Thanksgiving came a day early for Fox Sports 1 when the Big East moved up to fourth in the ranking of conferences with a stunning trio of upsets. After Fox Sports 1 made a half-billion dollar investment in the Big East made up of the “Catholic 7,” ESPN used a Catholic term to declare the conference dead by releasing Requiem for the Big East, but Wednesday’s stunning upsets of Florida, Minnesota, and UNC have the Big East surging into the rankings for the top conferences (see below).
Except for Marquette and DePaul, the Big East is now 35-0 after St. John’s upset Minnesota (Big Ten), Georgetown upset Florida (SEC), and Butler shocked UNC (ACC) Wednesday to move the conference ahead of conferences in which ESPN has invested billions.
The Fox Sports 1 play to break into the New York sports market included the purchase of the Big East and Yankees TV rights, while ESPN has gone after the Big East brand much as they have attacked the Redskins brand with a steady campaign.
The Big East was made up of the “Catholic 7” schools that broke away from football members of the conference last year and signed with the new Fox Sports 1, but struggled in its initial NCAA tournament and started this year ranked as the sixth best conference based on www.valueaddbasketball.com as reported by Breitbart. However, with every team except Marquette and DePaul undefeated entering the holiday weekend, the conference passed the Pac-12 and SEC in the rankings released below.
Wins to date have included tournament-bound teams with Butler stunning UNC, Georgetown over Florida, Creighton over Oklahoma, St. John’s over Minnesota, Providence over Notre Dame, and Villanova beating both VCU and Michigan to put Fox Sports 1’s station in the top four with the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten.
Conference Rankings (4th through 1st)
The ratings below indicate which teams in each conference are substantially above or below their preseason Value Add ranking (see separate post in which each team’s season to date is rated from a “10” for far exceeding expectations to a “0” for falling far short).
Big East (improves from 6th to 4th rank)
Kris Dunn’s emergence at Providence gives the Big East seven teams that would make the NCAA tournament based on the www.kenpom.com ratings. Butler and Creighton have played well above expectations to join Georgetown, Villanova, Providence, St. John’s and Xavier in the top 50 in those ratings. Seton Hall is a near miss, while DePaul and a disappointing Marquette are not in the top 100. Typically a team must be in the top 50 to make the NCAA tournament.
Above Expectations (4 teams): 42. Butler, 44. Creighton, 27. Georgetown, 7. Villanova.
Disappointments (1): 122. Marquette.
Other Tourney Teams (3): 34. Providence, 46. St. John’s, 36. Xavier.
Big 12 (falls from 2nd to 3rd)
Above Expectations (2): 22. Oklahoma, 21. Oklahoma St.
Disappointments (4): 19. Baylor, 28. Iowa St., 41. Kansas St., 10. Kansas.
Other Tourney Teams (2): 9. Texas, 33. West Virginia.
Even the disappointing teams to date should make the tournament, and Oklahoma’s win over UCLA Wednesday was big. However, K-State getting blown out by Pitt and Kansas’s earlier 70-42 humiliation by Kentucky were part of the conference dropping one spot behind the Big Ten.
Big Ten (From 4th to 2nd)
Above Expectations (6): 20. Maryland, 13. Michigan St., 39. Minnesota, 14. Ohio St., 37. Purdue, 4. Wisconsin.
Disappointments (2): 51. Indiana, 176. Rutgers.
Other Tourney Teams (4): 38. Illinois, 32. Iowa, 16. Michigan, 43. Nebraska.
In the preseason, we thought the Big Ten might have slipped a couple of spots to fourth, but they have blown past the SEC and nudged out the Big 12 to be the second best conference. Wisconsin looks like a title contender, and Maryland has been a welcome addition with a 5-0 start including big wins on neutral court against Arizona State of the Pac-12 and Iowa State of the Big 12. Purdue’s overtime win over BYU Wednesday was also big.
ACC (stays in preseason spot of 1st)
Above Expectations (5): 2. Duke, 89. Georgia Tech, 3. Louisville, 17. Miami FL, 5. Virginia.
Disappointments (6): 133. Boston College, 91. Clemson, 90. Florida St., 26. North Carolina, 57. North Carolina St., 193. Virginia Tech.
Other Tourney Teams (2): 45. Notre Dame, 18. Syracuse.
While UNC and some teams in the middle have been disappointing, it really isn’t that close for best conference. Louisville joins the conference to give them three national contenders, and when you add Miami and Georgia Tech both getting upsets of the SEC (over Florida and Georgia) this could be one of the best conferences ever.
A separate post will list the rankings of all 351 teams and rank the 5th through 14th best conferences.