The Big East came into the season with a ridiculous amount of hype and they have, for the most part, lived up to it. The depth of the league wasn’t what it was supposed to be, but the top three teams are very good and could all win it without a huge surprise. If I had to pick one conference from which the winner will come it would be this one.
Best Team – It could go three ways, but I’ll show my personal bias and take Louisville. I am concerned that they lost to UConn, but they have gotten better with each game as the season has progressed, and they seem to be rounding nto form right now. Unlike other teams in the group I love how deep this team is – they aren’t nearly as reliant on one or two players as others. I also can’t go against Rick Pitino in this situation – he knows how to get the most out of his team in March. Since the Cards lost to UConn they have been able to see more of a blueprint of how to deal with the Huskies.
Worst Tournament Team – Marquette. It’s not really their fault. Dominic James was even more important to this team than his numbers would suggest, and they clearly aren’t the same without him.
True Contenders – Louisville, UConn and Pittsburgh are among the very elite, and Villanova and Syracuse could rise up and put on a show.
Team That Bugs Me – West Virginia. The state hasn’t been nice to Rich Rodriguez since he moved on, so I won’t be nice to them.
Potential to Rise Up – Syracuse has lots of flaws, but Jonny Flynn is so much fun to watch, and the team is rounding into form at the right time.
Likely to Disappoint – UConn. They are very good. I don’t dispute that. It’s just that all three top teams can’t achieve all they are supposed to, and the Huskies are my odd man out. I can’t get over the fact that Pitt has beat them twice. There is no shame in losing to the Panthers, but I would have liked to have seen the Huskies adjust and adapt better than they did in the second game. I’m not convinced that they will live up to potential.
Best Player – DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh. He led the league in rebounds, and he had 17 double-doubles. He plays a style of game that I love – he’s tough and relentless and will do anything for the ball.
Player to Watch – Earl Clark, Louisville. Clark leads the Cardinals, and he’s obviously impressive. He’s just the kind of player who plays his best when the most is on the line.
Overrated Player – Hasheem Thabeet, UConn. Thabeet is obviously a beast, and when he plays his best he is as good as there is. He just doesn’t have the hunger I wish he had. He doesn’t show up for some games when he should, and when he isn’t in form he’s just a waste of space.