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BE Bloggers Roundtable (May 2010) Part III: The Big East's Season

Inspiration for the next sentence from the Ja Rule Duets diss from a few years ago.

!!If you liked Part I of our bloggers' roundtable - a team-specific look from each blogger; and Part II - surprise teams in the Big East, you'll love Parts III and IV!!

Big East basketball logoTo be more serious - I asked some other bloggers to answer a few questions for me and for you on the blogs, or perusing the message boards, or searching for information on your favorite team. Earlier roundtables have been very successful, and the group who are answering questions for this round have done a really good, thoughtful job.

Check the earlier posts for a list of all the questions and bloggers. Or keep reading! And make sure to check out their websites; some very good stuff being covered around the Big East, for sure. This post's question is:

3. What are your quick thoughts on the Big East as a whole this past season?


U Conn Huskies logoTheUConnBlog: As usual, [the Big East] was the best conference in the country. Not quite as mind-bendingly awesome as it was in 2009, but deeper than all get out. It had more teams that played in postseason tournaments than any other league has teams.

The league was blasted for choking in March (and rightly so....looking at you Villanova, Georgetown, and all the teams that made the NIT), but I have two responses: 1) a few single-elimination tournament losses in one of the wackier tournaments of all time does not make the Big East overrated and 2) the standard for excellence in the league is so great that only getting two of the Sweet 16 teams is a horrendous year.

I would much rather have four or five of the 6/7 Sweet 16-level teams come up short than be, say, the thin-as-a-rail ACC (which had the national champ...ugh...and a bunch of nothing.)

Syracuse Orange logoOrange::44: I think we all know it was going to be a down year overall. Syracuse, Villanova, and West Virginia separated themselves in the league and then it was everyone else. Pittsburgh was up there too, but those teams were the best and then there was everyone else for the most part.

The league, much like Syracuse, is losing some stars and the league will probably have another year that is a little down before coming back. That being said, the Big East was still the best basketball league in the nation during the year and it will probably be the case again next season.

Villanova Wildcats logoVillanova by the Numbers: The conference, like most of D1, was more competitive, top-to-bottom this season as opposed to 2009. The 1st quartile teams (#1-#4) won 59 conference games in 2009, but only 54 in 2010. Upper division (#1-#8) conference wins declined by a total of 6, with third quartile (#9-#12) teams picking up four and fourth quartile (#12-#16) teams picking up the other two.

A straight comparison of wins suggests the third quartile teams took great strides vis a vis the upper two quartiles, but looking at the Pythagorean Winning Percentage (average by quartile) suggests the fourth quartile improved significantly year-over-year. The Selection Committee showed great confidence in the conference by awarding a #1 seed, two #2 seeds and two #3 seeds to conference teams - that is, five of the top 12 seeds to one conference. If an ACC team won the National Championship again this season, consider that the Big East sent its third different team in two years to the Final Four.

Conference Wins Conference Pythagorean WP
2009 2010 2009 2010
1st quartile 59 54 0.815 0.731
2nd quartile 43 42 0.643 0.636
3rd quartile 28 32 0.390 0.403
4th quartile 14 16 0.177 0.256

It appear the third quartile teams made a large leap (or the upper division teams fell back toward them a bit), netting 4 more wins in 2010, but a look at the Pythagorean winning percentage shows a more modest gain on the second (and first) quartile teams. The biggest gain in Pythagorean Winning Percentage was registered among fourth quartile teams.

DePaul Blue Demons logoBlue Demons Nation: Very clear the divisions of the teams, as the top four were outstanding and were among the better teams in the nation. The next 8 were bi-polar, as they looked solid in one game and abysmal in the next. The last four teams were overmatched and did their best to beat up on one another.

Providence Friar logoFriar Basketball: It’s difficult not to be disappointed in how the conference fared as a whole in the tournament.  The feeling heading into the season was that the conference would inevitably fall after having three #1 seeds the year before, but by the time Georgetown pasted Duke it appeared as though the Big East would roll again.

The bottom four were poor, the middle class was down, and the upper echelon faded when it mattered most, with the exception of West Virginia, who saved the country from a stomach-turning Calipari title run.  I thank them for that.

Georgetown Hoyas logoHoya Prospectus: Is it any surprise the Big East had a rough tournament? It was a tough conference because it has great coaches and good talent level, but there simply weren't a lot of stars in the conference relative to the year before. The differentiator for WVU was Da'Sean Butler, but otherwise very few teams had the talent to realistically challenge for a Final Four spot.

That said, I think some of the lower level of the conference were fundamentally better as well. So it wasn't necessarily a weaker conference than the year before, just flatter.

South Florida logoVoodoo Five: Kind of a topsy turvy year for the conference. Although Cuse and G'Town made it look like it was a normal season, there was a lot of teams normally at the bottom who had quality seasons last year. Also UConn sucked, which is always fun to see.

Pittsburgh Panthers logoEye of A Panther: One of the things I focused on a few weeks ago was all the talent lost in the league to the draft.  Every team with the exception of Pitt, Seton Hall, and St. John's lost a star-quality player to graduation, transfer, or early entry in the NBA draft this year.  Guys like Da'Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks, Scottie Reynolds, Wes Johnson, Greg Monroe, Luke Harangody, Lazar Hayward, Dominique Jones, Samardo Samuels, Mike Rosario, Lance Stephenson, Mac Koshwal, etc. are all gone. The league as a whole was really talented.  Even some of the teams that finished near the bottom of the league had great players.  That's what I'll think of when I look back at last season - just all the depth of talent.

With four top 20 picks in the NBA Draft the year before, the Big East may have had better talent at the top of the conference.  But I think last year's conference had more depth.  Just loads of great players.

DePaul Blue Demons logoChicago College Basketball: Overall the Big East acquitted itself pretty well last season. Conference play in the league makes it the hardest regular season league in the country. The top teams in the Big East can play with anyone in the country - as West Virginia and Syracuse proved with their long tournament runs last season. It is also a league that showed the importance of coaching at the collegiate level. Every team in the top half of the league had an established national head coach. The teams that struggled all were missing that key ingredient.

Cincinnati Bearcats logoBearcats Blog: I thought the Big East had a pretty good season. Obviously the disappointments by every team in March is the lasting image across the country. WVU going to the Final Four kinda covered up for that though.  In the regular season, any game could be a classic and they were all hotly contested. Even DePaul had a memorable game.

Villanova Wildcats logoThe Nova Blog: Still without a doubt a meat-grinder of a conference. I remember looking at our schedule and finding one 2-game stretch where I felt comfortable saying it'd be an easy couple of nights. The conference really needs St. John's to get good again though. That's a very storied program doing absolutely nothing.

I think the conference really missed the marquee freshman this year -- that's the one thing that sticks with me. Lance Stephenson was (predictably, in my opinion) a huge, huge bust. And I'm glad he's leaving.

St. John's red Storm logoRumble in the Garden: Half-cocked assertion: the Big East teams is becoming a great offensive conference. How else to explain how the median offensive performance keeps getting better (and is much better than the average offensive performance, dragged down by some low-scoring teams that all actually got better).

That could be the Providence effect; the Friars seriously inflated their opponents’ efficiency performances. Or the U Conn effect - the Huskies weren't at their shot-stifling best; neither was Georgetown and Louisville. Maybe the Big East is no longer a full body massage as players drive into the lane, as Bucky Waters likes to say...

Pittsburgh Panthers logoPitt Blather: Very balanced. Not great, but tough and really felt like a grind this season. Sometimes exciting, sometimes painful.