With conference shifts looming over the next few years, many old rivalries will be severed, to the dismay of fans. There was a time when Georgetown and Syracuse fans were upset whenever their programs didn't face each other twice in a season, and now, sometime soon, they will go an entire season without playing at all.
For Villanova, losing some old Big East rivalries means losing some of the best ticket-sellers that the Wildcats had on their schedule. Big crowds would often show up to see Villanova play Syracuse, UConn and Pittsburgh, for example. How will the Wildcats replace those draws on their new schedule?
According to Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, the plan to replace Syracuse may involve . . . Syracuse.
"We're talking w/ St. John's and Georgetown right now, and Villanova. We're heavily into talks," the coach said during a radio show on a local ESPN radio station. The plan, he says, is for the Orange to play two of their old rivals per year, rotating through the old Big East allies and hopefully retaining some of the old Big East magic despite removing the conference label from the games.
Notre Dame could also remain on the non-conference schedule for Villanova. Irish head coach Mike Brey noted at Big East media day that he would like his program to keep playing against some of the Big East's C-7 schools. Head coaches have a major influence over scheduling in college hoops, and both Brey and Wright said that they would be willing to play that match-up. We're not in Philadelphia anymore so we definitely want Villanova, we want to go to New York with St. John's and keep DePaul and Marquette," Brey said at the time, adding Georgetown as a possibility as well, despite the ACC having Maryland in the D.C. market at the time.
With uncertainty in the membership, strength and earning power of the C-7 conference remaining, scheduling a strong non-conference is important for the future of the basketball programs at Villanova, Georgetown and the others. Is there value in keeping old rivalries alive? For the sake of recruiting, exposure, and ticket sales, the option becomes increasingly more appealing.