HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)
-- There's no doubt that the BIG EAST will get at least half the conference in the NCAA tournament next Monday when the field is revealed.
The question is will they have a record number of teams?
Ask the coaches in the BIG EAST and they feel getting 10 bids to the NCAAs isn't that crazy a notion.
"This conference is unbelievable, if they don't take 10 teams it's a slap in our face," Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "West Virginia comes in undefeated, and their losses are all in the conference."
It's hard to argue with her. The BIG EAST's 16 teams have a 160-54 record against the rest of the country. Take just the top 10 teams in the league and it's a whopping 114-23 (83 percent).
Williams-Flournoy and the rest of the BIG EAST coaches know that those last two spots are no guarantee--no matter how good they've been.
"They've only taken 7 or 8 so if you're sitting at 9 and 10 you're on the bubble despite being one of the best teams. That's tough," she said.
Many of the bracketologists have projected that 10 teams will make it.
Six teams have pretty much already assured themselves a spot in the NCAAs. No. 1 UConn, No. 9 DePaul, No. 10 Notre Dame, No. 23 Georgetown, No. 25 Marquette, and unranked Louisville are in really good shape.
Left for dead early in the season, Rutgers -- as usual -- made a late season run that put them solidly in great shape to make the NCAA tournament.
Despite only having an 19-12 record overall, the Scarlet Knights finished fourth in the conference. They had a really tough out of conference schedule, playing No. 2 Stanford, No. 4 Tennessee, and No. 5 Texas A&M. Not too mention top-ranked UConn twice and seventh-ranked Notre Dame.
It would be really tough to pass up the fourth place team in the conference.
St. John's, Syracuse and West Virginia all have strong resumes, but will be a little more nervous on Monday.
The Red Storm beat Marist and Georgetown while Syracuse topped Marquette and Louisville as well as Ohio State.
"If you look at our record outside the conference it wouldn't be out of the question to get 10 teams in," said Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman.
His Orange will probably need some help as they fell in the second round to Georgetown.
St. John's probably cemented its NCAA bid with its second-round win over West Virginia.
"I think 10 teams in our league should get in," Red Storm coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "I don't get to make that call. I think there's no question we're a tournament team."
West Virginia may be a major headache for the NCAA selection committee. The Mountainers started out 19-1, winning all 14 of their non-conference games with victories over TCU and Iowa State. They have faltered in the conference though, losing seven of their last 10 regular season games to finish 10th. The Mountaineers won their opening matchup against Cincinnati before losing to the Red Storm in the second round.
Coach Mike Carey was extremely confident his team would play in the NCAAs.
"I think we're in," he said. "We won 23 basketball games and we were .500 in the BIG EAST. I wouldn't see why we wouldn't be in."
There was a time not long ago when taking eight teams from a conference seemed unheard of, but the BIG EAST achieved that mark three times--last in 2008. Now it's possible that nearly a sixth of the field could come from one conference.
For those who believe that the NCAA selection committee might try and avoid a conference having such a disparity in numbers--think again.
"There's none of that, nobody's counting" said Duke associate athletic director Jackie Silar, who served the past five years on the committee, including chairing it last year. "You don't do any comparison of the conferences."
The BIG EAST is even stronger on the men's side with potentially 11 teams deserving of berths in that tournament.