What a new Big East basketball conference might look like

By: Kels Dayton

Big East commissioner Mike Arseco met with the seven Catholic, non-football playing schools on Monday to address concerns about the future of the conference. The Big East has just three football-playing members returning (Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida), and is adding Memphis, Temple, Tulane, East Carolina, SMU, and god-knows-who else next season.

There has been plenty of talk about the basketball schools breaking free from all this madness and forming their own conference.

The Atlantic 10 even chimed in, saying it would be open to adding the seven Big East schools and forming a 21-team mega-goliath-superconference that would make absolutely no sense.

Instead of that, how about this…a new conference altogether. The Big East football conference can just use another name, since it now consists of schools in California and Idaho.

Here is what a new “basketball Big East” could look like.

Georgetown– The Hoyas are one of the 15-best basketball programs in college hoops history, and bring the Washington, D.C. market along with them. It would be a real shame if Georgetown suffered because of the new conference realignment climate.

Villanova- ‘Nova is a basketball power that should remain relevant under Jay Wright (although the Wildcats have slipped recently). It doesn’t hurt that the school is in Philadelphia, either.

Marquette- Another historic basketball program in a major market (Milwaukee). The Golden Eagles won’t slip under Buzz Williams, who has done a remarkable job of helping Marquette compete in the Big East.

St. John’s- The Johnnies are New York City’s real college team.

Providence- The Friars struggled in the powerful, 16-team Big East, but could thrive in a conference that more fits their needs. It isn’t hard to imagine the Ed Cooley-led Friars rising to the top of this conference.

DePaul- The Blue Demons were a decent program before the 16-team Big East swallowed them up, pushing them to the basement. But the Chicago school has tremendous potential and a past that includes Final Fours, Hall of Famers, and great seasons.

Seton Hall- This would be a nice landing spot for the Hall, which has gotten lost in all of this conference realignment craziness.

Xavier- The Musketeers make the most sense of any of the non-Big East teams on this list. They’ve been a major program with major success in a league with mid-major schools like St. Bonaventure, LaSalle, and Duquesne. This move would be terrific for Xavier.

Butler-This program has become one of the pre-eminent in the 2010’s, with back-to-back trips to the national championship game. You don’t even have to throw in the fact that it’s in Indianapolis. Enough said.

Saint Louis- The loss of Rick Majerus is tough for everyone. If SLU can somehow recover, it would add a major market and a good basketball history.

Virginia Commonwealth-VCU would do well in this conference, as long as Shaka Smart and his trapping, pressing, up-tempo game sticks around. The school has done a tremendous job of following up its Final Four run in 2011, and this would be a nice step up.

Saint Joseph’s- Joining alongside Philly rival Villanova would add intrigue, and an interesting new rivalry.


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