Why hasn't a Big East team won the tournament since Syracuse in 2003 despite clearly being the strongest conference over the last 6-7 years?
The most common answer that appears to be grounded in logic is that the Big East style of play doesn't translate well into the tournament because the Big East is too physical and NCAA officials call games tight. This appears to be an empirical question. If this is true, then we would expect BE teams to commit more fouls and shoot less free throws than their opponents.
Thus far in the tournament BE teams have played 13 games against non-BE opponents (throwing out Cinci vs. uconn). BE teams have committed an average of 18 fouls a game. Their opponents have averaged 17. BE teams have shot 19.5 FTs a game, while their opponents have shot 19.9. In other words- no differences.
What about wins vs. losses?
BE teams have averaged 15 fouls (opponents 19) and 22.5 FTs (opponents 16.1) in wins. In losses: BE teams have 21 fouls (opponents 16) and 15.8 FTs (opponents 24.2).
So, it seems BE are losing games when they lose the foul-fts game, and are winning when they win the foul-ft game.
If this the case for BE teams in particular or do most games involve the losing team committing more fouls and shooting less FTs? that's also an empirical question, but that's 40 games of data to go through.
The next logical question is: Should the BE pressure officials to call the games tighter in the regular season to prepare teams for the tournament? My answer is that it probably doesn't matter. The data suggest BE teams aren't losing the foul-free throw battle overall.