Before getting into the Michigan State preview later today, I feel like there needs to be a final word on yesterday's overrated/underrated debate. First off, I owe Big East fans in general and Syracuse fans specifically an apology. I based my opinion of Syracuse too much on the one LeMoyne game and on teams like North Carolina, Florida, and Cal faltering. The LeMoyne loss still bothers me some because no major conference team should ever lose to a Division II team. To me, a major conference basketball team has so many advantages in talent, film study, coaching, training, facilities, etc that it should never, under any circumstances, lose to a division II team. To be fair, I feel the same way about a BCS conference football team losing to a 1-AA team, something that has happened all too often to the Big Ten since 2006.
That said, the Syracuse fans that came over here and coherently argued the case for the Orange impressed me. The Orange is clearly a team that took that loss and learned from it. Thanks to Syracuse fans, I got a better idea of their entire body of work. I originally said they were still a very, very good team, but not worthy of their ranking. In that, I was wrong. If I am going to argue earlier in the season that Purdue should be higher because they have beaten everyone they have played and cannot control what others on their schedule do, then I must logically carry that argument over to teams like Syracuse who have only one loss. Yes, it was a loss at home, but we have no room to talk after losing to a similar team at home in Ohio State.
Part of what makes me stand out (at least I hope) as a blogger is that I am willing to admit when I am wrong. I respect solid arguments backed up by stats more than raw, attacking opinion (i.e. Purdon't couldn't even compete with the last place Big East teams because the Big Ten is worse than the WAC and you are an idiot who writes at a fifth grade level). I will admit in this case I was wrong about Syracuse. I respect and thank the Orange fans that came over here to politely express their opinion and sway me to your cause. It is my hope that you will take a look at Purdue tonight, in what will be a very tough road game, and respect us as well. I think we have earned some respect to this point despite our stumbles. Of course, with my cockiness I am sure I have doomed the guys to a bad loss tonight.
(Sidebar: Even mentioning Purdon't is a good way to get you totally ignored by this community. It is not original and we have heard it thousands of times. Come up with something new, please!)
I feel the same about Villanova, in terms of no longer being overrated, after the Wildcats earned an impressive win last night. It is a win that both helps and hurts Purdue. It helps because it should move West Virginia behind the Boilers where they should belong based on the January 1 result, but it hurts because it does not raise the overall profile of West Virginia, our best win.
As far as my view of Purdue (which I never did mention last night) I think we are somewhat overrated, honestly. There is little question we're a good team that can compete (I said compete, not beat) with anyone. We're also more than capable of having a crap-the-bed loss. Wisconsin is not a bad loss, and if we hit free throws at our normal clip the endgame there is different. We choked against Ohio State and at Northwestern we lost because we made the conscious decision to not rebound. #6 teams in the country do not do this, so we do not deserve this ranking.
Once again, I apologize to the Syracuse fans out there. You guys have been great (except those that chose to personally insult me and those that e-mailed me telling me to "take down your "Big Dog" poster from your parents (I mean your) basement and look at reality." In terms of number of teams, The Big East will always be a better conference (interms of number of good teams) because of sheer volume. 16 is a bigger number than 11. When you factor in a "bottom 4" of teams that are not that good, that still makes it 12 to 7 in favor of the Big East. In can be harder to judge the Big East because there are not as many head-to-head matchups as there are in the Big Ten, but there is also the different style of basketball that is played. What makes March so fun is seeing those styles against each other one-on-one. The team that adapts first is the one that will win, so it pays to be versatile.
To wrap this up, let's just be civil to each other. I made a mistake, as I should know that a 2-3 zone is deadly when properly executed. Basil Mawbey is to Indiana High school basketball what Jim Boeheim is to major college basketball because of their 2-3 zone. Coach Mawbey was my high school coach and he has nearly 700 career wins and two state titles, so that is high of a praise I can manage.
Of course, there is only one way to settle this: Next weekend Big Ten/Big East baseball challenge in the Tampa Bay area. Which conference will be more than a mid-major?