The Pulse: February Madness

Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.

Story of the Day: Big Conference

Sometimes bigger is better.

With 16 schools in almost as many states (12) as there were when the country was formed, the new Big East truly lives up to at least the first half of its name. But there was much debate before the season about whether the influx of teams arriving from Conference USA would actually do anything to improve the league's overall image.

Considering 41 percent of SportsNation voters, 10 percent more support than any other conference, now rank it as the top hoops league in the country, it seems like that debate is over.

Good news for the conference, but not necessarily good news for the University of Connecticut. Despite being ranked No. 1 in the nation, the Huskies find a healthy 43 percent of voters picking another team to win the Big East. Leading the opposition charge is West Virginia, which squares off against the Huskies in one week.

Which conference do you think is the best in college basketball this season? (6,983 votes)
41.2% Big East
31.1% Big Ten
16.8% ACC
5.6% Big 12
5.0% SEC

They may still be a popular pick when folks start searching for upset victims in their bracket, but 85% of voters think unheralded A-10 power George Washington will win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament. Vote!

"They have the formula: experience, enough size inside, enough depth, experience playing elite teams. They play in a tougher than advertised league. They're legit."
Rece Davis in chat

Which team will win the Big East? (40,431 votes)
57.2% Connecticut
20.6% West Virginia
12.3% Villanova
5.3% Georgetown
4.3% Other

Eight Big East teams are currently .500 or better in conference. How many teams will make the NCAA Tournament? (3,772 votes)
35.2% Seven
27.2% Eight
25.2% Six or fewer
8.6% Nine
3.6% 10 or more

Which team will win the Big Ten? (8,250 votes)
36.4% Illinois
34.3% Michigan State
12.9% Other
8.5% Michigan
7.6% Iowa

Which is the most valuable duo in college basketball? (16,200 votes)
60.2% J.J. Redick-Shelden Williams, Duke
13.2% Mike Gansey-Kevin Pittsnogle, West Virginia
10.3% Allan Ray-Randy Foye, Villanova
9.9% Adam Morrison-J.P. Batista, Gonzaga
6.1% Maurce Ager-Paul Davis, Michigan State

Voice of the Fan: Big East Showdown
Pittsburgh is a legit Sweet 16 team, and can go farther with the right draw. West Virginia is such an enigma because if they don't hit their 3's, they are done.
Josh (Knoxville, Tenn.)

SportsNation makes Bruce Weber's Illinois team slight favorites in the Big Ten, but where do the Illini rank in the NCAA Tournament scene? Click here to rank the top 16 teams.

"I believe we have an All-American prospect in Dee Brown. In my mind, Dee is the poster child of college basketball. His charisma, energy and speed make him a special player. He has done everything we have asked as a senior leading our team to a great season so far."
Bruce Weber in chat

A tough regular season will have Big East teams prepared for a decent run in March. Pitt could make the Elite Eight; West Virginia could make the Sweet 16, easy, and maybe the Elite Eight.
Brian (Newburyport, Mass.)

Pitt is very young. I love them, but they will be lucky to make the Sweet 16. That experience will help them next year. West Virginia, however, has a lot of experience and could be a very dangerous team in the tourney.
Charles (Pittsburgh)

Anything that includes the word "Pittsnogle" is intriguing.
Cara (New York)

West Virginia is a much tougher tournament team than Pitt. You have to adjust to them; they do not adjust to you. That's what makes them so tough to play against. Pitt has been overachieving in my opinion.
John (Buffalo)

If West Virginia is shooting well, they can beat absolutely anyone. I would be scared to death of them in March.
DC (Altoona, Pa.)

  • Click here for transcript of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie

    SportsNation's Show: Expert Opinion
    Walt (Champaign, Ill.): I'm a huge Hoya fan here in Illini country. If Georgetown can beat the Johnnies tonight and get a big win over West Virginia this weekend, how high a seed can this team get? Would it be unrealistic to think they could go as high as a No. 3 seed?

    Rece Davis: A strong finish could get the Hoyas on that No. 3 line. There's another coach of the year candidate that we need to give some more props to.

    Jason (Texas): Yes or no: North Carolina can go far in the NCAA Tournament? They gave Duke a pretty good run the other night.

    Rece Davis: They can. Hansbrough is a beast. Frasor looks as if he has no intention of letting next year's freshmen take his minutes. I think UNC is rapidly improving. I think a Sweet 16 run isn't out of the question. And that would give ol' Roy some coach of the year ammo.

  • Click here for Davis' chat transcript

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