Big East Hoops

Archive for March, 2011

Big East Hoops Podcast: Previewing the Upcoming Historical Big East Tournament

March 28, 2011 1:55 pm by donald

Some people have spring break. Others are at work. Big Willie Style has spring break, and he’s coming at you today with a podcast on the Big East historical tournament. It’s our way of deciding the best Big East teams of all time. If you’re wondering, yes, it’s held at Madison Square Garden and Bill Raftery is our color commentator. Without further ado…

The Big East Historical Tournament – Beginning Final Four Weekend

March 27, 2011 9:51 pm by Big Willie Style

March Madness has inspired us. We’ve caught the tournament fever and starting on the Final Four weekend, we’ll be launching our own Big East Historical Tournament. Through the computer simulation Courtside Basketball from Lance Haffner games, using full stats from every team, we’re going to be setting a field of the best 64 Big East teams in conference history, and throughout April we’ll be simulating games and providing everyone the boxscores and updated brackets as we go through this tournament. So get your brackets ready, because we’re going to find out who the best ever is, and answer so many burning questions: Can Emeka Okafor produce against Patrick Ewing? What swingman will lead their team further? Chris Mullin, Da’Sean Butler, Pearl Washington or Terry Dehere? Can Carmelo and Gerry Mac capture some of their 2003 magic? Or will that magic belong once again to McClain and Jensen of the Cardiac Cats? And can either Julius Page or Sherman Douglas shut down either Allen Iverson or Kemba Walker?

What we’ve done is given bids into this tournament to every team in Big East history who accomplished one of the following:
1. Qualify for a Final Four
2. Win the Big East Season Championship
3. Win the Big East Tournament
4. Earn a 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
5. Every school also is guaranteed at least one team, even if they did not accomplish one of the above(except Virginia Tech).

It’s amazing, but these simple qualifications gave us way more than 64 teams, so we’ll have a play-in round that has the bottom 40 teams playing for 20 spots in the tournament. The team has worked over the past week as the selection commitee and we’ve each ranked all these teams and we’ve nearly completed the seeding process. We could use some advice though. Here’s a list of 8 teams who are right on the BUBBLE to either go directly into the tournament, or they will have to play their way into the tournament. Who do you think are the 2 or 3 best of this bunch?


2009 Pittsburgh - DuJuan Blair, Levance Fields and company on the bubble? Yea, that’s how strong this tournament field is.
1996 Syracuse – John Wallace took the Orangemen to the NCAA Final in 96
1991 Seton Hall – Oliver Taylor had the touch that won the Pirates the BE Tournament back in 91
1987 Providence – You may want to cover their swingman named Billy Donovan
2005 Boston College – Craig Smith and Jared Dudley gave BC a strong final season before they bolted to the ACC
2011 Notre Dame – MVP Ben Hansbrough will try his luck in this tournament. Hopefully for him it brings better results.
2009 West Virginia – Careful not to get Pittsnoggled by this team
1982 Villanova – Pinkney and Pinone led the Wildcats to the BE Season title

Although we are not revealing the brackets until Final Four weekend, here’s a look at the top tier seeds:

#1 Seeds

1984 Georgetown – Patrick Ewing’s National Championship team
1999 UConn – Rip Hamilton, Khalid El-Amin and the National Champion Huskies
2003 Syracuse – Freshman Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara led the National Champion Syracuse Orange
2004 UConn – Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon led the huskies to the National Championship

We aren’t sure whether 84 Georgetown or 99 UConn will get the #1 overall seed. They were the only two teams in BE History to win the Season Title, the BE Tournament and the National Championship. Although we were at consensus that these four should be the #1 seeds, we at were split on who should get the #1 overall.

#2 Seeds
2007 Georgetown – Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert lead the Hoyas
1985 Georgetown – Ewing and Reggie Williams fell one game short, but they look to win it all in this challenge
1985 St. John’s – Although Gtown and Villanova made big headlines that year, Chris Mullin led the Redmen to the BE Season title
1982 Georgetown – Sleepy Floyd and Fred Brown get a shot at redemption. Freshman Patrick Ewing will chip in too.

#3 Seeds

1985 Villanova – The National Champion Wildcats will look to pull more upsets in this Historical Tournament
2010 West Virginia – De’Sean Butler leads the Mountaineers towards another Final Four
2009 Louisville – Terrance Williams and Earl Clark lead an athletic bunch who won both the BE Season and Tournament in one of the Big East’s finest years
1996 UConn – Ray Allen will look to put the Huskies on his back and make a run towards the Final Four he never made

#4 Seeds

1986 St. John’s – Willie Glass and Ron Rowan lead the 86 Redmen
1989 Georgetown – Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Charles Smith look for big things in this tournament
1993 Seton Hall – Terry Dehere and Jerry Walker lead the Pirates’ strongest team in the field
1987 Georgetown – Reggie Williams and another strong Hoyas team enter this tournament

*We currently have Kemba Walker and the 2011 UConn Huskies as a 5-seed. We realize that if they end up winning the National Championship, they will be dramatically underseeded. Look for them to jump up to a 2 or 3 seed if they pull it off.

The Tournament Bracket will be released next weekend. We need some final days to iron out this bubble situation and then the play-in games will start as soon as the Tournament Bracket is released. We’d love some feedback. Is there any team we’re missing from the top seeds?

UConn! Final Four!

