THE BEAST OF THE BIG LEAST
What advantage is gained by being one of 16 teams in the Big East?
By playing these ridiculously easy out of conference games Geno has an extended exhibition season to work on his team's capabilities, pad his players stats, build his winning percentage, and strengthen his bench with lots of court time. Recruits are fed the fabulous stats and the great win loss percentage without being bothered with the quality of the opposition.
The press is complicit in this charade - sure they mention from time to time that Tennessee plays the toughest schedule - but they never make the actual comparison.The NCAA is complicit since they fail to reward teams that play the more difficult schedules. On top of the miserable out of conference schedule is the part played by being in the Big East
The top of the Big East last year
then a fairly serious fall off to
Twenty to Fifty
followed by a drop to
180 St John's
So teams like Marquette, Louisville, Pittsburg, WVa, ND, & DePaul get to go dancing with Rutgers and UConn while Auburn and Kentucky stay home and the Big East fans cry foul when South Florida is denied a berth. The top 10 Big East teams pretty much start the season with a 6 win advantage because the bottom of the conference features Cincy at 89 and 5 teams beneath 100 in the RPI.
Meanwhile Auburn and Kentucky in the SEC face at least four top 15 foes - Tennessee, LSU, UGA, and Vanderbilt and two of those twice. So an Auburn or Kentucky has one sub 100 team (Alabama) and four top 15 teams for 6 games - a 1 win 6 loss setup vs the Big East middle class with a 6 and 2 setup. This nets the Big East 8 tournament berths to much hoopla over on the Boneyard as if it somehow demonstrates Big East strength instead of Big East weakness. It's an easy mistake to make if you don't really pay attention.
As the tournament progressed only 2 of 8 Big East teams get past the round of 32 compared to the SEC with 3 of 5. LSU destroys UConn by 23 and Tennessee takes out Rutgers by 13
Playing in the Big Least is a definite advantage because the bottom of the Big East is so weak. Playing in the SEC means playing in one of the toughest conferences. The Big East has seen significant NCAA tournament success at the top UConn, Notre Dame, Rutgers all have reached the Final Four. 12 Times Big East teams have reached the Final Four. But that success pales in comparison to the SEC record: 31 times teams from the SEC have reached the NCAA Final Four including Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn and Vanderbilt