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Blog Entry

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)

Posted on: November 10, 2008 10:08 am

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I know you think I am crazy but I believe top to bottom the ACC is the dominant league in the country, and I refuse to capitalize big east to show my lack of respect.  Sure the big east consistently has more teams in the (NCAA tournament) and more teams ranked in the top 25, but it also has more teams.

-- Lawrence

You're correct.

I do think you're crazy.

Because not only is the Big East better than the ACC, this version of the Big East is so good that I'm calling it the toughest league in college basketball history until I see otherwise. I mean, why do you think Providence had such a hard time hiring a coach? Answer: It's because trying to consistently finish in the top half of the Big East is going to be extremely difficult for Providence given the quality and depth at the top, and Providence is a pretty nice program. Trust me, a coach would much rather play an ACC schedule than a Big East schedule if only because it's reasonable for everybody in the ACC to at least shoot for the middle. In other words, there isn't a program in the ACC that couldn't hope to finish in the top six of the ACC in any given year. On the other hand, it's practically  impossible for nearly half of the Big East  programs to ever hope to consistently finish in the top six of the Big East, and any of the top Big East teams are just one injury or issue from slipping to the middle because of the number of quality programs. Consider that I think Syracuse might be a top 15 team, but it would be hard for anybody to justify ranking the Orange in the top five of the Big East. That's all you need to know about the strength at the top. And though I agree that the Big East has more good teams and more bad teams based upon it having more teams in general, I still have nine of the 16 Big East teams making the NCAA tournament compared to six of the 12 ACC teams.

That means 56.3 percent of the Big East should make the NCAA tournament compared to 50.0 of ACC teams.

That means the Big East is better and tougher and just a nightmare to navigate.

Anyway, Lawrence, when I got your email I started thinking how a Big East-ACC Challenge might look. So what I decided to do is take the top six from each league and match them against each other. Here's what I got assuming all games were played on neutral courts:

1. Louisville vs. North Carolina

  • Winner: North Carolina

2. Connecticut vs. Duke

  • Winner: Connecticut

3. Notre Dame vs. Miami

  • Winner: Notre Dame

4. Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest

  • Winner: Pittsburgh

5. Marquette vs. Virginia Tech

  • Winner: Marquette

6. Georgetown vs. Clemson

  • Winner: Georgetown

So when I matched the six projected NCAA tournament teams from the ACC against the top six projected NCAA tournament teams from the Big East I came to the conclusion that the Big East would win five of those games. Methinks that suggests the Big East is better, but I'm willing to listen if somebody else wants to make the ACC's case.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Nov 17, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2008 3:08 pm

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)


I wrote the email and I will now defend my position.  Again you should focus on the TOP TO BOTTOM ASPECT<o:p></o:p>

So if the big east is the superior league this year and last year shouldn't they have been better than the ACC in at least one of the following, average adjusted offensive efficiency, average adjusted defensive efficiency, head-to-head regular season wins, head-to-head quality wins against future tournament teams.  They beat the ACC in none of these categories.<o:p></o:p>

Let’s look at them<o:p></o:p>

1.     Average adjusted offensive efficiency (ACC 112.66 big east 111.24)<o:p></o:p>

2.     Average adjusted defensive efficiency (ACC 93.1 big east 93.4)<o:p></o:p>

3.     Head-to-head regular season wins (ACC 10 big east 5)<o:p></o:p>

4.     Head-to-head quality wins against future NCAA teams including the NCAA tournament (ACC 4 big east 3) The seven quality wins are listed below<o:p></o:p>

  • UNC over Louisville<o:p></o:p>
  • Duke over Marquette<o:p></o:p>
  • Georgia Tech over Notre Dame<o:p></o:p>
  • NC State over Villanova<o:p></o:p>
  • Pitt over Duke<o:p></o:p>
  • WVU over Duke<o:p></o:p>

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2008 12:07 am

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)

Remember that West Virginia put Duke out and Villanova put Clemson out as well.

Your Heels deserve the pre-season #1 but the ACC is a distant 2nd to the Big East this year.

Big East was 7-1 in the first round of the tournament with the lone loss by UCONN after Price blew out his knee in the first half of their game with San Diego.

Since: Nov 12, 2008
Posted on: November 12, 2008 3:58 pm

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)

Big East by far the best.  The Beast of the East is back.   ACC?   Not so much.


The ACC has been a top heavy league.  Aside from a few (very few) off seasons from UNC and Duke, the league is usually Duke, UNC and maybe one other that is hot for a period of years.   For a while it was Georgia Tech.  Then Maryland.   Wake has shown promise some years.   NC State occasionally steps back on the national radar, but not so much anymore.  The league just can't ever seem to string together 5 solid teams that have a legit shot at beating one another season after season.


