Tag:Big East
Posted on: May 24, 2011 4:35 pm

Big East on verge of 17-team tournament?

Posted by Brett McMurphy, CBSSports.com Senior Writer

PONTE VERDA BEACH, Fla. – The Big East Conference men's basketball coaches voted Tuesday to allow all 17 teams to compete in the league’s tournament starting in 2012. 

The coaches’ recommendations at the league’s spring meetings still must be approved by the athletic directors and then voted on by the league’s presidents before becoming official.

With TCU joining the league for the 2012-13 school year, the basketball membership will grow from 16 to 17 teams. There was some thought that the league might opt to only allow the top 12 teams to play in Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament. That’s how the tournament was restructured from 2006-08 until the league allowed all 16 teams to advance to New York beginning with the 2009 tournament.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun said if he was the Big East's commissioner he would want a 12-team tournament, but as a coach he preferred all 17 teams playing in the tournament.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Big East
Posted on: May 24, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 10:55 am

Calhoun believes a Big East split is coming

Posted by Brett McMurphy, CBSSports.com Senior Writer

PONTA VERDA BEACH, Fla. -- UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun admits he likely won’t be coaching when it happens, but he still sees it coming. And it can’t be stopped.

Rapture? The end of the world? Not quite, but the end of the Big East Conference as we know it now.

“My own personal opinion -- and I won't probably see this -- in the next couple of years, four or five years down the road, I think you'll see a separation [of the football and non-football membership],” Calhoun said. “I think it's inevitable.”

The Big East currently has 16 members, including eight football members. Next season with the addition of TCU, that number inflates to 17 all-sport members and nine football members.

That number could increase even more in the next couple of years with the Big East looking to expand its football membership by as many as three teams, which conceivably could result in a behemoth 20 member conference, including 12 football members.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto has said the Big East’s 16-team basketball league could evolve into 20-teams, split into four pods of five teams or two 10-team divisions.

“If you go to 18 [members], oh boy,” Calhoun said. “We're talking about going to 17 [now and that] creates enough different issues.”

A split of the football and non-football schools has been speculated for some time, but league sources feel that would happen as only a last resort.

Calhoun, 68, said if the league split, the eight basketball members – DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova – would pursue some additional teams from the Atlantic 10, such as Xavier and Dayton.

“That’s what I think could happen,” Calhoun said.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: May 19, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2011 2:21 pm

Big East-SEC series has some sizzle

Posted by Matt Norlander

This is beginning to feel like waiting for your favorite bands to release tour dates, right? Today we've got more made-for-TV (well, most major college basketball is made for TV, but you get what I'm saying) inter-conference basketball to release to you. While the Big Ten/ACC Challenge leaves a lot to be desired, the first Big East/SEC Challenge has quite a few interesting games. Like the former, the latter will be put on and broadcast by ESPN. It'll be a three-day ordeal, with all 12 SEC teams playing against a select group of Big East schools.

This Challenge is buttressed by the SEC-Big East Invitational, which was more selective, not fully endorsed by ESPN and played sporadically in the non-conference season. No more. Now: bragging rights definitively on the line.

And, no, the top 12 from last year's Big East standings didn't get first dibs. Those who got clipped: Notre Dame, Marquette, South Florida and Villanova. Somewhat surprising omissions, I suppose. You want the history with these teams, including records and all the nuggets that make looking ahead to this stuff so much fun? We've got you covered, absolutely.

Here's the slate:

Date Game
Thu, Dec 1 St. John’s at Kentucky
  Georgetown at Alabama
  Providence at South Carolina
  Mississippi at DePaul
Fri, Dec 2 Vanderbilt at Louisville
  Florida at Syracuse
  Cincinnati at Georgia
  Auburn at Seton Hall
Sat, Dec 3 Arkansas at Connecticut
  Pittsburgh at Tennessee
  West Virginia at Mississippi State
  LSU at Rutgers

A very nice lineup. I can genuinely say I'm looking forward to six of the 12 games, which is a fantastic batting average. Vanderbilt at Louisville probably piques my interest more than any other, but Florida-Syracuse, Georgetown-Alabama, Arkansas-Connecticut (Arkansas could win that game, absolutely), Pittsburgh-Tennessee and St. John's-Kentucky at least get my brain excited.

