Big East is Thursday's biggest loser

Matt Norlander

With all the positive energy surrounding Thursday's tournament action, there is one negative storyline that's already gotten plenty of play: man, did the Big East stink.

The conference that sent more teams (eight) to the dance than any other this year already has nearly half of its participants back at home. And this is a conference that isn't used to futility in the first two days of play. Last season it sent two teams to the Final Four and that was (still is?) considered to be a possibility in 2010.

In fact, if Villanova had failed to eke out a win over No. 15 Robert Morris, the conference would've gone 0-4 Thursday. That would've been a near-Armageddon for East Coast honks that prop up (often rightfully) just how good this mega conference is.

No doubt you've seen the wreckage from Thursday, but we're going to reiterate that there were two close losses by Notre Dame (one point) and Marquette (three points). Either of those games could've gone either way, but regardless, they were offset by the bad taste that was left in our mouths by Georgetown, which got absolutely handled by Ohio in what had to be the day's biggest shocker, right?

The Big East is poised (if you want to use that word) to have a better day Friday, as it has top-seeded Syracuse, No. 2 West Virginia and No.3 Pittsburgh playing, along with Louisville, which is favored to beat Cal.

Our reaction? Yesterday was a beautiful napalming, and the Big East got caught up in it. Doubting it'll have more than one team lose today, and the real litmus test will come with how many teams reach the Sweet 16. If that numbers four, we'll all forget about how it performed Thursday because of its ability to send 50 percent of its participants to the second weekend.

Marquette and Notre Dame no doubt lost sleep Thursday night, but at least both of their games were competitive, compelling television. Washington and Old Dominion were worthy foes that many a bracketeer had moving on.

But Georgetown's performance was a real shocker. Ohio was hitting practically everything in the first half, but where was the defense? The tournament has a way of undressing teams down to what they really are; it's hard to fake it come March. And the truth is, Georgetown was inconsistent all season, often putting up abysmal efforts days after looking like a Final Four team. This was no different.