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DOES TCU'S ARRIVAL HURT BIG EAST BASKETBALL?
December 8, 2010

SCS.com There is little doubt that Texas Christian Universityís recent move to the Big East will help the Horned Frogs significantly. On the football field, TCU will be competing in a second consecutive BCS bowl; the Horned Frogs reached baseballís College World Series this past summer and following next season, TCU will dump the Mountain West conference for the Big East. While TCU will add credibility to a highly scrutinized BCS football conference, how does the Horned Frogs move affect Big East basketball?

Before you read any further, I want you to ask yourself,Ē how many basketball teams are in the Big East?Ē. The answer is 16; TCU will be the Big Eastís 17th school in basketball which happens to be the conferenceís strongest sport. The Big East Tournament already happens to be five days long. Teams seeded 9-16 have to win two more games than teams that finish 1-4. With a 17 team Big East, the top seven schools would likely get first round byes.

Letís ignore the fact that TCUís football team can compete with just about anybody in the country on a given Saturday and think about TCUís basketball team. The Horned Frogs have not reached the NCAA Tournament since 1998 when they were a member of the WAC and have not reached postseason play of any sort since 2005. TCU, as member of the Mountain West, never reached postseason play. The last time the Horned Frogs made the NCAA Tournament, the field was 64 teams, TCU was five seed that went one-and-done and forward Lee Nailon was the leading scorer.

Texas Christianís move to the Big East likely adds another bottom feeder to a conference more known for Syracuse, Connecticut and Louisville than DePaul, South Florida and Rutgers. Unlike the SEC, Southern Conference and the Sun Belt, the Big East does not divide the conference into divisions despite having more teams. 17 schools and no divisions could lead to distorted standings. For example, a team that had to play Villanova, Syracuse and Georgetown twice could finish with a weaker record than a school that had multiple match-ups with South Florida, Seton Hall and Providence. It could be the difference between a first round bye in the conference tournament and having to play as the lower seed in the first round. TCUís arrival adds another team to the bottom of the Big East, but that may be only for a short period of time.

The big winner in TCUís move to the Big East conference is TCU. The Horned Frogs are in fact located in Texas, a state that has plenty of in-state talent for recruiting. It will also be easier to get notable press if TCU were able to upset a school like Marquette or Villanova than beating the powers of the Mountain West like BYU and San Diego State. The Big East is also a great place to get exposure having a television contract with ESPN rather than Versus, a station owned by Comcast, that is not offered by all cable and satellite providers. It doesnít hurt telling recruits that the conference tournament is in New York City either.

One Month In, Walker is Nationís Best Player

In case you havenít heard, Connecticutís Kemba Walker is really, really good. Walker averaged just under 15 points a year ago as the Huskies missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007. This season, Connecticut is off to a 7-0 start and is ranked sixth in the country. The Huskies have already won the Maui Invitational and after being picked to finish 10th in the Big East and only Pittsburgh has a higher national ranking amongst Big East teams.

Walker, a 6í1Ē guard from the Bronx, began the year on the Naismith Watch List, but was not the most renowned name. In their third game of the year, the Huskies found themselves in a dog fight in Maui against Wichita State. Walker scored 31 points against the Shockers, but 29 of them came in the second half propelling UCONN to a 83-79 victory. In the second round of the Maui Invitational, Connecticut met up with second-ranked Michigan State and once again, Kemba Walker stole the show. Walker scored 30 points including a clutch jumper down the stretch to help the Huskies pull off the upset.

Walker scored another 29 points and dished out six assists as Connecticut blew out Kentucky to win the Maui Invitational. In its first game after winning the tournament in Maui, Connecticut found itself trailing at halftime at home against New Hampshire. Walker once again scored 30 points as UCONN downed New Hampshire 62-55. On Friday night, against Maryland Baltimore County, Walker recorded just the eighth triple-double in Connecticut history. Walker scored 24 to go with his 13 rebounds and 10 assists as the Huskies cruised to their largest victory of the season. The guy has no weaknesses.

One month into the College Basketball season, no player has been more impressive or meant more to his team than UCONNís Kemba Walker. Walker has carried the Huskies to wins over two programs that could go deep into the NCAA Tournament. While the year is far from over, Walker has at the very least cemented himself as a player to be watched and with a brutal Big East schedule, it is unlikely that Kemba Walker can score 30 every game. If nothing else, Connecticut has proven that it is capable of knocking off the caliber of programs that it will see if the Huskies are able to return to the NCAA Tournament. Is there any doubt as to who would take the last shot?

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