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UConn head coach Dan Hurley expressed frustration over the exclusion of Big East teams, particularly St. John’s and Seton Hall, from the NCAA Tournament. Hurley argued that the conference had performed well in non-conference games and deserved more representation in the tournament. Despite only three Big East teams making it to the tournament, all three have advanced to the Sweet 16, with UConn, Marquette, and Creighton performing strongly.

Prior to the NCAA tournament, fans believed that more Big East programs should have been included in the field of 68. St. John’s, the highest KenPom-rated team to miss the tournament at 25th, made it to the Big East semifinal before losing to UConn. Seton Hall, ranked 63rd in the KenPom ratings, had victories over both UConn and Marquette during the regular season. Hurley pointed to these accomplishments as evidence that Big East teams deserved a spot in the tournament.

The SEC’s underperformance in the tournament, with a 2-6 record in the first round and upsets by lower-seeded teams, supported Hurley’s argument that the Big East teams were unfairly excluded. With Virginia suffering a blowout loss in the First Four, and top teams like Kentucky and Auburn falling to lower-seeded opponents, Hurley criticized the committee’s decision to overlook the Big East. UConn will face San Diego State in the upcoming Sweet 16 round in a rematch of last year’s national championship game.

UConn’s continued dominance in the tournament, with blowout victories over opponents like Northwestern, further underscored Hurley’s belief that more Big East teams should have been included in the NCAA Tournament. Despite being a one-seed in the tournament, UConn faced skepticism and criticism for their exclusion of other Big East teams. The success of Marquette and Creighton in the tournament also highlighted the strength of the conference overall.

As the Sweet 16 round approached, UConn’s performance and strong showing in the tournament reinforced Hurley’s belief that the Big East had been unfairly overlooked. With matchups against top teams like San Diego State on the horizon, Hurley remained outspoken about the committee’s decision and advocated for greater recognition of Big East teams. UConn’s path to the Sweet 16 and beyond further validated Hurley’s argument for more Big East representation in the NCAA Tournament.

In the face of adversity and skepticism, UConn and other Big East teams proved their worth by advancing to the Sweet 16 and showcasing their talent on the national stage. Hurley’s outspoken criticism of the committee’s decision to exclude Big East teams resonated with fans and observers, who recognized the conference’s strength and performance throughout the season. As UConn and other Big East teams continued their march through March Madness, they had the opportunity to prove their detractors wrong and demonstrate the quality of competition within the conference.

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