PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The Big East Conference made a big impact in the NCAA tournament this year.
The unveiling of the tournament brackets on Sunday included an unprecedented 11 teams from a single conference — the Big East. Throughout the year the Big East Conference has had anywhere from seven to nine teams in the AP Top 25 at any one time.
Leading the way for the Big East was Pittsburgh, who received the top seed in the Southeast bracket and will face the winner of UNC-Asheville/Arkansas of Little Rock.
“What we’ve done in the past is good, but it doesn’t mean a lot once you start playing in the tournament,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “We’ve got to go and play good basketball, and we’ve got to get better in these couple of days.”
The 11 teams set another banner day for the league that was formed for basketball in 1979. It gets credit for helping transform the sport’s postseason into a three-week event that brings America together through office pools and the irresistible love of underdogs.
This year, the tournament will see the addition of three more at-large teams that will open play in the “First Four” on Tuesday and Wednesday. Two of those games pit the last at-large teams to make the field — UAB (22-9) vs. Clemson (21-11) and Southern Cal (19-14) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (23-11).
Those, along with every other game of the entire tournament, will be aired in their entirety on four networks.
Before the start of the season, TBS, TNT and truTV joined CBS in signing a new, 14-year TV contract worth $10.8 billion. The games used to all be shown on CBS, with the network deciding which part of the country got which games. Now, the viewers can pick and choose from all of them.