The best team in the Big East is Louisville and it can’t be debated. If the Cardinals perform up to expectations, they should roll to their first conference championship since 2006.
But the Big East rarely shakes out the way we think it will and has been one of the most unpredictable conferences through the years. In all likelihood, it’s the result of each team being more or less the same. Last year, for instance, the Big East’s best team (West Virginia) lost to its worst team (Syracuse) … by 26 points.
That simply doesn’t happen in any other conference.
- LSU beat Ole Miss by 49.
- Oklahoma State beat Kansas by 42.
- Oregon beat Arizona by 25.
- Wisconsin beat Indiana by 52.
- Clemson beat Maryland by 11.
Because the Big East is the only BCS league that has seven conference games, the schedule plays a prominent role in futures odds. All things being equal, the team with four home games instead of three will be perceived to have a better chance.
Current Big East odds (courtesy of YouWager):
South Florida +300
If you asked four people off the street to rank USF, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Pittsburgh in order, there’s a good chance that each would give you a different answer. Even oddsmakers can’t get it straight. But because USF and Cincinnati play four home games instead of three, they’re listed ahead of Rutgers and Pittsburgh—who each play just three home games.
But how important is homefield in the Big East?
Since 2005 (the year Louisville, USF and Cincinnati joined the conference), the record of teams that get to play four conference home games is actually worse than those who must play four road games.
From Statistically Speaking:
|YEAR||4 HOME GAMES||4 ROAD GAMES|
As you can see, Big East teams that had more road games than home games finished with a better overall record five of seven times and have a far better overall win percentage (.531 to .469). Also, five teams have won the league title despite playing more road games than home games.
Perhaps Statistically Speaking says it best: “When forecasting Big East success, take heed of the quality of the team and don’t overemphasize the value of one additional home game.”