After the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament, which ended today, we learned that the Big 10 is a darn good conference. The Big 10 leads all conferences with 3 teams in the Sweet 16; including Purdue, which is missing Robbie Hummel, and Michigan State, who lost Kalin Lucas for the rest of the season halfway through the Maryland game today. The Big 10 is not a second tier conference below conferences like the Big East and Big XII anymore.
We learned that the Big East is not as good as we originally thought. Although I have been pushing the power of the conference all year, I must admit that the Big East teams’ performance in the NCAA tournament has been less than impressive at times. All that remains from the Big East are the top two teams, Syracuse and West Virginia. However, with 2 teams remaining, the Big East is tied with the Big XII and SEC for 2nd in that catagory, trailing only the Big 10. The conference still has power at the top, and both these teams have the opportunity to advance to the National Championship. However, the Big East is not by far the best conference in basketball as was proposed throughout the season. Instead, conferences like the Big 10 and Big XII are very comparable to the Big East.
We learned that the Mountain West was overrated. The conference went a combined 2-4 in the tournament, and advanced zero teams to the Sweet 16. Considering that the Pac 10 and A-10 were ranked behind the Mountain West in RPI before the NCAA tournament, and both these conferences have a team in the Sweet 16 and better overall records in the tournament, the Mountain West is a conference which was overrated by national pundits this season.
We learned that nothing is a sure thing. Between the upsets of Kansas, Villanova, and Georgetown (in the first round), people have lost their final four teams and their national champions in their brackets. And who pulled these upsets? Northern Iowa, Saint Mary’s, and Ohio, respectively. The success of small conference teams like these, as well as Cornell, has been admirable and has made for some very exciting and unexpected upsets.
Finally, we learned that Cornell is a really good team. The ability for Cornell to perform so well offensively against 2 great defensive teams in Temple and Wisconsin is scary for #1 seed Kentucky, who the Big Red will face in the Regional Semifinal.