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Ranking the Top Conferences in College Basketball 5

Posted on March 04, 2011 by Ray Thompson

Ben Hansbrough and Notre Dame is just one of the teams that makes the Big East the strongest conference in college basketball.

Welcome to Part II of my ranking of the top conferences in Division I college basketball, just in time for the start of the conference tournaments.

Illustrating the volatility of the 2010-11 season, this past weekend, #1 Duke falls to Virginia Tech, who a few days later loses to Boston College, a team on the bubble hoping for an at large bid, pushing Ohio state into the #1 spot in both polls.

BYU suspends one of its marquis players, Brandon Davies, for violating the schools honor code, and they go from Dance Darling to big question mark.  Ranked #3 after beating San Diego state last weekend, BYU, in its first game without Davies in the line-up, is upset by New Mexico losing by a margin of 18 points.  Is this a momentary lapse by a team that has been dominant all season or is Davies that much of an impact player that it changes the dynamics of that team significantly?  Only time will tell.  That is an amazing kick off to the month of March and is why this season is like no other.

With that said, here are my Top 5 Conferences:

Top Conference #5: The Atlantic Coast Conference
No conference represents the volatility of this season quite like the ACC.  This is a conference that at one time looked as though it could send as many as 6 or 7 teams to the tournament and now may be lucky to send 4.  The ACC conference has only two teams in the top 25 in Duke (starting the weekend ranked number 1 and now ranked #4) and North Carolina outside the top ten at #13 with a chance finish tops in the ACC with one more win.  This is a very competitive conference with Florida State and Virginia Tech likely heading to the dance but also includes teams like Boston College, Maryland, Miami, and Clemson who currently find themselves on the outside looking in.  Duke is likely the 2 seed in the East, North Carolina the three seed out of the West, with Florida State the 10 seed and Virginia Tech the 8 seed both coming out of the southeast bracket.  These four teams are a combined 8-9 against ranked opponents with Duke carrying 4 of those wins. So while this conference may only send 4 teams, they will be battle tested teams coming out of a strong conference. Read the rest of this entry →

A Look at Big East Basketball, Then and Now 4

Posted on February 19, 2011 by Ray Thompson

A young Lou Carnesecca coaching Chris Mullin at St. Johns.

In 1985, The Big East conference dominated the national rankings and the NCAA tournament, sending 3 teams to the final four (Georgetown, Villanova, and St. Johns) with two of those teams vying for the national championship.

Georgetown and Villanova played one of the greatest finals games in history and to this day this game is considered one of the biggest upsets in college basketball. A game in which a heavily favored Georgetown team, coached by John Thompson, and lead by a dominant Patrick Ewing lost to underdog Villanova, a team coached by Rollie Massimino and featured Ed Pinckney winning the MVP as Villanova won the tournament in stunning fashion by a margin of two points.

The Big East was special that year for the amazing amount of talent that was in the conference combined with a crop of energetic coaches, in the prime or in the early years of their respective careers, matching wits in what was at the time the best college basketball conference.

Three time Big East player of the year Chris Mullin played on that St. John’s team coached by Lou Carnesecca (remember those sweaters), A young Gary Williams was coaching a solid BC team featuring Michael Adams in the backcourt, and Syracuse had a great team that year featuring Dwayne “Pearl” Washington and Rony Seikaly coached by one of the greatest basketball coaches in history, Jim Boeheim. These players are now legends, many of whom went on to NBA careers. It was their journey through the Big East conference, the elite conference in the nation in 1984 – 1985, that helped make them the great players they would become.

Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Bill Freehan: Michigan Man
      May 12, 2018 | 6:21 pm

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was an 11-time American League All-Star at one of the most demanding positions in baseball, yet outside of Detroit his exploits have been largely forgotten.

      For more than a decade, Bill Freehan was the rock behind home plate for the Detroit Tigers. In addition to earning All-Star honors 10 straight years and 11 times overall, Freehan was a five-time Gold Glove winner and in 1968 finished second in the American League in the MVP voting.

      A true “Michigan Man”, Freehan played his entire sports career representing teams from Michigan.

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