Ranking the Best Rivalries Involving Big East Teams
No average person believes that conference realignment in intercollegiate athletics is a good thing.
One of the reasons for the disdain of the common folk, college basketball scribes included, is that the athletic directors and university presidents who care about money fail to remember the great rivalries their teams have had over the years.
No conference has suffered from this more than the Big East Conference.
What once was a conference stacked with rivalry game after rivalry game is now a group of 10 basketball schools, some of whom are familiar with each other.
While we can talk endlessly about how much we all hate realignment, let's forget about that for a few minutes and reminisce about the best rivalries involving the current 10 teams in the Big East.
10. Seton Hall vs. St. John's
It is obvious that Seton Hall versus St. John's is not considered a big rivalry on the national stage, but it is considered a big deal at the local level.
Seton Hall has been searching for relevancy for the last decade while the Johnnies have seen plenty of success in their history.
This matchup has a bit of a Big Brother vs. Little Brother mentality to it as well.
St. John's has seen its fair share of legends pass through its halls, including Chris Mullin and Lou Carnesecca.
The Johnnies have also made the Final Four twice and qualified for 28 NCAA Men's Basketball tournaments.
Seton Hall plays in the shadow of the Big Apple in northern New Jersey, and they have not seen a ton of success outside of the span from 1989 to 1994.
While the rivalry will never reach soaring heights, it will have some meaning, especially to the perpetual underdogs at Seton Hall, who are always looking to spring an upset.
9. DePaul vs. Marquette
The matchup pitting DePaul against Marquette is quite lopsided given the current state of both programs.
However, the games between the Blue Demons and Golden Eagles do give us a local rivalry between the towns of Chicago and Milwaukee.
With Marquette fans able to make the trek down to the Allstate Arena quite easily, games played between the two sides in Chicago can get feisty if the right situation presents itself.
However, DePaul fans are nowhere close to reaching the level of being a nuisance to the home crowd when their team visits the Bradley Center.
Once that changes, this rivalry can be taken seriously and be ranked higher on this list.
8. Providence vs. Rhode Island
Few people outside of New England are aware of the history between Ocean State rivals Providence and Rhode Island.
Neither team has put out a nationally recognized program in years, but both teams make sure they bring it all to the floor when they meet during nonconference play.
Both teams have also been stuck toward the bottom end of their conferences, and when they take on a nationally ranked team during nonconference play, they usually come out on the losing end.
Those unfortunate occurrences make this matchup better because it comes during the thick of nonconference play when both teams are getting knocked around.
A couple more reasons to enjoy this intrastate rivalry are the passion that is left out there on the court, and the fact that these two rivals make a legitimate effort to play each other every season despite being in two separate conferences.
7. Butler vs. Xavier
On the surface, you do not easily associate games between Butler and Xavier as those of the rivalry type.
But, if you dig deeper, the two programs do have a ton of history between each other.
Way back in 1979, the Bulldogs and Musketeers were founding members of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, which today is known as the Horizon League.
Throughout the conference realignment process, the two old foes have not been able to get rid of each other for long.
Last season, the two Midwestern rivals found themselves paired together in the Atlantic 10, and because of the silliness of college realignment, they are paired together again this season, but they are now members of the Big East.
6. Villanova vs. Syracuse
It is still very odd not referring to Syracuse as a Big East team anymore.
During their time in the conference, the Orange created plenty of rivalries with schools, but two of them stick out specifically.
One of those rivalries is with Villanova, who have always handed the Orange a challenge.
When Syracuse departed for the ACC this offseason, the Wildcats were left with a void in the rivalry department, but have no fear, the two teams will be playing each other for the next two seasons as nonconference opponents.
For lovers of the old Big East, one has to hope that the agreement between the Wildcats and Orange continues past the 2014-15 season.
5. Marquette vs. Wisconsin
The state of Wisconsin is in great shape when it comes to the state of their major college basketball rivalry.
Both Marquette and Wisconsin have built themselves into two of the premier programs in the sport over the last decade, and it has taken their rivalry to the next level.
With two contrasting styles of play, the Golden Eagles and Badgers always present an intriguing matchup for observers inside and outside of the Badger State.
No matter what style of basketball you prefer, you are almost guaranteed to see a great game and experience a spectacular basketball environment when these two Wisconsin rivals get together.
4. Creighton vs. Wichita State
Before embarking on a new challenge this season in the revamped Big East, the Creighton Bluejays were the class of the Missouri Valley Conference.
For quite some time, the Bluejays biggest challenger to the throne in The Valley was the Wichita State Shockers.
It was only fitting that during Creighton's last season in their old conference, they played three solid games against the Shockers, who will now be the team to beat in the mid-major conference.
Unfortunately for both parties, the rivalry will not be continued this season during nonconference play, but do not fret Creighton fans, you still have the one-sided rivalry game against Nebraska to get excited about.
3. Xavier vs. Cincinnati
The rivalry game between Xavier and Cincinnati is always one that receives plenty of attention due to the talent on the court.
However, in recent years, this matchup has been marred by the brawl that broke out between the two teams back in 2011.
After that game, there were some whispers that the "Crosstown Classic" would not be held in 2012, but cooler heads prevailed and the two teams matched up yet again in 2012 to continue their annual Queen City showdown.
In the last matchup between the Musketeers and Bearcats in 2012, it was Cincinnati who came out on top.
Ironically enough, with all of the changes made during conference realignment, these two rivals have never found themselves in the same conference.
2. Villanova vs. Georgetown
One rivalry involving two Big East teams that has thankfully survived the rigors of realignment is the one between the Villanova Wildcats and Georgetown Hoyas.
This rivalry produced one of the best underdog stories in the history of college basketball back in 1985 when the Wildcats, led by Ed Pinckney, took down the heavily favored Hoyas in the National Championship Game.
That upset by the Wildcats only fueled the fire in the rivalry as both teams have continually played higher than their abilities when the two teams face off.
The tradition that this rivalry encompasses represents every aspect of what a rivalry should be, and luckily for fans of the Big East, it will continue twice a year for the foreseeable future.
1. Georgetown vs. Syracuse
The Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry was the best rivalry in the Big East Conference before the Orange departed for the ACC, and while the two programs may not be playing each other any time soon, it still ranks as the best rivalry that involves a current Big East team.
The rivalry began back in the inaugural season of the Big East when Georgetown closed out Syracuse's old dwelling place, Manley Fieldhouse, in style.
After that historic game, the showdown between two of the best coaches in the game, Jim Boeheim and John Thompson, thrived during the 1980s.
Although Georgetown were down for a few years near the turn of the century, they came back stronger than ever under John Thompson III.
Fortunately, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for this epic East Coast rivalry as a potential 10-year deal is in the works for the now-nonconference rivals to write a new chapter in their histories.
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