How many Big East teams should make the tourney?

February 23, 2011

Marquette odd man out?

Matt Murschel

Orlando Sentinel

When the NCAA field of 68 is announced, don't be surprised to see 10 teams from the Big East make it.

Not hard to imagine when eight of the league's 16 teams are entrenched in this week's Top 25. Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Connecticut, Villanova, Louisville, and Syracuse are pretty much locks to make the tournament with St. John's making a strong case thanks to having the top strength of schedule in the nation.

That leaves West Virginia (17-9), Cincinnati (21-6), and possibly Marquette (16-11) on the outside looking in. The Mountaineers have a top 25 RPI and rank fourth in the nation in strength of schedule so they should also make it. The Bearcats play three ranked teams in their last four games and could make a strong case to also be included. That leaves Marquette as the possible odd man out.

mmurschel@tribune.com

11 teams deserving

Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune

Everyone can start complaining about East Coast bias, but the Big East deserves 11 teams in the NCAA tournament.

No one can argue with Pittsburgh as a No. 1 seed. No one can debate the merits of Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, Connecticut, Syracuse, Louisville or West Virginia. And how many teams can say they've beaten five ranked teams like St. John's? Welcome in Cincinnati, too, which has four victories against RPI-top 50 teams.

Marquette certainly has question marks, but their quality wins against Notre Dame, Syracuse and West Virginia should be enough to push them through the door.

sryan@tribune.com

11 ridiculous? No, it isn't

Chris Dufresne

Los Angeles Times

It seems ridiculous the Big East should get 11 bids to the NCAA tournament until you look at the conference and you look at the field.

Tournament expansion this year, from 65 to 68, means the bubble is going to be softer than it's ever been.

Bob Knight said Monday on ESPN that winning the Big East tournament this year may be almost as tough as winning the NCAA title. That's a stretch, but not by much.

Ten Big East teams rank in the top 38 of the latest RPI, with Marquette seemingly "iffy" at 68. But Marquette has a top 40 strength of schedule, wins against Notre Dame and Syracuse and only lost to No. 1 Duke by five. If the Big Ten can have 12 teams in football and the Big 12 can have 10, why can't the Big East send 11 to the tournament? It's also OK to rip the Big East unless it advances two teams to the Final Four.

cdufresne@tribune.com

Watch the bubbles

Mike Anthony

Hartford Courant

The field takes shape down the stretch and even well into conference tournaments.

A bubble team that's in today could be out with a couple of consecutive losses. So the real question is: Which teams will play their way in?

The Big East is, by far, the best conference in the nation that chews up and spits teams toward the selection committee with bumps and bruises.

The conference twice has had eight teams make it and 11 are now in position to play themselves in. The records might not match up with other conferences, but the RPIs and strength of schedules will. That's why Marquette and Cincinnati might push the Big East teams participating to a record 10 or 11.

manthony@tribune.com

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