Opinion Sports Columns

So Long and Farewell Big East

Terrence Payne

Sports Editor

Connecticut once again is playing its best basketball of the season at the right time. Three straight wins, two in the Big East Tournament, have strengthened the Huskies’ bid for an NCAA Tournament.

They played arguably one of the more exciting Big East games this season in a tightly contested overtime win (71-67) over West Virginia. Two legendary powers, two legendary coaches, stars on each side. It was the making of a great game and it lived up to the hype.

That’s also the last time they’ll ever share a court together. At least mandatorily share the court together.

The Mountaineers are bouncing after this season to head to the Big 12 for shockingly better football competition.

That’s OK, Connecticut and Syracuse play Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals.  These two rivals are both playing great with a storied history (i.e. the 2009 six overtime Big East quarterfinal). That game should be a blast.

That’s probably the last time we will see both of those teams play at Madison Square Garden against each other as well.

Syracuse is heading to the ACC in 2013, but I’m sure they will develop a bitter rivalry with Florida State and Clemson. Where do I get my tickets?

That’s okay, I hated watching Georgetown and Syracuse play football.

But wait, Syracuse is bringing a friend? Pittsburgh is on its way to the ACC as well. So not only is Pitt leaving, but its rival is leaving too. West Virginia and Pitt have all but ended the Backyard Brawl.

Perfect! The geographical distance had no influence on how important that rivalry was. But finally Pittsburgh and West Virginia can expand their schedules and play new opponents, right?

Just wait in 2012 when West Virginia plays Iowa State in the soon-to-be classic annual “What’s on ESPN2” Game. Or when Pittsburgh plays Georgia Tech in the “Layover in Charlotte” Classic.

Sounds awesome.

Football has made the NCAA into a joke. San Diego State and Boise State are now “Big East” schools? I’m pretty sure a map of the continental United States disproves that. Also, can the argument be made that San Diego State is closer to the Middle East than the Big East?

But that’s fine, San Diego State and Boise State are only football schools. Houston, UCF, Memphis, SMU and Temple (the Owls were kicked out of the Big East for not being competitive enough, but what the heck, everyone deserves a second chance) will all join by 2013 as full members.

Finally, get rid of all the talented Big East basketball games and replace them with a larger tournament field and worse competition (does SMU even have a basketball program?).

DePaul has to be the winners of college expansion, because now they get to beat up on these teams that have no business playing in the Big East.

For DePaul it’s like playing an entire Madden 12 season on All-Madden and then immediately shifting to Easy Play.

So enjoy!

It’s the last hurrah for Big East basketball. Not even Doris Burke could make these games interesting.

Enjoy UConn-Syracuse, and be sure to DVR it, because you may never see it again.

Terrence Payne can be reached at tpayne2@springfieldcollege.edu


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