Happy Wednesday Nova Nation! The running narrative this season has been the Big East took a step back. Statistically, that’s true. The conference has had a slight dip in performance, but not nearly as much as was projected after the mass exodus of talent last season. That said, they remain a Top 5 conference per KenPom.com. By the way, please join me in laughing in the face of anyone that tries to claim the PAC-12 or AAC are even close to the same level.
Off the court has been a different story entirely, as the Big East has been grabbing headlines left and right. First was the news that the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden would be extended through 2026. This was especially huge news as both the Big 10 and the ACC had been making moves to try to oust Big East from the Garden and take over that coveted week prior to Selection Sunday.
Then yesterday it was announced that for the first time ever, a single DI conference would represent USA Basketball in the Pan American games this summer. Again, the Big East beat out the competition for the honor. The conference has some very strong ties to USA Basketball and one of those, Providence’s Ed Cooley, will be this team’s head coach. He’ll lead a group of Big East coaches and 12 players to Peru in August to compete for PanAm gold, something USA Basketball hasn’t won since 1983 when Michael Jordan was on the team.
But the most intriguing off-court news this season has been that the Big East is open to expanding. By adding one more team, the conference could maintain their round-robin schedule while expanding to 20 conference games. A number of schools have reached out to the Big East about this opportunity, but no official considerations have been made yet. Well with another three days until Villanova plays a real game, I figured I’d throw out my top candidates for the position. We’ll start with Nova’s opponent on Saturday.
UConn: The Fan Favorite
This would be the most popular candidate by far, on both sides of the aisle. Not only are they former Big East members, but they’re one of the most storied and successful programs in all of college basketball. And now they’re on the rise. Both Big East and UConn fans want this reconciliation to happen. But the same reason they split is going to keep them apart again: football. UConn football, despite going 1-11 this year for their 8th consecutive losing season, some how makes money for the university. Cash is still king, and the state run school won’t be able to just turn that away. If they moved out of the AAC in basketball, they’d likely have to move out in football too (WHY would the AAC keep them!?!?) and the Big East isn’t an option for football schools. There’s just too many moving pieces to make this work for both sides, especially when there may be better options out there.
Saint Louis: The Actual Favorite
The Billikens have been positioning themselves to move up to a better conference since the last round of realignment. They’re a basketball first, private school that makes sense geographically in a Top 25 media market. And on top of that, their program is on the way up. After a few losing seasons under, former Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford has been turning this program around. They had their first winning season in four years in 2017-18. This season they’re 7-3 with wins over Seton Hall and Butler, and should compete for an A-10 title. If you’re heading to Vegas anytime soon, St. Louis looks like the smart bet for the Big East’s next team.
Others Receiving Votes
There are a number of other teams out there that would at least qualify for consideration, even if they’d be dark horses at best. However, there are four other names that warrant serious consideration: Davidson, Dayton, VCU, and Wichita State. For one reason or another, these four don’t have quite as much to bring to the table as St. Louis, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be strong fits or that they couldn’t end up getting the invite.
So as the Big East continues to make big moves on and off the court, who do you think the Big East will add in the coming years?
Which team will join the Big East in the next few seasons?
This poll is closed
No Big East Expansion
In other “news”, Kelly Jekot killed it this week, Bryan Antoine is now Top 10 among Jersey’s all-time scorers, and Andy Katz has a Christmas wish for Villanova. Enjoy!
Big East basketball players, coaches to represent U.S. in next year’s Pan American Games | The Inquirer
The national governing body for basketball and the NCAA agreed the team that would participate in next year's Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, would be from one conference.
Big East to represent U.S. at 2019 Pan Am Games | ESPN
For the first time, a single Division I conference will represent the United States in men's basketball at the Pan American Games.
Ranking the Top College Basketball Conferences in 2018-19 | Bleacher Report
With two weeks remaining until conference play begins in earnest, the ACC , Big 12 and Big Ten all have a claim to be the No. 1 conference in men's college basketball...
Villanova's Kelly Jekot named Big East POTW | cumberlink.com
Cumberland Valley grad and Villanova women's basketball junior guard Kelly Jekot was named the Big East Player of the Week. Jekot had 20 points in Friday's win over Georgia.
44 March Madness wishes Andy Katz wants to see come true | NCAA.com
As we approach the holidays, Andy Katz shares a March Madness wish list for 44 teams.
Inside one of sports' most abhorrent trends: The unearthing of old tweets | Yahoo! Sports
A depressingly common trend has emerged across sports recently as a generation raised with social media enters the college and pro game -- the recirculation of inappropriate tweets they wrote when they were as young as 14 or 15 years old.
Class of 2019
Shore scoring list: Bryan Antoine up to No. 10; passes Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki | USA Today Network
Ranney School's Bryan Antoine now has 1,880 career points, and needs 423 points to become the all-time leading scorer at the Jersey Shore
City of Palms Classic: Meet the teams in the 46th annual tournament | USA Today
Here are the teams facing off in the two brackets at the 46th annual City of Palms Classic basketball tournament. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl will be there with IMG Academy.
NET rankings: Michigan, Virginia, Duke atop most recent update (Dec. 17) | NCAA.com
Michigan is now No. 1 in the latest college basketball NET rankings, with Virginia second and Duke No. 3. The NET is what the NCAA selection committee will use to fill the March Madness field.
Kentucky Transfer Quade Green Reportedly Visiting Power Conference Program | The SPUN
Green, a former five-star guard recruit, reportedly took a trip to Seattle this week.