Friday, November 03, 2006

The Big East = Big Hype ?

The Big East is getting a ton of love from the media lately. Part of the hype for the Louisville-WVU game involved the assertion that the Big East was back. On ESPN, Herbstreet and May had the Big East ranked 4th and 2nd, respectively, as a conference. 3 undefeated teams, they said. Solid depth from top to bottom. Good record against other BCS conference teams. All true. BUT, let’s take a closer look:

-Record against teams CURRENTLY in the top 25: 1-12

-Rutgers: Yes, they have impressed with their undefeated start. But an examination of their non-conference schedule shows that the BCS conference teams they have beaten are bottom feeders UNC and Illinois. Their signature win is over 6-2 Pittsburgh, and the only team with a winning record Pitt has beaten is 5-4 Cincinnati.

-Pittsburgh: Improved measurably over last year and are 6-2. Record against BCS conference teams is 1-1; a victory over struggling UVA and a loss to Michigan St.

-Cincinnati: Another team with an improved image from last season, standing at 5-4. All four losses were to teams with winning records that are ranked. 0-2 against BCS conference teams. Only win against an opponent with a winning record was USF.

-USF: 1-1 against BCS conference teams; win over UNC and loss to Kansas. No wins over a team with a winning record.

-UCONN: 3-5 record. 1-0 against BCS conference teams; win over Indiana.

-Syracuse: 3-6 record. 1-2 against BCS conference teams; win over Illinois. No wins over a team with a winning record.

-Louisville: undefeated. 3-0 against BCS conference teams; wins over Kentucky, Miami, and Kansas St. 5 wins against teams with winning records. Signature wins: Miami and WVU. Although, the Miami game is not as impressive as it was at the time.

-WVU: 7-1 record. Only loss to Louisville. Maryland is only team they beat that has a winning record. 2-0 against BCS conference teams; wins over Maryland and Miss St.

Looking at the above, we can conclude:

-The Big East is 11-6 against BCS conference teams. Maryland is the best BCS conference team that a Big East team has beaten and the only other big win against a BCS conference team was Miami. And we all can agree that Miami is not the “U” this year. Essentially, that gaudy record against BCS teams has been amassed against marginal teams and cellar dwellers (Illinois and UNC appear multiple times).

-From top to bottom: the Big East has very few wins agains teams with winning records.

So, while the Big East is getting a lot of love and has some teams with impressive records at the top, the question is: who have they beaten? Maryland is the best team that a Big East team has beaten this year.

The stats and schedules show that all the media fawning over the rise of the Big East may be nothing more than hype. I guess bowl season will tell us the reality of the situation. Until then, the media needs to temper the coronation of the Big East as a true power conference.


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