NC State looks like it is sliding.  Maryland may v ery well be heading in that direction as well.  The Florida schools always frustrate.  Virginia looks like it is not serious about being a major player.   After the top 2 there is a big drop.  After the top 3 or 4 you are cliff diving.


Meanwhile the Big East has 11 teams his season that are tourney caliber (granted they will never see that many bids).  At least 5 who you could argue have at least a shot at making the Final Four.   Providence would finish no worse than 4th or 5th in the ACC this  season and they may not even make the tourney out of the Big East.

Since: Nov 28, 2007
Posted on: November 12, 2008 7:48 am

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)

I don't doubt what you say about the Big East being the toughest conference this year by far. My question concerning the Big East is that once they get into conference play they'll do exactly as the SEC has being doing for years in football....So how do you think that will play out when they start piling up losses come selection Sunday? Nine teams just seems a little high is all I'm saying...what's the record btw? six? seven?

Since: Mar 12, 2007
Posted on: November 11, 2008 2:34 pm

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)


The leadership/experience issue is a fair point and a much better argument than "lack of proven scorers", which is what it seemed that your first argument was.  I may be a bit biased (I know, surpise), but I put a lot of stock in Coach Thompson and his system, which seems to limit the exposure of inexperienced players because individual players are not required to make much of an impact -- it's more team-oriented.  Austin Freeman jumped in as a freshman starter last year and DaJuan Summers did the same the year before that, so there's a chance that the Hoyas' transition will be smoother than some expect.  We can agree that there may be some early growing pains and that they could have things straightened out by midseason, so it would depend when this hypothetical game was played.  Thanks for clarifying your case.

Since: Oct 12, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2008 4:10 pm

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)

: I’m sure that certain Hoyas will step up this season and produce, but based on what I know about Clemson and Georgetown in the preseason I’d go with Clemson.  The Tigers have three proven scorers in the starting rotation and three starters who are JRs or SRs while not starting any freshmen.    I’m a big fan of SR and JR leadership and Georgetown will probably start a true freshman at Center and the important players on the bench will all be true freshmen or transfers.   Maybe after non-conference play I’ll change my mind, but right now Clemson gets the edge in terms of the team they will actually put on the floor the first day of the season whereas Georgetown has the edge in upside. 

Since: Mar 12, 2007
Posted on: November 10, 2008 3:08 pm

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)

The Hoyas are overrated with just one projected starter scoring in double figures last season

Robothouse - Is this supposed to mean that none of this year's Hoyas will step up and average double-figures now that Hibbert and Wallace are gone?  If this is your argument, then Kansas should only score about 25 point per game with the players that they return from last season.

The Hoyas aren't the Tar Heels, buddy.  They run an efficient, ball-control offense and win games with their defense -- they spread the scoring around and rarely put up enough shots to run up the score.  They gave up only 59.6 ppg defensively last season, so they don't need 6 players in double figures.  The year the Hoyas went to the Final Four, they only had 3 players averaging double-figures, with Jeff Green (the #5 pick in the NBA draft) leading the way with only 14.3 ppg.

The Hoyas may be rebuilding a bit and perhaps somewhat overrated, but that doesn't mean that they're not better than Clemson.

Since: Oct 19, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2008 1:48 pm

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)

You are crazy.  The Big East is clearly better than the ACC.  If they had a challenge, the Big East would win about 8 of the 12 games this year because none of the teams in the bottom half of the ACC are good enough to beat teams 6-12 in the Big East.  Georgia Tech's program has fallen apart.  Virginia is very weak.  Florida State is poorly coached and never does anything special.  Boston College is a 1-man team.  Maryland has no post players that are any good.  NC State did less with more last year - we'll see about them.  Bottom line is the ACC bottom feeders aren't very good & they'd be matched up against NCAA tourney-caliber teams like Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia. 

Since: Oct 12, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2008 1:44 pm

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)

UNC/UL: UNC (with ease)

UConn/Duke: UConn (though the Huskies have a tendency to drop games they should win)

ND/Miami: ND (a closer game than you’d think)

Pitt/WF: Pitt (pretty even teams in terms of talent and leadership, but the Panthers have won so many more big games lately)

Marquette/VT: Marquette (And it wouldn’t even be close with the Golden Eagles having 4 starters that score in double figures and a roster made up completely of JRs and SRs)

G’Town/Clemson: Clemson (The Hoyas are overrated with just one projected starter scoring in double figures last season; Clemson has three big time scorers starting this year)

In the end, I agree with Gary, the Big East would win an ACC/Big East challenge in all likelihood.

Since: Oct 16, 2007
Posted on: November 10, 2008 11:54 am

Dear Gary (on the Big East and ACC)

ACC was weak last year and it'll be a little stronger but, still weak this year. Once you get to  the 4th game in this hypothetical challenge, big east teams start blowing out the ACC teams.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or