Looking like Catholic 7 schools gone after this season
It looks as if we are reaching the end of an era with reports that DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova will be breaking off on their own beginning next season although they aren't exactly leaving the Big East since multiple reports have them keeping the Big East name.
Now it bears watching what Louisville, Notre Dame and Rutgers plan on doing. Originally they were expected to remain in the Big East for next season before heading off to greener pastures (Rutgers to the Big 10, Notre Dame and Louisville to the ACC). However it would not be a shocker to see their departures moved up by a season.
If that were to occur the days of UConn being in arguably the best women's basketball conference would come to an end (unless the ACC were to come calling).
"Every school is committed to making it happen, whether that's on a super-compressed timeline or a little bit less compressed timeline," Marquette athletic director Larry Williams told the Chicago Tribune "Even if it starts next summer, there's still a lot of work to do. If it's going to happen this summer? There are going to be some real, real long days. But I think everybody is committed to doing it."
ESPN is reporting that Butler and Xavier have agreed to join the league, which will keep the Big East name, and Creighton is also expected to join for next season.
If Louisville and Notre Dame bolt for the ACC next season as well and Rutgers leaves a season early for the Big 10 UConn will be left even further behind in the conference realignment game. Big East holdovers Cincinnati and South Florida will join Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist and Temple with the possibility of bringing in East Carolina and Tulane later this year rather than in 2014.
So with the current version of the Big East on the verge of implosion, Geno Auriemma was asked after Tuesday's Pittsburgh game if it would mean more to win the regular-season and tournament titles in the Big East this year since there is no way of knowing what the makeup of UConn's conference will look like next season.
"I don't know if it would mean anymore or any less," Auriemma said. "Whatever conference you are in you are trying to win the regular season and that is the No. 1 goal you would like to accomplish. The fact that there are a bunch of schools that may or may not (leave), we know who is not going to be here but we don't know who may or may not be here next year. Between the regular season and the tournament, we are still in the same place we were a couple years ago, we have seven or eight teams that are going to make the NCAA tournament and it is hard to win that thing. It is hard to win the regular season and it is hard to win the tournament. I said a couple years ago when we lost to Villanova and then we lost Boston College in back to back years (in the Big East tournament) and then we won a national championship both of those years that it is a lot easier to win a national championship than it is to win our own tournament. I don't think this year is going to be any different."
So how could it look next year? Well there are seven teams on their way out with RPIs between No. 4-50 (UConn has the second best RPI).
Just for comparison purposes, here is how the Big East stacks up this year in terms of RPI numbers and how it could look if all those teams depart at season's end.
4 Notre Dame 57 SMU
21 Louisville 58. South Florida
22 Villanova 78 East Carolina
27 DePaul 91 Tulane
37 Syracuse 110 Memphis
40 St. John's 126 Temple
50 Georgetown 146 Central Florida
58. South Florida 163 Houston
61. Marquette 166 Cincinnati