With the greatest conference tournament in college basketball officially underway, myself, Sean from Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician and Chris from Rakes of Mallow figured this was the perfect time for some inter-bloggal Big East hoops talk.
The new topic - ushered in by TNIAAM - is whether nor not the Big East sending only seven teams to the NCAA Tournament (should it occur) is a disappointment, and the answer is absolutely.
This league had eight teams in the top 25 for much of the early part of the season, and nine as late as Jan. 5, so to only send seven to the dance would be a massive letdown.
I've come to terms with the fact that the Big East, though ridiculously tough, is not as good as most of us thought it was going to be before the season started. The common thought was that four or five losses would probably win the regular season title, but Louisville, Pittsburgh and Connecticut beating up on the rest of the league as badly as they did really eliminated any chance the conference had of sending nine or ten teams. Though it did make being the first league to have three teams as No. 1 seeds a realistic possibility.
Notre Dame returned the leagues POY and lost only Rob Kurz from a squad that was a four-seed in last year's NCAA Tournament, so their monster fall from grace is really inexplicable. Nobody expected Georgetown to be on the level they were the past two seasons, but it was equally unfathomable to think they'd be where they are now after starting the season 10-1 with wins over Memphis and Connecticut.
The inability of these two teams to hold serve against the bottom of the league and be just average against the rest of it is why the Big East might not be the conference with the most teams in the dance.
The fact that Providence went 10-8 and is still widely considered to be on the wrong side of the bubble also speaks volumes.
Sure, there's always an adjustment period when a new head coach comes in, but there's more than enough veteran talent on that roster to have taken care of Northeastern, Saint Mary's and Baylor, and if that had happened then there wouldn't be an issue here.
In short, I think sending half the league meets, but in no way exceeds, preseason expectations, but getting any less than eight in would have to be a disappointment.
Feel free to disagree, and here are two more items for you all to chew on: How many teams does the league advance to the second weekend of the tournament, and which Big East team outside of Louisville, Pitt and UConn has the best chance at making a surprise run to the Final Four?