Monday, January 18, 2010

How Tough is the Big East?

(Photo Credit Detroit Free Press)
The Big East is good. With Villanova, Syracuse and Pittsburgh all in the top ten, the Big East is very good. But I have to ask, how tough is the big east? And when I ask how tough, I mean how knock down, drag em' out, contest every shot, scrap for every rebound, play hard and foul hard tough is the Big East? It's a fair question to ask after UConn's loss to Michigan on Sunday. I know UConn is not the shining gem of the Big East this year, so too much emphasis shouldn't be placed on this game. But Indiana managed to out tough the toughest Big East team of the moment, Pitt earlier this season. And Purdue absolutely put a clinic on West Virginia. All of those losses were away, and we all know how big home court is, but that doesn't completely excuse the fact that the Big East got plain out toughed in these contests.

Rebounding is usually one of the first measures of how tough a team plays. From that standpoint, the Big East looks pretty good. Against out of conference BCS foes this season, the Big East has outrebounded opponents 1258 to 1207. And, in fact West Virginia, Pitt and UConn all managed to outrebound their opponents in the games listed above. But rebounds don't tell the whole tale. Defense is the other measure for the intangible "tough" factor. There were times in yesterday's contest against Michigan that UConn defenders didn't look like they knew or cared that Zach Novak was wide open for yet another 3.

If you look at Big East teams in the top 25 (Nova, Cuse, Pitt, W. Virginia and Georgetown), Syracuse is currently the only team holding non-conference BCS opponents below their season average in field goal percentage. And, for the record, that is one of the major reasons I feel Syracuse is going to win the coference this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see Cuse win it all, because they're a great team playing in a very good conference. But I still have to ask, how tough is it?

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