– Posted by Zurg –
We’ve all heard it before: “The new Big East will never be what the old Big East was”
The ‘old Big East’ had powerhouse programs with recent national championships and Final Four appearances like Syracuse, Louisville, and Connecticut.
The ‘old Big East’ set records for the amount of teams it sent to the NCAA Tournament (a ridiculous 11 bids in 2011).
The current ten-team Big East’s last championship? Villanova in 1985. Every single power conference has had a champion more recently than Rollie Massamino’s 8th-seeded underdogs.
Well, at least the Atlantic 10’s last championship was LaSalle way back in 1954. Throw that in your pipe and smoke it, you Mid-Major.
So, is the new Big East doomed to live in the shadow of the old? Absolutely not.
As Buzz discussed in his post yesterday on the Big East’s Checklist for Long Term Relevance, this group of ten teams has the power to assert itself in the college basketball landscape.
One of the easiest ways to do that is by sending schools to the NCAA Tournament and ultimately winning in March. So let’s take a look at this year’s Big East compared to the past and see how it stacks up:
The 2014 Big East is the third ranked conference on KenPom this season in terms of adjusted Offense and Defense (1: Big Ten, 2: Big 12). Since 2003, on average, the Big East has a ranking of 2.9. It has been as high as 2nd (4 times) and as low as 5th (in 2007), so this year’s conference fits the mold pretty well.
According to Bracket Matrix, the consensus tournament bracket at this point has 5 Big East teams in the field (Villanova, Creighton, Xavier, Providence, & Georgetown) with St. John’s just missing out. Since 2003, the Big East has sent 49.39% of its teams to the NCAA Tournament, so this year’s 50% would be slightly above average. The highest percentage was in 2011 when the Big East sent 11 out of 16 teams (68.75%), while the lowest percentage was 2003 when the conference sent 5 out of 14 teams (35.71%).
On KenPom.com, the Big East currently has 8 of its teams in the top 100 (80%) – and five of them in the top 50 (50%). Since 2003, 77.71% of Big East teams have finished in the top 100 on KenPom, and 57.23% finish in the top 50. With Marquette ranked 53rd and Providence ranked 59th, this year’s conference has a couple teams that could help the 2014 Big East outperform the norm – but as of today, the 2014 version is above average in the top 100 and below average in the top 50, according to Mr. Pomeroy’s metrics.
Having a high percentage of good teams only matters so much, however. Winning in March is pivotal to how a conference is perceived nationally. Since 2003, the Big East has won 4 national championships. Each of those seasons has had at least one Big East representative in the Elite Eight, and 9 out of 11 have had at least one Big East team make the Final Four. That is pretty incredible.
Does this Big East conference have enough talent at the top to continue this streak?
A lot will ride on Villanova and Creighton representing the conference in March as well as they have thus far this season. If Xavier, Georgetown, Providence, or St. John’s can add to that (Hey, Marquette. Feel free to step up, too!), the Big East will continue to be looked at as the power conference it has been in the past.
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