On Sunday the NCAA Selection Committee picked the 68 schools to play in the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament with the Final Four being held at Reliant Stadium in Houston. 

The big news in the selections were as always the teams that were left out or teams that made it that didn’t deserve it and there are a number in these categories.  Among the teams being bashed for their selection by the committee are Southern Cal; UAB; Penn State; Marquette and Clemson.  While teams like St. Mary’s and Colorado were left out.

Big East ConferenceOthers are chirping about the seedings. Why is Florida a #2 seed when Kentucky a #4 seed beat them twice?  Why is Texas a #4 seed?

But to me the biggest thing is that the NCAA took eleven teams from the Big East, clearly the beast of the college basketball world.  I’d put the top four Big East teams up against the top four teams from all the other conferences any day.  Supposed powerhouse conferences like the ACC had four teams picked as did the lowly Pac-10. While the Big Ten put in seven teams, the SEC has five as does the Big 12.  But other smaller conferences like the A-10 got three bids, the CAA got three as well as did the Mountain West.

Granted their were four more slots to fill this year as the tournament expands from 64 to 68 teams but I think teams like St. Mary’s and Colorado deserved a better shot at making the tourney as opposed to 11 teams from one conference or mid-level teams from mid-major conferences.

As a Big East basketball fan since Day 1 I am proud to say the conference has the most bids ever in a single tournament even if maybe some were border line picks. The Big East has one #1 seed; one #2 seed; two #3 seeds; one #4 seed; one #5 seed; three #6 seeds; one #9 seed and one #11 seed.  In the past the committee has tried to avoid having conference members meet head-to-head in the tournament but this year that went out the window as Connecticut could face Cincinnati in the round of 32 as could Syracuse and Marquette. The Big East has had multiple final four teams 3 times.  In 1985, Villanova and Georgetown played in the title game and St. John’s also made the semi finals; in 1987 Syracuse lost the title game and Providence went down in the semi’s and in 2009 UCONN and Villanova lost in the semi final games.  Since it’s inception in 1979 the Big East has been represented in the Final Four 17 times (last school was WVU in 1010) and has won five National titles with UCONN winning twice and Georgetown, Villanova and Syracuse each winning once.

As a UCONN fan I never thought at Day 1 of the Big East that the team would travel to the heights it’s been with  seven conference tournament titles, three Final Fours and two National Championships.  This league is the best of them all and obviously one school from the conference could in all probability be raising the championship trophy on April 4th. It’d really be something if it was Kemba Walker with his hands on it.

Don’t forget to fill out your bracket and enjoy the games.

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Here is a list via the AP of all 68 schools selected by conference:

America East (1): Boston University

Atlantic Coast (4): Clemson, Duke, Florida State, North Carolina

Atlantic Sun (1): Belmont

Atlantic 10 (3): Richmond, Temple, Xavier

Big East (11): Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia

Big Sky (1): Northern Colorado

Big South (1): UNC Asheville

Big Ten (7): Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

Big 12 (5): Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M

Big West (1): UC Santa Barbara

Colonial Athletic Association (3): George Mason, Old Dominion, Virginia Commonwealth

Conference USA (2): Memphis, UAB

Horizon (1): Butler

Ivy (1): Princeton

Mid-American (1): Akron

MEAC (1): Hampton

Missouri Valley (1): Indiana State

Mountain West (3): BYU, San Diego State, UNLV

Northeast (1): Long Island University

Ohio Valley (1): Morehead State

Pacific-10 (4): Arizona, Southern Cal, UCLA, Washington

Patriot (1): Bucknell

Southeastern (5): Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

Southern (1): Wofford

Southland (1): Texas-San Antonio

SWAC (1): Alabama State

Summit (1): Oakland (Mich.)

Sun Belt (1): Arkansas-Little Rock

West Coast (1): Gonzaga

Western Athletic (1): Utah State

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