"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The biggest Big East non-conference wins this year (through 12/8)

Last night's win over Wisconsin got me thinking about the biggest non-conference wins the Big East has had so far this season. MU's win over Wisconsin is arguably one of the best out-of-conference wins by any Big-East team this year. But who else has stepped up and won a big game?

I know there are still a handful of big games yet to come--Georgetown at Memphis the most notable--but we've seen enough basketball so far to identify some of the standout games for the Big East.

Here are my rankings of the best non-conference wins in the Big East to date:

1. (Tie): Marquette over Wisconsin, Providence over Arkansas.
Yes, I'm a homer for MU, but winning at the Kohl center isn't something that happens very often. Nonetheless, I'll share credit with Providence's impressive win over Arkansas. Both wins represent victories over teams that have a chance to contend for the title in their respective conferences. While neither UW-Madison or Arkansas are the outright favorites, both have been reasonably impressive in their non-conference performances to date, have deep, talented rosters.

3. (Tie): Providence and Seton Hall over Virgina.
Virgina is no Duke or UNC, but the Cavs have a good chance to take 3rd the the ACC this year--they have played well when not facing Big East competition, putting up seven wins in seven tries (although only one of those wins--Arizona--is meaningful).

5. Providence over BC
BC is a young team, but is putting together a nice non-conference record. Providence is their only loss. They have managed to beat Rhode Island--something Syracuse, Providence or South Florida have failed to do.

6. Notre Dame over Kansas State.
I predict I'll take heat for ranking this win this low--but I don't think Kansas State has met expectations all year. Beating them is not the big deal many are making it out to be. K-State has posted non-conferences losses to George Mason and Oregon, and required overtime to beat Central Florida. Until today's win over California, their most impressive wins was over Rider.

7. UL over UNLV
Prior to losing Padgett for the year, Louisville easily dispatched UNLV. An impressive win in what may well be a long season for the Cards.

8. Georgetown over Alabama.
Believe it or not, this is the Hoyas biggest test so far this year. And, yes, I know I use the word "test" advisedly, since Alabama isn't very good. However, this was part of the inaugural BE/SEC challenge. And frankly, there aren't many more impressive wns to pick from.

9. MU over Oklahoma State
This game makes the list not because Oklahoma State is that good, but because the thrashing that MU put on the Cowboys was that thorough. Plus, Oklahoma State was impressive in their win over Washington.

10. USF over Florida State
This makes the list because of the intra-state nature of the game, the fact that FSU is an ACC team, and the fact that there simply aren't many more impressive non-conference wins for the Big East. I wanted the top 10--but one could argue there aren't that many.

Honorable Mention:
Villanova over George Mason, Pitt over Washington.

A few upcoming games could affect these ratings. For example, if Rutgers knocks off UNC, I'll they'll move to the #1 spot in a heartbeat. Ditto for the aforementioned Georgetown/Memphis tilt.

And if Cincinnati manages to win any one of their remaining four non-conference games, it will be impressive. Of course, they play Miami of Ohio, Xavier, NC State and Memphis, so winning will require them to step it up quite a bit.

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