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Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Big East, Mediocrity and a Dumb Comment from the Big East's Commissioner

It hasn't been as though the Big East has dominated the NCAA tournament so far. The Big East, which benefits from huge media coverage precisely because most of its teams are in the densely populated northeastern part of the U.S., has shown, well, that it's human. Thursday's games were one overtime win (Villanova, which beat Robert Morris by playing 8 on 5, if you counted the refs as part of the Wildcats' starting lineup) away from an unmitigated disaster of biblical proportions.

The Big East has many good programs and teams. It has benefited, though, from great public relations and much more significant media coverage than the average conference that's west of the Mississippi. The huge concentration of population in the northeastern United States and the presence of ESPN in Connecticut helps ensure that Big East teams get a great deal of attention. The performance of Big East teams in the NCAA tournament, however, suggests that the Big East gets too much attention when compared to, say, Washington or Cal (my pick to beat Duke in the second round on Sunday).

Compounding the overhyping is this article at NCAA Fanhouse, where Big East Commissioner John Marinatto is quoted as favoring a 96-round tournament and says he is looking forward to the day when 16 Big East teams make it into the NCAA field. Here are a few reactions to his comments:

  • are you kidding me?
  • what the heck did you expect him to say?
  • yes, I'd like to see DePaul and Rutgers in the first round, even if they're 7-21 apiece.
  • your conference has played so well in the tournament so far that I just can't wait to see how the teams that finished in the bottom 8 of the conference would fare in the first round.
  • and this would be good for college basketball because?
  • do you have at least once ounce of objectivity left in you?
  • Yep, that's just why we need to create a 96-team tournament, so that every school in the Big East, ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big 10 and Pac 10 can make it into the tournament.
  • haven't you paid any attention to the NBA at all about having too many teams make the post-season?
  • he's just puffing.
  • Goofball.
  • Why would any conference ever get all of its teams into the NCAA tournament?

And, I'm sure, many more. 96 teams is a bad idea. It's mercenary and it's greedy. The NCAA believes that it will enhance revenue, but a 96-team field will dilute the outstanding brand name the tournament has now and might dilute revenues, as I can't imagine people in the northeast watching Bowling Green-Michigan State in the first round (as we had to do mid-day today in high definition in the women's bracket). Sorry, Mr. Marinatto, regarding your overall views of the expansion of the field to 96, but you're just plain wrong.

All 16 Big East teams in the NCAA Tournament?

How exciting!



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