No Syracuse. No Louisville. No Connecticut. No problem for the Big East this year, as they are off to a surprisingly quick start to the season, even after many “experts” predicted a down year for the conference. While competing in some of the most prestigious non-conference tournaments around, the conference is continuing to hold their own. Not only are the likes of Villanova, Butler, Creighton, and Georgetown winning, but so is Providence, DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Xavier. That’s right, every team in the Big East has a winning record up to this point in the season.
Now if that’s not surprising enough, consider the conference’s record against quality opponents. Seven teams have a winning record (Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova), one team is .500 (St. John’s), and only Georgetown and Xavier are under .500 against such opponents, with one of Georgetown’s two losses coming against Big East foe Butler. The conference is 47-11 (.810 winning percentage) overall at this point in the season, while also going 14-7 (.660 winning percentage) against quality opponents.
Now of that 13-7 record, Big East teams are also 5-5 against the Top 25, with their wins against #18 Oklahoma, #14 Virginia Commonwealth, #19 Michigan, #5 North Carolina, and #18 Florida. That is quite a list in a whole. Then you consider the five losses: #20 Ohio State, #2 Wisconsin, #10 Gonzaga, #20 Michigan State, and #1 Kentucky. That is also quite a list, which none of those losses will be considered “bad” losses. Either way, those are great numbers for a conference that has gone to hell and back when you consider the controversy that has surrounded it in the past couple of years.
No Doug McDermott. No Bryce Cotton. Again, no problem for the Big East. Scoring for the conference was supposed to be a problem this year. Only one, D’Angelo Harrison from St. John’s, of the top five scorers from the conference last year returned this season, and while he is on that top five list again this year, others have stepped up to keep the list plentiful. LaDontae Henton (Providence), Sterling Gibbs (Seton Hall), Rysheed Jordan (St. John’s), and Trevon Bluiett (Xavier) have all added their names to that list, and all of them are scoring above 17 PPG.
In a year where the Big East conference was supposed to be an afterthought, they have put the nation on notice early. Continuing this success will determine whether the conference can officially enter the discussion of being one of the “elite” conferences in the country. The teams have yet to beat up on each other, as this is a much deeper conference than most people expected. All in all, the conference can strive to get seven bids into the NCAA tournament…while hoping they can surprise some people there, too.
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