Let me preface this: I know college basketball doesn’t matter when it comes to realignment. It’s all about football. That’s been obvious for years.
The Big East has been the best conference in college basketball since I started following the sport in the mid-80s. My earliest memories of college hoops involve Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown teams and Sherman Douglas’s Syracuse teams. The league’s postseason tournament is by far one of the best spectacles in college sports. The 5-day orgy of hoops at Madison Square Garden is the ideal warm-up for the NCAA tournament. Big Monday warms my heart on cold January and February nights.
And now, because of greed, the conference is toast. Syracuse and Pittsburgh bolted over the weekend for the ACC, but how can you fault them? In conference realignment madness, it’s eat or be eaten or worst of all, get left out. The ACC needed to pilfer a couple teams in the event that the SEC – or someone else – attempted to steal from their conference.
So the ACC now has 14 teams, and in the event the SEC goes after Virginia Tech, the ACC has no worries because UConn wants out of the Big East, so the Huskies are an option (though not a good one for football). The Big East? Fucked. Big East hoops purists will find this line, from Dana O’Neill, tough to swallow:
Football is blown to smithereens and basketball, while surviving, loses two of its strongest members. The once-powerful Big East meekly goes down as just another casualty in the money-grubbing, protection-of-assets war that has overtaken college athletics.
Eventually, I’ll get over it, and I’ll grow to love the ACC tournament. But I’ll always long for the Bilas and Raftery going nuts at the Garden in early March: