It is just past 10:30 p.m. ET on the first Saturday of the NCAA Tournament. The Big East, ostensibly one of the power conferences in the sport, has been eliminated.
Purdue just beat Villanova like a drum, 87-61. The defending national champions never really challenged much at any point.
With the Villanova loss, the Big East’s tournament as a whole is over. A loss sets the conference’s record in at 1-4 for the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Villanova, the No. 6 seed in the South Region, squeaked by No. 11 Saint Mary’s in the first round, 61-57. That is the sole win.
No. 11 St. John’s failed to make the Round of 64, falling to Arizona State in the First Four, 74-65. In that same West Region, No. 5 Marquette was one of the few first round upsets, dominated by Ja Morant and Murray State, 83-64. In the Midwest, No. 10 Seton Hall dropped to No. 7 Wofford, 84-68.
The conference’s score differential was -66 through those five games.
Big East Tournament update pic.twitter.com/IuR4dMFXR5
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) March 24, 2019
Since the major round of conference realignment, the Big East has mostly acquitted itself well enough in college basketball.
However, most of that is thanks to one team: Villanova.
Jay Wright reversed a growing stigma as a team that chokes in March, winning the school’s first two national championships since 1985, and vaulting the program up a few wfull tiers in the national landscape.
This always had the look of a rebuild after Nova captured the 2018 title, but their struggles tonight help reveal the struggles of the rest of the league.
Since the league split, with Louisville, Pitt, and Syracuse going to the ACC, Rutgers going to the Big Ten, West Virginia leaving for the Big 12, and the remaining Big East schools splitting along football lines with the formation of the AAC, Villanova has carried most of the weight for the league.
Here are the teams’ NCAA Tournament records since the beginning of the current Big East in 2014.
Even with two national title runs from Villanova, that is a total record of 32-30. That’s rough.