Conference realignment continues to alter the landscape of college athletics, and the Big East has been the conference most affected by these changes. Because of the massive shakeup in the conference, this will be the last year that fans with Big East Tournament tickets will be able to see many of these teams competing against one another. The conference’s seven Catholic universities, not including Notre Dame, will be leaving the current Big East after this season and forming a new conference, keeping the Big East name in the process. Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, St. John’s, Providence, DePaul and Seton Hall take with them not only some of the best basketball talent in the country, but a wealth of history and traditional as well. The holdovers from the current Big East (Rutgers, Louisville, South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati) will be part of a completely new conference next year. Even Rutgers and Louisville are not part of the long-term plans for the new conference, as the Scarlet Knights are heading to the Big Ten and the Cardinals are moving to the ACC in 2014. Cincinnati, South Florida and UConn will be joined by Memphis, Houston, SMU, Temple and UCF in 2013, followed by East Carolina and Tulane in 2014.
With so much change looming on the horizon for one of the country’s marquee basketball conferences, this year’s Big East Tournament holds extra meaning. Georgetown, Louisville and Marquette remain tied atop the conference standings with identical 13-4 records heading into the final regular season game of the season. The Hoyas own the tiebreaker against the Cardinals, but they also have the toughest opponent this weekend in Syracuse, so Georgetown needs to play well this weekend in order to lock up the No. 1 seed in the tournament. Of course, a number of teams could get hot in the tournament and pull off a few upsets along the way. Whoever ends up cutting down the nets at MSG will be the last champion of the Big East as we know it, so the battle for the trophy should be even more spectacular than usual.
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