I love Big East Basketball. It has arguably been the premier college basketball conference for many years. As of the date of this post, only 1 of its 15 current basketball members (South Florida) have never reached the NCAA Basketball Men's Final Four. No other Division I conference can boast a higher percentage of teams that have reached the Basketball's Final Four. Rivalries such as Georgetown-Syracuse, Syracuse-UConn, and Villanova-Georgetown have made the Big East a truly special conference. Unfortunately for the Big East, College Football not College Basketball is what dictates college sports at the Division I level. It's College Football that can bring the most revenue to schools. In order to increase revenue, many of the Big East Traditional basketball powers are leaving the Big East. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Louisville are heading to the ACC. West Virginia has already left the Big East for the Big 12. A couple of more schools (Connecticut and Cincinnati) will leave if the "right" football conference includes them in their expansion plans. Heck, even Rutgers, though not a traditional basketball power, is heading to the Big 10. In order to maintain a football conference, the Big East will replace (or at least are scheduled to replace) the departing schools with Temple, Memphis, Central Florida, Houston SMU and Tulane in all sports and East Carolina, Navy, Boise State and San Diego State in football. Furthermore, with the Big East losing its automatic qualifying BCS bid in football, it's not entirely certain that Navy, Boise State and San Diego State will join the Big East. The Big East that many of us knew is gone, replaced by Conference USA-Big East "Frankenconference". Tulane vs. Villanova and Providence vs. Houston will now be considered Big East battles. DePaul-SMU will be a possible Big East tournament match-up at Madison Square Garden. There is a way to salvage the Big East as a strong basketball conference. However to achieve this goal, it will have to go to its roots. It has to once again become a conference of primarily basketball-centric private institutions, with a strong eastern presence. How? 1) The basketball-centric schools should divorce itself from the football-playing schools and form it's own conference. Hopefully it can carry the Big East moniker. The schools involved in this exodus would be the following: Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Marquette and DePaul. 2) This new conference should immediately expand including a number of solid Atlantic 10 basketball programs that are generally private institutions in medium to large markets. The following schools that the new conference should include are the following: St. Joseph's, VCU (which just joined the A-10), Xavier, Dayton, Butler (which also just joined the A-10), St. Bonaventure and Duquesne. Some may be scratching their heads at the last two schools mentioned. We'll discuss this later. 3) Set up a two division format with "East" and "West" divisions. The divisions would be as follows... East Providence St. John's Seton Hall St. Joseph's Villanova Georgetown VCU West Marquette DePaul Butler Xavier Dayton Duquesne St. Bonaventure 4. Each team would play a 20 game in-conference schedule. Teams in the same division would play each other twice (home and away) and would play teams in the other division once, except for one team in the other division, where they would play each other twice. They would be a "married-pair". 5. There would be conference tournament at the end of the year in Madison Square Garden involving 12 of the 14 teams. The worst team in each division would not be invited to the tournament. As it is currently set up, the Big East has teams in the following markets: Providence, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay. Under this expansion plan, you would lose only Tampa Bay and Central NY. It would be replaced by Indianapolis (Butler) and Western NY (St. Bonaventure). WhyDuquesneandSt. Bonaventure? Duquesne is in Pittsburgh so the conference would maintain a presence in that sizeable market. Duquesne is not Pitt in terms of tradition, but is a private school fielding a basketball team in a medium-sized market. It has a basketball rivalry with Pitt and is a player in Pittsburgh's college basketball landscape. It has little aspiration of fielding a FBS football team so it fits the profile of a basketball-centric school. St. Bonaventure is located in Western New York. Western NY is a larger market than Central NY. It's traditionally centered around Buffalo though Rochester is another major city in the region. Bona is part of the Big 4, which is Western NY's version of Philadelphia's Big 5. While St. Bonaventure is no Syracuse in terms of tradition, it would help the conference maintain a presence in upstate NY. Like Duquesne, Bona is a private school that is a player on the college basketball landscape in a medium-sized market. It also has little aspirations of fielding a FBS football team. Finally adding these two schools would enable teams near the east coast to stay in the same division. A number of old Big East rivalries would continue to be played home-and-away. Conclusion In short, this would be the Big East 3.0. Big East 1.0 was the original conference centered solely on basketball. Big East 2.0 was the basketball conference that was attempting to become a major football conference. This version of the Big East would be a basketball-centric conference in Eastern and Midwestern markets. It would feature a number of private institutions in major markets that would be basketball-centric. The geographic footprint would be more manageable and compact. A number of traditional rivalries would be played more frequently. With St. Joe's in the conference, new rivalries may commence with a number of the original Big East schools. VCU which is only 100 miles south of DC may become a new rival of Georgetown. Games between Xavier, Dayton, Marquette, Butler and perhaps DePaul may become particularly intriguing battles.