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The Big Least

It looks like West Virginia is going to salvage The Nation's Best Conference - the Mountaineers just won 77-50 - but the Big East has certainly taken a beating.

Ohio (who lost to UB a few weeks back!) over Georgetown? Washington over Marquette? Old Dominion over Notre Dame? Villanova struggling to beat Robert Morris? Even the first eight minutes or so of the Morgan State-West Virginia game had its tense moments for the Mountaineers.

The Hoyas losing was a huge surprise but Washington has been playing well of late, ODU was good enough to beat Georgetown earlier in the year, Notre Dame was considered a bubble team just two weeks ago and Villanova is way over seeded.

The Big East is still a strong league but even Jim Boeheim said on Thursday that it isn't as strong as it was last season. You can't expect to have the same kind of product after losing so much talent to the NBA. Also, after beating up on each other for four months, the teams are tired.

In January, Syracuse had a stretch where it played at West Virginia and Notre Dame then returned home to play Marquette and Georgetown. None of those teams are seeded lower than a No. 6 which means, according to the NCAA Tournament committee, are considered some of the top 25 teams in the country. Even one of the preceived bottom teams - Rutgers - beat the Hoyas late in the season. There's no chance to take a breather in the Big East.

So it may be a blessing in disguise that Syracuse was eliminated from the Big East Tournament so early. It gave the Orange some time to rest. Come tonight against Vermont, we'll see if that holds true and maybe the Orange can a return a measure of respect back to the Big East. 

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic

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