There are duds, to be sure, but by the time these games are played -- nearly a month into the season -- you know how it goes: some teams could be much better or worse than expected.

Courtesy of ESPN, some notable things about the games
  • Florida is undefeated in the Carrier Dome -- only all of its previous games there were in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse leads the all-time series over Florida 3-1.
  • Vanderbilt and Louisville -- despite being only 174 miles apart -- will play for the first time in 17 years
  • Three of the matchups will be the first meeting between the programs: Cincinnati at Georgia, LSU at Rutgers and Auburn at Seton Hall.
  • Remember Pittsburgh-Tennessee from last season? The Vols won, 83-76.
Set your calendars accordingly. Step by step, next season takes shape more and more.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Big East, SEC
Posted on: March 5, 2011 4:32 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 4:41 pm

Bearcats find an extra gear in season finale

Cincinnati held the Hoyas under 50 points in each meeting this season

Posted by Eric Angevine

Cincinnati is one of those teams that nobody really expects much from, even though Jerry Palm had them listed as a 6 seed in the NCAA bracket predictions this morning. Despite a 10-7 record in the tough Big East, the Bearcats carry the 'soft' tag because of their admittedly weak non-conference schedule, during which they faced exactly one team that is currently a lock for the Big Dance - intra-city rival Xavier, who they beat 66-46.

The Bearcats have held five opponents below 50 points this season, but only the Hoyas have fallen victim to that embarassment twice. Cincy did it to Georgetown in DC on February 23, winning 58-46, then proved that result was no fluke by running the Hoyas off the floor at Fifth Third Arena today, laying down a lopsided 69-47 win.

That the Bearcats can defend should come as no shock to anyone. Per kenpom.com, Cincy is 12th in the nation in defensive efficiency, second in the Big East to only Louisville. Once they shut Georgetown down, however, the offense came alive, putting up 39 points in the second half. The combination of Yancy Gates inside (13 points, 10-10 FT) and Dion Dixon outside (14 points, 2-5 from deep, 6-8 FT) became lethally efficient.

Did the Bearcats benefit from the absence of Chris Wright? Yes. Was their non-conference schedule too lenient? Absolutely. But Chris Mack's squad beat the teams they were supposed to beat, and won a few in which they seemed overmatched. They've found their rhythm, with the starters locked in on their roles night after night, and Sean Kilpatrick coming off the bench to ever-more-positive results. The redshirt freshman scored a hyper-efficient 13 points in 24 minutes.

Cincy has earned a first-round bye in the Big East tournament with today's win. The team owns victories over St. John's and Louisville, and a sweep of Georgetown. If the Bearcats continue to lock down on defense, and get the ball inside from every position, they could be the dangerous team that nobody will enjoy playing in the postseason.

Photo: US Presswire
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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 18, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: February 18, 2011 10:07 am

Is Pitt's Ashton Gibbs underrated?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Sports fans love to engage in debate, and we're no different here at CBS blog central. Player of the Year arguments, along with bracket discussions, are always the best barroom (or national podcast) fodder for college hoops fans. I touched on one yesterday when I considered Ben Hansbrough vs. Kemba Walker in the Big East. That post touched off a bit of a Twitter debate (which can be hard to follow as the posts whiz by) about a couple of other candidates, most notably Pitt's Ashton Gibbs (right).

We learned last night that Gibbs will be back from a short injury time out in time for Saturday's trip to Madison Square Garden, where the Panthers will face a St. John's team that is on the rise. It seems as good a time as any to see how he stacks up against his fellow Big East stars.

Here are a couple of tweets, from @bracks7, that encapsulate the frustration some fans feel when Gibbs is overlooked in the media.

@stfhoops Is it the fact #Pitt has more options that #Gibbs is really left of BE POY? #Hansbrough really better than him?

@stfhoops I mean I saw a guy on SNY leave him off 1st team All BE. I almost threw something @ the TV!!
Then, New Jersey-based hoops writer Mike Vorkunov, without having seen my post, threw out his own list of BE POY candidates. He listed Hansbrough, Walker, Georgetown's Austin Freeman and Marshon Brooks of Providence as his top four. It got me wondering if bracks7 was right: is Gibbs criminally underrated by us Typing Heads because his team as a whole is so good?

