Hello, college basketball fans!
Maybe after this week's results, maybe the Big East divorce isn't such a bad thing.
But next season and the following season, things will look quite different in college basketball.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be heading to the ACC next season with Louisville and Notre Dame to follow in 2014-15.
Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette and DePaul left the "old" Big East to form the "new" Big East. Xavier, Butler and Creighton will join them.
Rutgers will join the Big Ten in 2014-15 but that is irrelevant for basketball except that all of the Big Ten RPI's will sink as Rutgers' last NCAA appearance was 1991.
That leaves Connecticut, Cincinnati, and South Florida. Temple joined the Big East in football this season.
I have always said Temple belonged in Big East basketball ever since the John Chaney days. I was hoping that Temple would be playing Georgetown and Villanova but now they are gone. I feel like Temple is like the unwanted kid who finally gets invited to a party only to find once he or she gets there all the cool kids left.
Temple's new conference opponents in 2014-15 are at the time of this writing: Connecticut, Cincinnati, South Florida, Central Florida, Memphis, Houston, SMU, and Tulane. East Carolina is scheduled to be a football only member but that could change. In addition, Tulsa may be coming as well.
Of these schools, only Connecticut and Cincinnati are within 1000 miles of Philadelphia. Ironically, East Carolina would be relatively close if they get an invite to college basketball. Houston and SMU are west of the Mississippi River. Tulsa, if they join, would also be. Tulane is right along the Mississippi in New Orleans.
In addition, of the other five new members only Memphis made the NCAA tournament this year and the only one that has any significant basketball history whatsoever.
Central Florida has never won an NCAA tournament game. They made four trips to the Big Dance with the most recent being in 2005.
South Florida made the Round of 32 last season (ironically, at Temple's expense). But they have only made the tournament three times and last year's visit was their first since 1992. Not counting last year's First Four game, they've won just one NCAA tournament game.
SMU's last NCAA appearance was 1993. They last won in 1988.
While Houston is well known for Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler (Phi Slamma Jamma), they are 0-4 in the NCAA tournament since 1985 and have made just one NCAA tournament since 1992 (2010).
Should East Carolina join, they've never won an NCAA tournament game and they've made just two appearances (1972 and 1993).
This is bad news not only for Temple, but Connecticut and Cincinnati as well. No wonder UConn and Cincinnati wanted to get in the ACC so badly.
Honestly, I think the Atlantic 10 would be better for the three schools. Assuming Dayton and St. Louis join the Big East eventually, they may not be much better than the rest of their new conference (VCU will probably be the only strong basketball member left). But teams will be much closer to the Northeast schools. Even the MAC would be better.
But if UConn, Cincinnati and Temple are stuck in this league, is there a way to make things better? Yes.
If the Big East is at nine or 10 schools, the most obvious choice would be a full double round robin schedule. But that means the Northeastern schools have to make two trips to Texas (assuming the league doesn't schedule them back-to-back).
On the other hand, do the Texas schools really want to play at Temple and UConn? Not only are they far away, but they're cold in the winter.
My alternative would be for neighboring geographic schools to play more often.
Let's assume East Carolina joins the league for men's basketball. I will divide the 10 teams into four groups:
- Northeast: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Temple
- Southeast: Central Florida, East Carolina, South Florida
Better conference for UConn, Cincy, and Temple?
- Southwest: Houston, SMU, Tulane
- Memphis: Memphis
All teams other than Memphis will play the other two teams in their group four times (two home and two away), Memphis twice (home and away), and all other teams once.
Meanwhile, Memphis will play everyone twice (since Memphis is actually a good basketball program, I don't have a problem with the Northeast schools playing a home and home with them).
So, Temple would only play Central Florida, East Carolina, South Florida, Houston, SMU, and Tulane once a year, Memphis twice, and UConn and Cincinnati four times for a total of 18 games.
This allows more regional games and less travel for everyone involved. The better teams will play more often while the lesser teams play a much less challenging schedule.
I'm sure no conference has ever had this setup. On the other hand, not many conferences have teams along the East Coast and teams in Texas.
This conference really was set up for football. Temple and UConn probably don't want to play SMU, Houston and Tulane in basketball and other sports and vice versa. So unless the Northeast three escape this league, maybe this setup will be the best for everyone