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I figured Pitt had drawn such a feeble bracket even they couldn’t choke it up. Predictably, I was very mistaken. (Also, the refs might be accused of “not letting the players decide it,” but both calls were right.)

I remained underwhelmed by the allegedly great Big East…

Silver: “3 biggest underdog winners so far according to our projections — Morehead St., Butler, VCU — all won against Big East opponents.”

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  • efgoldman

    The calls were absolutely legit, both ways,
    Just dumb, unthinking plays by members of both teams.
    Which is the kind of thing that makes the first weekend so great.
    I have absolutely no rooting interest (my BU Terriers were a first round sacrificial… umm… dog, and I don’t do pools or brackets) but i was shouting out loud at my teevee.

  • timb

    As a resident of Indianapolis, let me just again say it’s wonderful that Butler is back in the Sweet 16 AND has saved basketball again for white Hoosiers

  • Bill Murray

    …Silver: “3 biggest underdog winners so far according to our projections — Morehead St., Butler, VCU — all won against Big East opponents.”

    Has the idea tha this happened because the Big east was so tough the teams were worn out for the tournament begun to take hold yet?

    • John

      That was certainly the thing last year.

      My sense is that the strong reputation of the Big East isn’t simply made up, but is actually based on them doing very well against non-conference opponents in the early part of the season. Still, it seems like for the last few years they’ve been consistently overrated.

  • It’s amazing how sportswriters and broadcasters just assume something and push it on the rest of us: see Big East supremacy in basketball and SEC supremacy in football.

    The rest of D-1 might as well take the year off as far as ESPN and the rest of the cast are concerned.

    • Anonymous

      The difference being that at least the SEC shows up in football

  • Yeah well, WHATEVER, Lemieux….

    Read this Terrifying News and try to laugh it off!


    No, seriously, try to laugh that off. You might crack a rib…

    • Scott Lemieux

      I’d joke and say that Aaron Small is the #4, except that he’d probably go 23-4…

  • LosGatosCA

    The Big East was a fraud last year and I tried to pass on the them at every turn. Unfortunately, Scott is correct on Pitt being in a relatively weak bracket until I thought they would meet BYU without their suspended big guy. So I had Pitt in the final four.

    I picked against Villanova, Cincy, St Johns, Georgetown, Marquette,and West Virginia – net result 3-3. Picked for Pitt, ND, Louisville, UConn – 4-2 to date, but now shut out of the Pitt bracket which means 2 more losses plus another Louisville loss in a game they didn’t make it to. Consequently, even knowing the Big East was overrated picking against them the majority of the time I still end up projecting 7-8 result with my bracket with 1 game pending between Syr and Marquette. Based on their annual subpar performance, I’m expecting Marquette will beat Syracuse to cause maximum damage to my bracket. Imagine if I actually thought they were good.

    It’s just a mediocre conference with a major PR advantage in NY, and with 8 dozen schools in it, one of them is bound to get somewhere, even win it outright occasionally. But the depth is just not there. How did St Johns get a 6 seed, Notre Dame a 2, Louisville a 4, and Pitt a 1?

  • In ancient history, the Big East got more teams in because their commissioner was head of the selection committee.

    For a brief period, they were the strongest Eastern conference, to the point where even Jim Boeheim could rent-a-player to a national title without defense, ball control, or free throws. (As Greg Mitchell notes, Knicks are 7-7 since the trade; Nuggets something like 9-2.)

    In the correlation-does-not-equal-causation realm, the decline of the Big East began when the Big Ten added a Conference Tournament to its schedule, reminding coaches that making the Sweet Sixteen or Final Four meant having to win two games in forty-eight hours.

    Silver should check the data, but my rough impression is that the conference tournament makes leagues stronger for the tournament–but when everyone’s doing it, the “competitive advantage” vanishes. And the Big East has nothing to supplement it.

  • nanute

    Butler has shown that they can play against anyone and win. Best comment so far by Sir Charles. When someone made the point that UNLV’s Runnin’ Rebels could still make a run in the second half, Charles said: “They ain’t makin’ no run. They’ll be runnin’ for the bus.”

    • barkley looked and sounded so hung over last night. he makes low effort broadcasting pretty entertaining. the big east teams would be doing better if sean mcdonough had been calling some of the games!

  • randomliberal

    Also, the refs might be accused of “not letting the players decide it,”

    I hate this construction so much. Shelvin Mack decided to overplay the ball on the inbounds and ran over Gilbert Brown, and Nasir Robinson decided to go over Matt Howard’s back. A foul is a foul, no matter when it’s committed, and it’s up to the players to know that a foul in that situation would lead to two shots. Not calling the foul in either situation would have been completely incorrect.

  • 4jkb4ia

    Shut up, Nate. I mean this in the nicest possible way, and it is said because you were a) right and b) displaying Big 10 prejudice.

    One NEVER assumes that Butler is a creampuff. Butler fought to make it this far and has the tourney experience.

    Due to Temple-SDSU and utter desperation to finish Ramban comment with at least 7 footnotes did not see much of Pitt game at all. Threw up hands and said, “March Madness, baby!” and “On Purim, anything can happen”. On Purim, anything did happen, like Washington making a number of stupid turnovers.

    When only the two teams who were handed a matchup in their own conference made the Sweet 16 it does not look good if you are arguing that the Big East isn’t overrated.

  • 4jkb4ia

    And BTD is John Cole’s new best friend as far as I am concerned. The meaning of this must remain enigmatic.

  • 4jkb4ia

    On subject of “On Purim, anything can happen”, read very cool chapter by Aviva Zornberg today. There is the “anything can happen” of the world of Achashverosh and Haman where all the order and system disguises whim and narcissism. There is also the “anything can happen” of Mordecai and Esther where the key phrase is “Who knows”, emphasis on the “Who”. Zornberg supports this with a quote from Kierkegaard that faith is the receiving everything back when you have lost it in every possibility–you can gain the divine meaning to things when you are prepared to lose everything and cannot do otherwise.

    (See, this kind of outpouring of energy is not unique to Balloon Juice at all….)

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