Is Ashton Gibbs overlooked in the Big East?Let's go to the numbers. I'll use Vorkunov's list, plus Gibbs, to get a feel for where each player stands.

Hansbrough 34.7 17.3 3.8 4.1 1.8/1 1.2 46.7 41.4 81.1
Walker 36.9 23.2 5.3 4.7 2.5/1 1.9 43.1 35.6 77.4
Freeman 33.3 18.2 3.4 2.6 1.5/1 0.7 51.7 41.8 85.1
Brooks 35.7 24.3 7.5 2.0 2.0/3 1.7 48.5 32.7 78.1
Gibbs 31.7 16.3 2.3 3.1 1.7/1 0.4 43.6 46.3 89.7

Based on traditional metrics alone, I have to disqualify Brooks. He's an amazing scorer, but he's doing it with volume because he has to. He's his team's runaway MVP, and an exciting player to watch, but he's no league POY. Freeman's fantastic shooting percentages across the board prove his worth to the Hoyas beyond a shadow of a doubt, and make him a solid candidate.

So, Gibbs. I'm trying to avoid confirmation bias here, but I think bracks7 has basically answered his own question. Yes, Gibbs is an extremely valuable part of an elite team. He has scored 18.93 percent of the Panthers' points when he's on the floor, but his teammates Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Nasir Robinson are all above ten percent in the team impact metric as well. This is a good thing.

Unfortunately for Gibbs' case, Pitt chugged right along without him while he was out. Sophomore Travon Woodall certainly didn't replace Gibbs' production, but he kept the machine humming just fine. Again, this is a good thing.

Leaving Gibbs off the All-Big East first team seems like a mistake, but I don't know who the unnamed SNY pundit chose in his place, so I can't really judge that. As a potential Big East POY, however, I don't think Gibbs has enough of a case. He's a great player on a great team, and yes, he may be underrated by the media and even fans. But when it comes to what really counts, bracks7 sounds the right note of conciliation in his final tweet on the matter:

I guess the last laugh will be Gibbs will be the only 1 playing in the Final 4
If he's right about that, I'm pretty sure Gibbs will enjoy a trip to Houston a great deal more than any old league trophy.
Posted on: February 17, 2011 10:10 am

Hansbrough vs. Walker for Big East POY

Ben Hansbrough a POY candidate? It's not as crazy as it sounds.

Posted by Eric Angevine

When I heard one basketball analyst tout Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough for Big East Player of the Year this week, I was able to dismiss it as one man’s opinion.

Last night, during Cincinnati’s takedown of Louisville, I heard it again, this time from Fran Fraschilla. The former coach knows his business very well, and I always give extra weight to his opinions, because I think he considers his words carefully and backs them with a lifetime’s experience in the game.

So, it’s officially a trend. Let’s look at Ben Hansbrough’s bona fides, because they will have to be pretty good to overcome Kemba Walker’s push to be national POY, let alone lord of the Big East. Here are the traditional metrics by which such things are measured.

Hansbrough 34.7 17.3 3.8 4.1 1.8/1 1.2 46.7 41.4 81.1
Walker 36.9 23.2 5.3 4.7 2.5/1 1.9 43.1 35.6 77.4

Looking at these numbers, Walker pretty clearly comes out ahead, which should come as a surprise to nobody who's watched him dominate games. Where some possible cracks start to show is in those last three percentage-based numbers, which belong to Hansbrough. They point to a possible lack of efficiency (in everything but passing) that could come from Walker's sheer volume of minutes played with a less experienced supporting cast than what Hansbrough has to draw on.

