As Tuesday night's games winded down and Gonzaga was locking up their bid, Twitter was abuzz with bubble talk. Many people speculated on Monmouth, and on St. Mary's, among other mid-major teams. Both of these teams had good seasons, but at the end of the day they may have had work left to do and will have to sweat it out on Sunday. Many people turned their hopes to Joe Lunardi, the ESPN bracketologist, with the hope that he would validate their teams. It's always interesting to see Lunardi's nightly replies. Some people are begging him to see their team on the right side of the bubble, some are arguing about seeds, and others are vehemently explaining in colorful words why a team should not be in the tournament. One tweet last night caught my eye and got me thinking. A Hofstra fan was asking Lunardi if Hofstra would make the tournament, and backed it up with saying that Hofstra had played strong in the "9th best conference".
This caught my eye, because simply put, we don't have this problem. Not that Xavier is close to the bubble (which we're all thankful for), but Xavier does not have to justify the strength of their conference. Quick, start ranking the conferences out loud. Big 12 comes first for a lot of people, then probably the ACC, followed by the Big East and the Big 10. How long did it take to get to the CAA? It just might just be the 9th best and toughest conference, but it takes an awfully long time to get there. Now where did the Atlantic 10 come into that? 7th maybe? 8th? Currently, Lundardi has four A10 teams making the dance, and three of them are on the bubble. That's right, there's a small chance that the A10 is a one bid league this season.
Meanwhile, our conference is looking at 50% of the teams making it with teams competing for the top seeds. For many Xavier fans, myself included, it is still hard to get used to playing in a power conference in regards to the tournament. For years, Xavier had to win the A10 tournament or the regular season to make the tournament, and often times outsiders questioned our resume. Now, with the Big East we really do not have that problem at all. Despite ESPN's apparent bias against the conference, the Big East is widely respected and this matters come tournament time.
There are plenty of ways that I feel grateful for the Big East, but now that it's March I feel especially grateful. The Big East tournament is possibly the greatest conference tournament in the most sacred venue for basketball. Starting tonight, we will have four days of top basketball to be thankful for, and never once will we have to justify our conference schedule to the selection committee.