College Football tore the old Big East apart, with the conference to be wiped away from the slate, renamed into something else, possibly the America 12. In basketball, we’ll have a Big East, a new Big East; a combination of the Catholic 7 (Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova, Marquette and DePaul), and three new schools joining the conference; Butler, Xavier and Creighton, making it quite the mid-major powerhouse.
The new league, with the old name, will commence officially on July 1. The conference tournament will stick by tradition and remain at the Madison Square Garden, while the officials of the newly formed conference have already signed a 12-year television contract with Fox Sports.
While for the near future 10 teams looks like the number they’ll stick with, there’s expansion on their minds, as always with college sports these days. Next in line? Saint Louis and Dayton, lined up to be next to be poached by the newly formed league.
Butler have been in the tournament 11 times in the last 17 years (including in 2013), and made the Final Four and national championship game two years in a row, losing both times to Duke and UConn. Xavier, also coming from the Atlantic 10, missed the tournament this season for the first time since 2005, and have made it in 21 times over the last 27 years. Creighton, coming from the Missouri Valley conference, are into the tournament for a second consecutive time, making it 9 times in the last 15 years.
Why them? Tradition, academics, and basketball, what else? We looked for schools that had academic profiles like us. We wanted schools with strong sustainable and sustained athletic programs. And we wanted schools that could play really good basketball, because that’s really the bread and butter of the Big East. And when we examined all the schools that we thought about, we came to the conclusion that the three schools seated here among us today were the best schools that we could possibly ask to join the Big East.
All three joining schools have a losing record against the Catholic 7 since the 1979-1980 season, when the original Big East was formed. Xavier have the best record, 14-17, followed by Butler (3-5) and last are Creighton, winning only 8 times in 29 games against their new conference-mates.
The old Big East, most likely to be named the America 12, currently has 10 teams on its roster – Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, South Florida, Temple and Central Florida. Of these teams, Louisville will be headed to the ACC in 2014, and Rutgers are leaving to the Big Ten. Tulane will be joining the conference in 2014 along with East Carolina (in football only), while Navy, also on a football only agreement, join in 2015.