Harris: Big East a great league' Hardly
Is Big East basketball overrated?
OK, so I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, pointing out the obvious in the heart of Big East country.
But facts are facts, and the facts tell me the Big East hasn't lived up to its season-long hype.
Eight Big East teams were invited to the NCAA Tournament -- more than any other conference. Only two teams remain: No. 1 seed Syracuse and No. 2 West Virginia.
No. 2 Villanova, No. 3 Pitt and No. 3 Georgetown -- gone.
No. 6 Marquette, No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 9 Louisville didn't survive the first round.
Everyone looks down on the Big Ten, but the Big Ten had five teams in the tournament, with three teams still alive despite only one member seeded as high as No. 2 (Ohio State).
The Big 12 and Southeastern Conference have two teams remaining in the tournament; neither conference had eight teams invited like the Big East did.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has one team left.
"Whoever doesn't think the Big East is a great league really shouldn't write sports. Do cooking or something," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said Sunday after the Mountaineers defeated Missouri, 68-59, in the second round of the East Regional. "The Big East is a great, great basketball league. And by the way, you (national media) are the ones who voted four of us in the top 10 for the majority of the year. So apparently a lot of people thought we were pretty good then.
"Is the Big 12 not any good because Kansas lost (to Northern Iowa)• No. The Big 12 is a great league."
This year, the Big East may have been too great for its own good.
Just because two Big East teams reached the Final Four last year (Villanova and Connecticut) doesn't mean Villanova deserved a No. 2 seed this year despite uneven play late in the season, or that up-and-down Georgetown deserved a No. 3 seed.
Both teams' early tournament exits against much lower seeds -- Villanova barely escaped against No. 15 Robert Morris in the first round -- proved they were seeded too high.
In fact, of the eight Big East teams that made the tournament, five were seeded No. 3 or higher.
That tells you how highly the NCAA selection committee thinks of the Big East, and how it will put a Big East team in the tournament over a more deserving team from a conference with a lesser reputation.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim suggested in a off-hand way that the selection committee could be influenced by the Big East's reputation when selecting teams.
"The problem with college basketball is everyone wants to make it seem like it's a big gap. It's not a big gap," Boeheim said Sunday after Syracuse routed Gonzaga in a West Regional second-round game in Buffalo, N.Y.
"I know Villanova is a good team. I watched the whole game. St. Mary's outplayed Villanova. It's as simple as that. If you watch the games, which unfortunately people don't do, they just say St. Mary's shouldn't win this game. They have a great big guy. They've got great guards. They've got great forwards. They have a great coach. If you watch the games, that was not an upset. They have a better team."
Still, given the choice between taking a second-tier team from the Big East or a top-level mid-major team, the selection committee will almost always favor the Big East team.
Sunday's Pitt-Xavier matchup was another classic example of the have-nots outshining the haves in the tournament.
Pitt entered the game as a No. 3 seed facing No. 6 Xavier from the Atlantic 10, but Xavier was clearly more athletic and should have been seeded higher than the Panthers.
Reputation got the best of Pitt in Sunday's 71-68 second-round loss in the West Regional.
In an attempt to keep up with Xavier, coach Jamie Dixon gave longer looks than normal to freshman Dante Taylor and junior Gilbert Brown, whose freelance playing styles didn't always mesh in Dixon's patterned offense but gave Pitt the best chance against a more talented team.
A step down• Pitt's basketball program could be taking a step up if it considers joining the Big Ten.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Swissvale police free suspect because officers weren’t available to take him to jail
- Penguins: Crosby’s right wrist may need surgery
- Pirates notebook: Marte placed on bereavement leave
- Body of missing Washington County man found in field near his home
- Two top corporations move HQs to Pittsburgh’s “dynamic marketplace”
- WPIAL denies eligibility for 2
- MLB notebook: Dodgers found partly responsible in fan beating
- Pitt women’s top recruit Gibson of Seton-La Salle headed to junior college
- Millvale Diner offers simple, tasty options
- Art Review: ‘The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Alumni & Student Show’
- Allegheny County program to help police reunite lost pets, owners