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Marquette's Shaka Smart: DePaul's 'worst year ever' led to lack of Big East schools in March Madness

Marquette’s Shaka Smart: DePaul’s ‘worst year ever’ led to lack of Big East schools in March Madness

Tooba Shakir 1 month ago 0

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As the NCAA Tournament bracket came into clear view on Selection Sunday, one of the main storylines was the lack of Big East representation when there is usually a good amount of teams from the conference each year. 

Marquette is one of the three that made it into the tournament, earning themselves a No. 2 seed that will go against No. 15 Western Kentucky on Friday afternoon. There’s also No. 3 Creighton and the favorite to win it all again, No. 1 Connecticut. 

But teams like St. John’s, Seton Hall and Providence didn’t make the cut. Marquette head coach Shaka Smart thinks he knows why the Big East didn’t get too much love from those creating the bracket this year. 

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Marquette's Shaka Smart: DePaul's 'worst year ever' led to lack of Big East schools in March Madness

Head coach Shaka Smart of the Marquette Golden Eagles directs his team in the first half against the Providence Friars during the Semifinal round of the Big East Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 15, 2024 in New York City. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

“It was a perfect storm numbers-wise in our league,” Smart told CBS Sports. “You had UConn having the best year ever of any Big East team. And then you had DePaul probably having the worst year ever. 

“That affected those teams in the middle.”

Looking at those numbers, the Huskies went 18-2 in Big East play this season, which is the most wins for a school in the conference ever. 

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At the same time, DePaul, a team that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since the 2003-04 season when they were in Conference USA, went an abysmal 0-20 in Big East play and 3-29 overall. 

As a result, head coach Tony Stubblefield was fired in January, leading to the hire of Chris Holtman this past week. 

Marquette's Shaka Smart: DePaul's 'worst year ever' led to lack of Big East schools in March Madness

head coach Shaka Smart of the Marquette Golden Eagles directs his team in the first half against the Providence Friars during the Semifinal round of the Big East Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 15, 2024 in New York City. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

How does it affect team like Seton Hall, who beat UConn this year? It all comes down to strength of schedule and the analytics that determine who on the bubble should make the tournament, and worse, who should be out. 

“I think the analytics are bulls—,” Providence head coach Kim English told reporters after his squad was ruled out. “I think you could schedule bad teams in your non-league and beat the snot out of them and beat them by 50 and 60. I think coaching for so long has been a gentleman agreement. I mean, you have a large lead at the end of the game, for health reasons you take guys out, to get some other guys opportunities to play, you take guys out. 

“But right now might be a change in college basketball. We’re scheduling to beat teams by 40 and 50. [It] might be a thing to do, but when you get into this league, the analytics aren’t going to look very good in league. You’re playing against some really, really good coaches.”

Marquette's Shaka Smart: DePaul's 'worst year ever' led to lack of Big East schools in March Madness

head coach Shaka Smart of the Marquette Golden Eagles looks on in the first half against the Providence Friars during the Semifinal round of the Big East Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 15, 2024 in New York City. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

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The selection committee’s final four teams that made the cut were Boise State, Colorado, Virginia and Colorado State. 

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