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The Big Beast rules

Posted March 27, 2009, 10:38 AM HST Updated March 27, 2009, 01:58 PM HST
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Who is the best college basketball team in the country?  That will be decided over the next couple of weekends, and the cast of contenders has now been reduced to an even dozen following Thursday’s first four games in the Sweet Sixteen.

What is the best college basketball conference in the nation?  We don’t have to wait until the conclusion of the NCAA tournament’s championship game on April 6 for the answer to that question.

If there were any doubts before, there are none now.  Not after the Big East — aka the Big Beast — went 3-for-3 last night.  And two more of that powerhouse league’s members are in action today.

The most impressive of those victories was posted by third-seeded Villanova, which absolutely outclassed No. 2 Duke of the ACC 77-54 in what at times resembled a clinic on executing back cuts.

Not to be outdone, top-seeded UConn capitalized on a dominant performance by 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet to beat stubborn No. 5 Purdue 72-60.  Thabeet had 15 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks

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And the third of the Big East’s top seeds, Pittsburgh, had the toughest test before subduing No. 4 Xavier 60-55.

Today, the Big East will seek to keep its tournament run going as top-seeded Louisville faces massive underdog Arizona and No. 3 Syracuse challenges No. 2 Oklahoma.

And if everything works out in its favor, there’s actually a chance that all of the Final Four teams could come out of the Big Beast.  Is that absolutely frightening, or what?

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