On Saturday Georgetown claimed the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament. Here is a look at the best 10 teams from the founding of the Big East from 1979 through this year’s divorce that led to seven Catholic schools carrying forward the Big East banner while others went to the ACC, Big Ten and a new conference likely called the American 12.
10. 1986-1987 Syracuse Orangemen. If not for Keith Smart, Jim Boeheim would have joined John Thompson and Rollie Massimino as Big East National champions. But his 1987 team was darn good.
9. 1984-1985 St. John’s Redmen. If not for the Hoyas, this team might have won a national title. Led by Mullins and Wennington, they were a dominant team most of the year, falling in the Final Four.
8. 1987-1988 Seton Hall Pirates. PJ Carlesimo was THISCLOSE to winning the National title, with a spirited OT title fight against Rumeal Robinson and Michigan. Terry Dehere was the legend that powered this team.
7. 1984-1985 Villanova Wildcats. The Wildcats were not even the third best team in their conference that year. They did not come close to either the regular season or tourney titles. Georgetown had beaten them three times (!) and St. John’s was better also. But this was the year that made March Mad, and a flawed team led by a hot superstar (Ed Pinkney) gave Rollie his first and only title.
6. 1984-1985 Georgetown Hoyas. Though upset by a game Villanova team in the NCAA final, this team was as dominant as any in that decade. Led by Patrick Ewing and Reggie Williams, they captured the regular season (co-champ) and tournament titles, falling in the NCAA title game. They were ranked #1 in the final AP poll regardless.
5. 2010-2011 Connecticut Huskies. They had lost 4 of 5 going into the Big East Tournament. They then went on an unprecedented streak of 10 straight postseason games, getting some luck by having to face a winded Butler team in the final. A plucky team gave Jim Calhoun his swan song.
4. 2002-2003 Syracuse Orange. Though unranked to start the season and starting two freshmen, the Orange won the regular season title and the NCAA title in one of the great all-time runs.
3. 2003-2004 Connecticut Huskies. Calhoun’s second title was courtesy of Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor. They were regular season, tournament, and NCAA tournament champions, squeaking by Duke and an overperforming Georgia Tech team in the title game.
2. 1989-1999 Connecticut Huskies. Jim Calhoun’s first title came courtesy of Rip Hamilton. They won the regular season, tournament, and NCAA titles, defeating a favored Duke team to do it.
1. 1983-1984 Georgetown Hoyas. A loaded Georgetown team won the regular season, tournament, and NCAA titles. They barely budged off of the top 3 all season, and dominated a tough Phi Slamma Jamma Houston team in the championship game.
Next topic: Top 10 championship comebacks.