The big news over the weekend was that the Catholic 7 — Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul — made the official announcement that they would be leaving the Big East.
It’s a crushing blow for folks that grew up on college hoops in the Northeast, but it’s something that we all saw coming miles away.
There are still plenty of legalities and logistics (someone call UPS!) to work out regarding the future of these seven schools — and of the programs that will be scooped up in an effort to get to ten or twelve teams — but the one thing that I thought we all could agree upon is that college hoops will forever be different in Big East country. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, and this league isn’t destined to become the next Patriot League, but it certainly isn’t on par with what the Big East was as recently as 2009 (when they got three No. 1 seeds) or 2011 (when 11 teams made the tournament).
Apparently, no one told Jay Wright.
“I think it could be the best basketball conference in the country,” Wright told CSN Philly. “If you look at, top to bottom, who had got the best teams top to bottom, it could be the best.”
I understand coachspeak and spin and all that, but there is simply no way that Jay Wright truly believes what he just said.
In the not-so-distant future, his Villanova program is headed for a conference where the majority of the progams — St. John’s, Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul — haven’t been relevant for at least a decade, maybe more. His Villanova team has been on a downswing since somewhere around January 2010, and losing the affiliation with the Big East isn’t exactly going to make Andrew Wiggins want to put the Wildcats on his list.
There are two healthy programs currently associated with the Catholic 7: Georgetown and Marquette. Marquette isn’t currently ranked in the top 25 and Georgetown had a three game stretch this season where they averaged 48.3 points.
That’s better than the ACC, which will eventually includes Duke, UNC, Syracuse and Louisville, among many other? Or the Big Ten, where Michigan State is a top 15 team and the sixth-best team in the league? That group may not even be a top eight conference, not with how strong the MWC, the WCC and the MVC are.
The reason that the Catholic 7 are targeting programs like Butler, Xavier, Creighton and VCU has less to do with filling out a full conference roster than it does adding quality programs to remain relevant nationally.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.