March 26, 2011 9:51 pm by Big Willie Style

Congrats to the UConn Huskies for making the 2011 Final Four! UConn becomes the 5th Big East team in the last 5 years to make the final four. Does this validate the Big East’s wretched performance from last weekend? Probably not totally, but getting a fourth final four team in the last three years is pleasing. And the way this team has done it, is simply incredible. Kemba Walker, Jeremey Lamb and company have been very impressive and we at couldn’t be prouder of this young team. Hopefully, the Huskies can pull two more wins out of their magic hat! Go Huskies!

Big Least?

March 22, 2011 10:00 am by Dan'l B

(insert general acknowledgement to whichever pundit(s) coined that pun here)

There’s some interesting arguments discussed in Will’s weekend post-mortem. Here’s a few worthy of responses:

Media bias certainly CAN affect the power rankings by overvaluing intra-conference play… If West Virginia (for example… not picking on WVA) is overrated, then the boost a team gets in the power ranking is magnified when they beat them, and the loss to them is not as damaging to the power ranking. — RTP

RTP was responding to my assertion that sagarin,, and the RPI justified the Big East’s bids. Certainly, media-driven power rankings like the polls or ESPN’s “Power 16″ have their effect on the selection process, but the ratings systems like sagarin, kenpom, and the RPI (as awful as that is) are media-agnostic. The teams could be blindly named A, B, C, etc, and the ratings systems would spit out the same rankings. What matters is (a) who you play, (b) where you play, (c) when you play, (d) if you win, and (e) how much you win by. There’s subjectivity in how or if all these parameters are used, but there’s no “Big East fudge factor” or any fudge factor in favor of certain teams.

The Big East is no better than any other conference at gaming the ratings systems. The only way to “game” them is to win–it’s not gaming at all. It’s a simple fact: on balance, the Big East achieved better results out of conference than the rest of the country, and that distinction bears out in the agnostic ratings systems. I could care less what the polls say and have long ignored them. So yes, I see justification for 11 bids in the ratings systems. The Big East’s 11th ranked teams in sagarin (St Johns, 34th) and kenpom (Georgetown, 43rd after the tournament loss, mid-30s before) were well within the at-large range.

The Big East has good teams, very good coaches, and rabid fans but not a lot of great players, NBA type players. When you play teams w/ better athletes and better players, you get shown the door.

Does anybody believe that Arizona would still be dancing if Derrick Williams was just a solid 1st team All Pac 10 PF and not a NBA lottery pick? UK, Arizona, Ohio St., KU, UNC, SDSU, BYU, FSU, Richmond, Duke, Wisconsin, and Florida all have pro prospects that project higher than anyone in the Big East except Kemba Walker. Lo and behold, UConn is still dancing. Villanova and Mouphtaou Yarou may be the one anomaly.

VCU and Butler, also anomalies in my argument, have more heart and desire than most of the field and that worked for them. But I doubt either gets out of the Sweet 16. — Don Stone

Here’s a less tactful response: perhaps all these NBA prospects from other conferences (and I acknowledge that there is better individual talents in general this year from other conferences) are very NBA ready: they don’t try very hard unless it REALLY counts. The Big East’s top half beat those teams and players more often than not during the season.

The better response: it’s reasonable to say that these teams with more NBA-ready talent are probably younger and probably improved more during the season. By tournament time, they’ve caught up to older teams that achieved so well all season. UConn is again the exception for the Big East: they are the youngest team still alive (3 Fr, 1 So, 1 Jr starting). The other candidates for that distinction are Kentucky (3 Fr, 2 Jr) and UNC (2 Fr, 2 So, 1 Jr).

Don’t forget that pundits generally described the Big East as upper-middle heavy throughout the season: tons of very good teams bound for middling at-large seedings, but maybe one title contender in Pitt. There was media acknowledgement that the Big East lacked top-shelf talent. Despite that, they overachieved out of conference all year; doing so cast the Big East as better than they were in general. Middling teams got higher seeds than their talent should have justified, and the Big East’s mediocre teams (Marquette, Villanova, Cincy, Georgetown, St Johns) got into the tournament instead of other power conferences’ mediocre teams.

The “problem” for other power conferences was an inability to go out and beat the Big East enough during the season. If Duke had beaten (or even come close to) St Johns, perhaps the trickle-down effect gets Virginia Tech a bid. If Texas had beaten UConn or Pitt, perhaps Colorado gets in. If Kentucky had beaten UConn, perhaps Alabama gets in.

Losing in the NCAA tournament tarnished some great seasons for the Big East, but it doesn’t erase the whole season.

…your conference tournament is just all wrong. It’s a 16 team league. No need for any byes. Why reward anyone for league play when it is unneccessary! The reward is in the seeding for regular season. That’s plain and simple, but the Big East has that wrong as well. — GurualaKing

Here’s the steps to explaining the Big East Tournament:

  1. With 16 teams and no byes, there’d be eight first-round games. That necessitates playing over two nights, which gives half of the teams the advantage of a day’s rest, or splitting the round into two concurrent sets of four games at two sites, which moves 1/4 of the games away from MSG. Neither option is acceptable. The Big East tournament’s purpose is to showcase each team two at a time in MSG.
  2. The next option is to cut the number of tournament teams to 12 and have four byes like most major conferences. That denies four teams a chance to play their way in. That’s not acceptable.
  3. Next, how about starting with the 12-team tournament with four byes, but add the other four teams in: have the bottom eight teams play for the final four spots in the tournament. Ding! Ding! Ding! That’s exactly what the format is.

You can view the Big East tournament as a 12-team, 4-bye tournament formatted like everyone else’s tournaments, except there’s four play-in games to earn the final four tourney spots.

Will on TribLive: 3/21/2011

March 21, 2011 11:58 pm by donald

Here’s Will on TribLIVE Radio’s Big East show on Monday (3/21/2011).