So, let's go tempo-free, courtesy of Basketball State, and see how these two warriors match up in efficiency-based metrics. We're looking at points per 40 minutes (P/40), points per weighted shot (PPWS), effective field goal percentage (eFG), usage rate (URt), efficiency per possession (Eff/Pos), and what percentage of his team's points each player scores (Impact). Explanations of these stats can be found in BBState's stats primer

Player P/40 PPWS eFG URt RebRt AstRt StlRt Eff/Pos Impact
Hansbrough 20.0 1.24 56.8 43.3 7.0 55.4 2.1 0.292 22.90
Walker 25.1 1.08 48.9 57.6 8.5 69.3 3.0 0.334 31.18

For me, this is kind of like the use of instant replay in the NFL. I came in here with Kemba Walker ahead by virtue of the eyeball test, and I see nothing here to overturn the verdict of my peepers. I will, however, have to admit that it's not a runaway performance by Walker, and that Hansbrough's numbers hold up pretty well. It's not ridiculous to include him in the discussion at all, especially since Notre Dame (10-3) is winning league games more consistently than UConn (8-5). When the two played head-to-head in South Bend on January 4, Walker scored 19 and Hansbrough had 21 in a close win for the Irish. It's worth mentioning that Walker shot 23 times and only made 8 with Hansbrough hounding him on defense in that early conference matchup.

For now, my vote's still with Kemba in the Big East. Ben Hansbrough still has a couple of weeks left -- including a huge season-ending trip to Connecticut on March 5 -- to change my mind.
Posted on: February 2, 2011 10:17 pm

Villanova only team that can challenge Pittsburgh

Posted by MATT JONES

With half of its season now completed, the Big East conference race is a muddled mess. Pittsburgh stands alone at the top, with an 8-1 conference record and a commanding two-game lead over its nearest competitors. But after that, the conference looks like a wide-open free for all, with nine teams bunched behind with either three or four losses.  Thus it could be seen as an unpredictable race, with 8-10 potential winners. But upon closer inspection there is only one likely contender that can stop a Pittsburgh Big East coronation.

Not only does Pittsburgh have a two-game cushion, it is also the beneficiary of what could be classified as an easy (at least by Big East standards) second half of the schedule. The Panthers only play three games against ranked opponents, instead facing South Florida and West Virginia twice, and Cincinnati and St. John's one time a piece. Whereas UCONN, Syracuse, Georgetown and Villanova have all gone through mini-losing streaks due to rough patches with multiple consecutive games against Top 20 teams on their schedules, Pittsburgh will avoid most of the toughest opponents down the stretch, making it difficult to forsee them giving many games back to the pack.

But the one team that Pittsburgh does have to deal with twice is Villanova, which got back on track Wednesday night with a 75-70 home victory over Marquette. The Wildcats found strong play once again from their big man tandem, Mouphtaou Yarou and Antonio Pena, who combined for 32 points and 17 rebounds to help spark an end to the team's recent four game malaise. Corey Fisher added 17 in the victory as Villanova built up a 14 point second half lead and withheld a late Marquette run for the victory.

The win ends the most difficult stretch of the Villanova schedule with a 2-3 record, as Jay Wright's club paired wins over Syracuse and the Golden Eagles with losses to UCONN and Georgetown and an embarrassing 15 point defeat at Providence. However even with those bumps in the road, Villanova finds itself as the only real team with a shot to knock off Pittsburgh for the conference title. The Wildcats have upcoming games against conference doormats Rutgers, Seton Hall and Depaul over the next three weeks, while also hosting winnable games against West Virginia, St. John's and Syracuse at home.

Most importantly however, Villanova still has a crucial home and home series with Pittsburgh yet to come.  Amongst the top contenders in the Big East, that gives the Wildcats a chance to add two losses to Pittsburgh's total, something the other contenders without Pittsburgh on their schedule cannot accomplish. Winning the Big East will likely take a sweep of the two-game series by Villanova, but unlike with the rest of the teams in conference, at least Villanova's best punch at the conference leader is ahead, rather than already passed by.

Jay Wright expressed disappointment in the play of his team last week and he surely can't be pleased with the slow finish against Marquette that allowed the Golden Eagles to make the game competitive late. But in a tightly-packed Big East, where the margin of error between second and tenth place in the conference is woefully small, Villanova is the only team with a schedule suited to presenting Jamie Dixon's team a challenge. Pittsburgh's current two-game lead is significant and its only real hurdle to the title is the two-game Villanova swing. The Big East Championship likely will hang in the balance.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com