Despite the media campaign being run against them, the Big East completely vindicated its 11 tournament selections by going 13-10 in the tournament. That 57% winning percentage that is almost exactly the average for a BCS Conference over the last three years, and 11% better than the average Mid-Major performance:
|3-year||Ave. of 64||Wins||Losses||Percentage|
In short, the fact that 11 tournament invites could compile virtually the same winning percentage as the other BCS conferences get with 4 or 6 invitations shows the right number of teams are being invited. It is important to answer the critics because future bids could be on the line:
1. Charles Barkley's prediction that there is no way the Big East would have six teams in the Sweet 16 was quite bold considering no conference has ever done that. Barkley wrapped up a disasterous three weeks on the NCAA circuit last night by predicting before the game that if the game was messy and the game wasn't played in the 70s then Butler would win. How wrong and incompetent can you be for three weeks running - one of the messiest and lowest scoring games was an easy UConn victory - would have won by 20 if Kemba's ankle wasn't hurt.
2. Another announcer said he hoped the Big East's "disasterous" tournament would ensure that no conference ever received 11 bids again because more Mid-Majors need to be invited. Let me get this straight - an average of 17 Mid-Majors are in the field every year and win 46% of their games and an average of 9 Big East teams are in the field every year and win 60% of their games, and this means we need - what 23 Mid-Majors so teams like UAB can get blown out? Seventeen certainly gives the VCUs and Butlers a shot every year, but as the only conference that has produced a Final Four team three straight years, I don't believe the Big East should be the one losing spots:
Final 4 teams last three years
Big East 4
Big Ten 2
If any BCS Conference hasn't justified it's spots, it's been the SEC and Pac10 who have a lower winning percentage in tourney play just sending their top 4 teams every year.
3. The Big East only had two Sweet 16 teams because they beat other Big East teams to get there! This one really bugged me, since you can just as easily theorize that four Big East teams would have been in the Sweet 16 if they hadn't knocked each other off. Certainly the Cincy-UConn game was particularly risky to UConn since they DIDN'T LOSE TO A NON-BIG EAST TEAM ALL YEAR. Maybe Syracuse would have won against a team that hadn't figured them out earlier in the year, and maybe a hot Cincy team would have beaten someone besides the eventual national champs - cuts both ways.
4. The winning percentage is distorted because it would be a losing record without UConn's national title run! As shown above, the ACC is the only conference with a better winning percentage than the Big East over the last three years by a 63% to 60% margin. Now if we take out national championship teams, the Big East still has a 56% winning percentage while the ACC drops to 46%. The impressive part about the Big East this year was not that they had the one dominant Duke, UNC or Kentucky team that can win it all after playing in a weak conference. The amazing thing about the Big East this year was that we had 11 teams probably somewhere between the 10th and 40th best teams in the country, and that had never happened before. Sure, I didn't expect Louisville to lose opening round (I picked them out 2nd round) or Pitt to foul Howard 85 feet from the basket to lose, but I also didn't believe the Big East had a Final Four team this year and our 9th place team that went 9-9 this regular season just won the title.
The average nine spots has proven right, and in a particularly balanced year 11 could be completely justified while in a top-heavy season we may just get seven. But their is no statistical justification for saying the Big East received too many bids this year or in recent history.