Posted 03/20/2010 at 11:14 AM
The Big East made a bit of a comeback after a disastrous Thursday. Still a 4-4 performance while playing with the superior seed in every match-up is not something that will allow people to heap praise on to the league. Syracuse, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh had impressive showings while Villanova is still playing as well and ultimately this opening round will be forgotten if one or more of these top teams can make a final four run.
For all the criticism the Pac-10 has taken the conference handled the first round well with two wins, both at the expense of the Big East. The Big XII had a decent showing going 5-2 but also lost two favored teams as Oklahoma State and Texas both lost. Those teams both fell to ACC teams, which quietly went 4-2 in the first round and should still be considered the best league in the land. Duke and Maryland were the only heavy favorites in the group so really the ACC went just 2-2 in the toss-up games but watch out for the conference this weekend as Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Maryland, and Duke all are capable of moving on.
The Big Ten squeezed four of five teams through to the next round but none of the victories were particularly impressive. Only Purdue covered and that game got a bit close for comfort in the final minutes. Wisconsin and Michigan State survived very tight games and while Ohio State won with relative ease they really never were able to pull away. Minnesota proved they probably did not belong in the field with a forgettable performance against Xavier.
The Mountain West got two teams through to the next round and San Diego State and UNLV acquitted themselves well in losing efforts. If either BYU or New Mexico can advance to the Sweet 16 as underdogs today it should be considered a successful tournament for a league that had been shutout the last few years. The WAC and Conference USA both went 0-2, failing to justify the at-large bids as UTEP and Utah State really did not compete well, but the tournament champions Houston and New Mexico State did prove they belonged with competitive efforts.