on all cylinders like that of two nights ago, a ticket to the Sweet 16 should be theirs at the end of the night.