Please skip below this article to read about why Marquette beat Xavier, but I had to take a second (and that’s about all it would really take) to answer the charge Charles Barkley is leading on the Big East being the most overrated conference this year. To back up his case that the Big East was overrated, he boldly predicted the Big East would not have six Sweet 16 teams.
He is correct, but the fact that no conference will have six teams in the Sweet 16 this year, and the fact that the Big East just set the all-time record with FIVE Sweet 16 teams two years makes this a silly standard. The Big East will have between two and five teams, easily maintaining the lead it has in Sweet 16 teams since 2000:
|Sweet 16 since 2000||Now||Bestcase||2009||2010||2011 (possible)|
|Big East||31||36||Lville, Uconn, Syr, Pitt, Vill (5-record)||Syr, WVU (2)||ND, WVU, Marq, Syr,Cin,Uconn,Pitt (2-5)|
|Big 12||25||28||KS, Mizz, Okl (3)||KS, Bay (2)||Kan, KState,TX (3)|
|Big Ten||22||27||MSU, Purd (2)||MSU, OSU, Purd (3)||Ill, Purd,OSU,Mich,Wis (5)|
|ACC||21||24||UNC, Duke (2)||Duke (1)||FloSt, UNC, Duke (3)|
|Pac10||21||24||AZ (1)||Wash (1)||Wash,AZ,UCLA (3)|
|SEC||19||21||None (0)||Tenn, KY (2)||KY,Flo (2)|
|Conf USA||9||9||Memphis (1)||None (0)||None (0)|
Charles Barkley was a great NBA player and is a great NBA analyst, but after leading Auburn to ZERO NCAA tourney wins during his career there it appears his college knowledge is lacking.
In addition to apparently not realizing how outlandish the Sweet 16 prediction was, his first couple of days of commentary included:
1. Predicted Clemson would upset West Virginia, then after he was wrong cried that Clemson had not had enough rest because of the play-in game. That argument looked even more silly when the other play-in winner VCU destroyed Georgetown.
2. Said Marquette did not deserve a bid, only to be proven wrong by MUs 11-point win over 6-seed Xavier. (come on Dwyane, can’t you work on him?)
The fact is the only Conference with an argument with the Big East as top conference was the Big Ten, which was rated slightly higher in Pomeroy because his system kills a conference for one terrible team (DePaul). However, Sagarin rated the Big East as by far the best, and take DePaul out and Pomeroy does as well. It should be noted the Big East went 5-2 against the Big Ten this year, just as it dominated the rest of college basketball. No other conference was close to the Big East.
Critics were waiting to jump on any Big East loss in the NCAA tournament, and so far two teams have lost with big injuries (Lville and SJU), two that combined to lose their last 9 Big East games lost (Gtown and Nova) and the other seven won to give the Big East two more 3rd round teams than anyone else. My formula picked the Big East to go 14-11 in the tourney and picked the Big 10 to go 13-7, and if that plays out it would give them a better tourney record, but I would have to believe if the Big Ten had sent 11 teams the best case would have been one win from Northwestern to match the Big East’s 14-11 mark.
You can argue that DePaul is so bad that the Big Ten nudges the Big East if you want, but otherwise the conferences dominance of the regular season and continued ability to advance more teams to the second weekend than any other conference makes them the best – and Sir Charles arguments weak.