Time to make way for the big boys

March, 12, 2009
NEW YORK -- As the fans filed out into the night and a marathon day in New York ended, here's what we can say we know for sure: The Big East is indeed a tough, deep and talented league … but there is a Mendoza Line.

It falls somewhere right under Providence.

The league extended an invite to all 16 member schools this season, a kindly gesture of inclusiveness in a world built on cutthroat competitiveness. In the end, though, what did it achieve? I guess it's the basketball version of the tree-falling-in-the-forest question: If South Florida, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Georgetown play on a Tuesday when almost no one is here to see it, were they really here?

OK, DePaul winning a game was surprising. Georgetown's implosion caused a bit of a twitter, but there was no manic upset. No team is going to come close to winning five games in five days. The next Big East champion will come from one of the top eight seeds, just as it did last year.

Everyone else? Thanks for your time. Enjoy the NIT, collegeinsider.com tournament or your Barcalounger -- now please step aside. The big boys are ready for their stage. Enter Louisville, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Villanova.

The real Big East tourney begins Thursday at noon.

Dana O'Neil | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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