Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Formula for Success

Georgetown, woe is you. Only a week after being college basketball darlings following their victory over then No. 2 UConn and putting themselves, arguably, in the driver's seat of the Big East conferece race, the Hoyas are now conference
OK, not really. But the Hoyas are a prime example of what to expect the rest of the year in the Big East. Winning their season opener against the Huskies in Hartford put them in a prime spot to win the conference, even though it was only a game in. But then dropping two straight games, one at home, against No. 1 Pitt and No. 13 ND shows how tough this league will be and how temporary any status a team attains will be.
Now, after a hectic first week of league play with every school except for Louisville starting Big East play, here is a how-to guide on winning the best conference in the country. Take note Big East coaches, you'll thank me when you're holding up the trophy in March.

1. Protect home court. This is most important to winning the conference. Protect home court and a team has nine wins on the year. Forecasting how the Big East plays out, 13 wins could very well win the conference. A big advantage in this category goes to Notre Dame. The Irish have won 44 straight in the Joyce Center and 19 straight conference home games. If ND can continue the streak for the entire conference season or just drop even one, that gives them a big leg up.
2. Ice the cupcakes. There are nine teams who can beat anyone on a given night. That means when you're playing any of the other six teams, you better take care of business. Each title contender plays eight games against the "dregs" of the league but Syracuse gets the advantage here as their first four games in-conference are Seton Hall, USF, DePaul and Rutgers. Make it 4-0 to start the schedule and that could give the Orange momentum to take into the tough part of their schedule.
3. Pull off an upset. My old track coach always used to say that to win anything you're going to have to pull off an upset along the way. It seems Iron Hills conference high school track and Big East basketball aren't that different. Although a victory by any of the nine ranked teams shouldn't really be seen as that big of an upset, it would be at least somewhat unexpected. If West Virginia wants to take the league, its going to have to win at Louisville or in the Carrier Dome. The team that can pull off the most upsets will probably end up on top.
4. Keep healthy. This is really self explanatory. The Orange without Johnny Flynn will end up with SU getting crushed. No Greg Monroe and Georgetown could be all bark and no bite. You get the point. This means that the teams with the most depth are the ones with the advantage in case of injury, i.e. Connecticut or Louisville.
5. Get a little help from the schedule makers. Winning is a lot easier when you're not playing the top three teams in the country in a week. So Syracuse having to go to Georgetown, home against ND, then at Pitt is at a disadvantage. Or...actually nevermind. This is the Big East 2009, with nine top 25 teams. There are no easy schedules.

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