Following the No. 1 seed Iona Gaels' shocking semifinal upset in the 2012 MAAC Tournament to the Fairfield Stags on Sunday, the Iona coach made his case for being included in the NCAA Tournament by taking a shot at the Big East.
Iona Coach Tim Cluess: "If you’re going to pick 8 or 9 teams out of the Big East, that’s nonsense. Those teams aren’t as good as we are."— Pete Thamel(@PeteThamelNYT) March 4, 2012
Part of what made the loss so stunning is that Fairfield was without second-team All-MAAC guard Derek Needham who has scored 1364 career points. Needham is out for the season after breaking a bone in his foot in a regular season game against Iona on Feb. 24. Needham was second on the Stags in scoring and first in assists at the time.
As for the Big East, the conference has seemingly had a down season after sending a record 11 squads to the NCAA Tournament last season. The 8th and 9th placed teams in the Big East during the regular season were West Virginia (19-12, 9-9) and Seton Hall (19-11, 8-10). Iona is 25-7 but has zero wins over ranked teams.