Big East and Big XII (X?) Primers: It’s All Downhill From Here…


Big East: Ok Ok…Here’s The Beef

"It could be me and three Pygmies and I'd still get this team to the Big East finals..."

The Big East has 11 near-lock NCAA Tourney bids regardless of what goes on in the conference tournament in a weak year for the rest of the country. It could also have two number one seeds (they’ve gotten three before) and eight teams total are currently projected into at least six seeds. Seven of those teams all made at least the Big East quarterfinals, so it’s safe to say that the Big East could have 8 of the 24 best seeds come tourney time. The league will land 68% of its teams in the NCAAs and have 16% of the national bids. When you consider that NCAA Division I basketball has 347 teams vying for those spots this seems crazy. The really crazy part is that they may have still done this in a stronger national year. Some quick facts about the conference:

  • Tyler is no Blake, but the Griffins are no Hansbroughs (look up Ben)…
  • On that note (and the credit here goes to ESPN’s Bill Simmons), are Notre Dame and Luke Harangody in Ewing Theory territory?…
  • St. Johns has been resurgent, if there’s an overall sleeper outside the top 4 teams I’m going with them…
  • The MVP based on his effect on his team may be Georgetown PG Chris Wright. The Hoyas were 21-6 (10-5 Big East and poised for a potential top 4 seed) with him before he broke his hand against Cincy two weeks ago. Georgetown since he left after the 1st half of that game? 4 losses by 14+ ppg and no offensive direction whatsoever (if they have a top 8 seed and no Chris Wright, go with the upset)…
  • People kept talking about how ‘Nova faded down the stretch but what about UConn? Losses in 4 of 5 games (and 7 of 11) to close the regular season while finishing in the bottom half of the league had Husky fans nervous. A run to the Big East finals and a win over Pitt has them back in Final Four dark horse conversations…
  • Lastly, after Kemba Walker’s performance against Pitt in the Big East quarters there’s really no way this guy shouldn’t get POY honors. If UConn does at all decent in the NCAAs they will have had a good season with pretty much only Kemba to thank. He put them over the top this year and did it in maybe the toughest conference ever. My apologies to Jimmer and Sullinger, but this guy is just too good.

Big XII: League of Overwhelming Underachievers

Remember the beard? Come on, DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THE BEARD?!

Three weeks ago the Big XII looked like the second best conference in the country. Texas was cruising through conference play and a threat for the number overall seed in the NCAAs. Kansas was a one loss (Texas) juggernaut. A&M and Missouri were solid top 25 squads. Kansas State and Baylor were lurking as dangerous 2010 Elite 8 teams. Fast forward to early March and the landscape has changed a bit. Kansas surged to the regular season crown (typical), Texas faded a bit down the stretch (sigh, typical), A&M mostly held steady, Missouri faded on the road, and Kansas State grabbed fourth place by giving Kansas its second loss to start a six game win streak. After three Big XII tourney rounds the league likely has six NCAA bids with Colorado while Baylor’s Big XII tourney loss keeps them out of the NCAAs. Still, you have to wonder how much sweeter it could have been had the top half of the league held form. Some quick facts about the conference:

  • The beard may be gone but Jacob Pullen looks like his 2010 self in every other way. The Wildcats are definitely lurking at sleeper status right now…
  • Nebraska exacted some semblance of pre-departure revenge by handing Texas its first conference loss of the season. It won’t stop grumbles about Bo Pelini in Lincoln, but it at least gives Husker fans some bragging rights on their way out…
  • Mizzou sure can score. Mizzou sure can assist. Mizzou sure can win in Columbia. Mizzou is 2-7 on the road and 10th in the league in points allowed. Too bad neither of these tourneys are played in Mizzou…
  • Texas swooned a bit in February but they still have Jordan Hamilton and crafty veterans in Dogus Balbay and J’Covan Brown. They tested themselves with a tough out of conference schedule and spent most of the conference season in first place. Don’t sleep on the Horns…
  • How steep did Iowa State fall from the out of conference portion of their schedule? They were 13-2 with their losses coming by a combined 9 points before finishing dead last in the league at 3-13. This was the story for a lot of Big XII teams but none of them faded in conference play like this team did…
  • Lastly, Kansas is still the cream at the top of the Big XII (and the nation), and the Morris brothers don’t want to see another early tourney exit. Still you have to wonder about a team that’s exited before they were projected to four of the past six years.

Two words people: Elite Eight

That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time for; “Kemba Walker is A Bad Bad Man,” “My Alma Mater in the Elite 8! It May Be DIII, But Come On, That’s Awesome,” “Jim Tressel; He Probably Should’ve Cheated During ’06 and ’07 Too,” “Izzo Alert; He’s At It Again” and “Northwestern: Missing the NCAAs Since, Well, Ever…”

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