NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: Donnell Beverly #2, Kemba Walker #15 and Charles Okwandu #35 of the Connecticut Huskies hold up the Championship trophy after defeating the Louisville Cardinals during the championship of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Despite its supposed struggles in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the league still set a record by getting eleven teams into the tournament (and of course, ya know, the eventual national champion). The Big East was recognized as the nation's best basketball conference not for its SEC-style string of national champions, but for the overall depth and quality of the teams. This was certainly the case in the 2010-2011 season, and, judging by the recruiting success of its teams, the Big East should have no problem remaining the nation's best overall basketball conference.
Using the final Rivals 150 for the class of 2011, here's a quick look at just how well the Big East did at luring its share of the nation's top talent.
- The Big East's 16 schools signed a total of 33 players that were ranked in the final Rivals 150, exceeding the total for the SEC (26), ACC (21), Big Ten (18), Big XII (14), and PAC 12 (14).
- Even factoring in conference size, Big East schools signed 2.06 players/member, topped only by the SEC which had 26 from its 12 members.
- Of the Big East's 16 members, only South Florida, Seton Hall, and Providence failed to sign any of the top 150. Yes, that means even DePaul got one (guard Shane Larkin from Orlando, FL. Larkin was rated a four-star prospect).
- Five Big East schools (Pittsburgh, Louisville, St. John's, Georgetown, and Rutgers) signed three or more of the top 150.
- In terms of the team rankings, St. John's and Louisville both signed classes ranked in the top 10, while Syracuse, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, West Virginia, and Villanova all had classes ranked in the top 25.
- The highest overall rated player to sign with a Big East school was Khem Birch, a 6'8 forward headed to Pittsburgh. He was rated the #9 player for the class of 2011.
- St. John's, who returns just one returning player from last year's team, signed a whopping six of the top 150. The Red Storm will need all of them to play well and play well early to make up for the loss of a large, experience senior class.
Adding such a large group of highly rated players to a conference that figures to once again have seven or eight teams in the top 25 going into 2011-2012 will help ensure that the Big East will remain the nation's best basketball conference going forward.