On paper, winning a tournament playing four games is much more difficult than winning a tournament playing three games. That is why ending the regular season in the top four of the Big East standings is so crucial.
All things being even, you have a 12.5% shot of winning a three-game tournament as opposed to a 6.25% chance of winning a four-game tournament and a 3.125% shot of winning a five game tournament. However, historically, statistics go out the window. Last year, Connecticut won as a 9-seed after playing five games. In 2008, Pittsburgh won as a 7-seed after playing four games. (The five game format wasn't introduced until 2009). In 2006, Syracuse won as a 9-seed after playing four games.
Since Louisville joined the league for the 05-06 season, a 9-seed has won the Big East tournament the same number of times that a 1-seed has won it (2007 Georgetown and 2009 Louisville). West Virginia won it as a 3-seed in 2010.
Winning the Big East Tournament has proven to be a huge jumping-off point into the NCAA Tournament. Last year, UConn won the National Championship after winning the BET. In 2010, West Virginia went to the Final Four. In 2009, Louisville was in the Elite Eight. In 2007, Georgetown went to the Final Four. Since Louisville joined the league, only two BET winners have not made it past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament (Pitt 2008 and Cuse 2006).
So, all that being said, winning the BET is an important determinant of NCAA success and being in the top four of the league is equally important, but not absolute. But this year is shaping up to be a strong year for the top four teams in the league. Syracuse is dominating. Marquette, Notre Dame, and Georgetown are also all looking equally supreme. This season is looking similar to the 2007, 2009, and 2010 seasons, in which, barring a huge upset, a team from the top four will win the BET.
So what are the chances that the Cards are getting one of the top four spots?
I'm not gonna lie. I'm not gonna paint a rosy picture. I'm just going to tell it like it is. With 42 games left in the Big East regular season, it doesn't look good. The Cards chances of getting into the top four is not looking good primarily because they have lost to all four of the teams in the top four slots in the standings.
What that means is that a tie with any of those teams is not going to cut it. Currently, Syracuse has a 2.5 game lead over the Number 2 team Marquette. Unless Rutgers pulls off the upset tonight, ND and Marquette will be tied for the number 2 slot. Notre Dame holds the tiebreaker there. If USF beats Nova tonight, they will be tied at 4 with Georgetown, with Georgetown holding the tiebreaker there.
Louisville's hopes of gaining the five spot back hinge on their Feb. 29th meeting with the Bulls. A win against Cincinnati next Thursday, will hold off the Bearcats, having 6 losses to the Cards' 5.
That's for fifth place though.
What about the coveted four spot?
Well the Cards need
some a ton of help. Since Georgetown holds the tiebreaker over the Cards, they need to win their five remaining games and have the Hoyas lose twice. However, there is still hope because two of Georgetown's final games are against Notre Dame and Marquette.
Really, at this point, that is our best chance of getting into the top four slots. Notre Dame and Marquette both have a 2 game lead on the Cards in the loss column, so they would need to lose three games in order for the Cards to get ahead of them in the standings. That seems fairly unlikely that this point.
Don't lose heart, fellow Cards fans. We can still hold out hope that the Cards can win four games in four days. The revenge factor against those top four teams could spur the Cards onto victory in the BET.