After a long wait and less than a month before practice begins, the Big East finally released their conference schedule for the 2014-2015 season on Tuesday afternoon.
The schedule is highlighted once again by a New Year’s Eve marathon where the league will play a quintuple-header, beginning at noon and ending right around midnight ET, with every member of the 10-team conference taking part.
The highlight of the New Year’s Eve double-header? Georgetown paying a visit to Xavier in the nightcap, a 10 p.m. tip, which isn’t exactly the kind of powerhouse matchup that would convince people to put away the champagne and stay home from the party to watch the game.
And therein lies the problem with the Big East in its current form. There are good teams in this conference — Villanova will be in the top 15 while Georgetown, Xavier, Providence, St. John’s and even Seton Hall have the pieces to push for an at-large bid — but there isn’t the kind of national draw you’ll find in other conferences. Their fans are passionate, but there just isn’t the same kind of national appeal for a program like Villanova or Georgetown, the Big East’s flag-carriers, that there is for Duke or Louisville or Kentucky (or Arizona, Kansas, UCLA, North Carolina, etc).
The Big East will be competitive and entertaining, but with a lack of national star power and a number of programs rebuilding (Marquette, Creighton, Butler), what will make people care about the conference outside of Big East cities like Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Milwaukee?
In other words, who is the best player in the conference? Who replaces Doug McDermott as the guy you’ll watch every time he plays? Look at this schedule. What matchup makes you say, “I’m watching that regardless of what else is on”? Any of them?
That’s not a good thing.