With big wins, Notre Dame and Syracuse show depth of ’09 Big East conference

Many are coming out and praising the strength of the Big East Conference this year and I want to follow up on that lead. After watching the Notre Dame and Syracuse men’s basketball teams — No. 4 and No. 8 respectively in preseason Big East rankings — take down two of the top three Big 12 teams on Tuesday night (Nov. 25th), it’s quite clear to me that this is a conference as deep as we have ever seen in college basketball history, if not moreso.

The Big East set a record with eight NCAA Tournament bids last season, but if they don’t surpass that figure this season it will come as a shock to many. A considerably conservative estimate has the Big East at nine potential bids already this early in the season. With four of the top eight teams in the nation (No. 2 Connecticut, No. 3 Louisville, No. 4 Pittsburgh joining the Irish) and seven teams ranked in the top 25 currently, that projection is very, very likely.

Aside from the power at the top which will make the Big East as good as it ever has been, it’s the depth in the middle and at the bottom which will give it in my opinion double-digit bids and make it the best conference not only this season but of all time in NCAA play.

Now it is early and I have yet to see a lot of the Big East teams play, but if we just go off of Tuesday’s action, it is clear that the Big East is going to be a force to be reckoned with this season and certainly head and shoulders above the rest of its competition.

Syracuse, for example, picked to finish eighth out of 18 Big East teams took on a very young and talented No. 23 ranked Kansas squad essentially in a road contest, fell behind by as many as 13 points in the second half before tying the game and sending it into overtime on a three-pointer from PG and tournament MVP Johnny Flynn. Flynn had 25 points while leading the Orange to the big comeback win. Paul Harris [14 points and 14 rebounds] and Erinze Onoauku [19 points and 12 rebounds] also had huge games. The ‘Cuse will be a much-improved team from 2007-08 and as the No. 8 team in the Big East, it just goes to show the talent that the conference has overall.

As of right now, I project 11 Big East teams to make the NCAA Tournament. Yes, I said 11.

The list (in projected order of finish):

  1. UConn
  2. Louisville
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Notre Dame
  5. Villanova
  6. Marquette
  7. Syracuse
  8. Georgetown
  9. Cincinnati
  10. West Virginia
  11. Seton Hall

As far as I’m concerned, with how deep the league is, any team with at least eight conference wins and perhaps even seven (so 8-10 record) should definitely make the tournament. I think as many as 10 and even 11 teams will be in the top 50 in RPI. THAT IS RIDICULOUS! Another projection of mine is that six, maybe seven Big East teams will make the Elite Eight depending on the bracketing. Think about that for a minute.

Anyways, it’s early and I for one am extremely anxious and excited to see the 2008-09 basketball season play out. It’s going to be a good one.

Especially in the Big East.

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This is the first in what will be a long line of College Basketball related posts — predominantly featuring the Big East Conference — in which I take a look at the top teams in the nation and break down my top sixteen teams which I think will do some serious damage come tourney time.

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