It's inevitable that we turn to the conference tallies by the end of the Round of 64.
The Atlantic 10 has been great.
The Pac-12 has been OK.
The Mountain West has underperformed.
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And you could say the same thing for the Big East after it lost half its teams on Friday in addition to Pittsburgh's ugly showing on Thursday. No. 10 Cincinnati was taken down by Creighton. No. 7 Notre Dame wasn't competitive against Iowa State. No. 8 Villanova couldn't hit fourth gear against erratic North Carolina.
And, of course, the whopper: second-seeded Georgetown becoming the seventh No. 2 in history to fall to a 15. That's the signature loss for the team and the league. It was just barely over a week ago that Georgetown was playing against Syracuse with the possibility of a No. 1 seed on the line. Now this. It's all gone so fast.
Which means the league came thisclose to being 2-6 in the first two days of the NCAA tournament, a sputtering and whimpering way to exit, collectively, for the Big East as we know it inside the Big Bracket. Even 3-5 isn't that great. Louisville, Syracuse and Marquette will carry the banner heading into the weekend.
These small sample sizes can be tricky. They can drive conversation and cause conclusions to be drawn that are sometimes fair and sometimes not. Five losses in do-or-die situations are not a referendum on a conference. But that's the beauty and blight of this tournament. You have to show up when the lights are brightest and everyone's watching. When, by definition, the games mean more.
The Big East wasn't the best league this year. For a time, it had a claim to be No. 2. But as it's done a few times over the past decade, when mid-March arrives the duds sprout.
I was there at Madison Square Garden last week when they pulled apart the floor and closed up shop on that iteration of that conference which is now getting picked off fastidiously. It's not depressing or worthy of a novella, but maybe it's appropriate that the Big East did this to itself and it's unable to pull together one last hoorah here.
Or maybe this is reaction too soon as well. If the three surviving teams make it to the Sweet 16, they're likely to have just as many in the second weekend as any other conference. But given the eight bids were more than any other league, most probably didn't think it'd be so small so fast.