The End Of The Big East, MCW And Gotham
There’s been plenty of news since the last post, so this is as good a time as any to catch up as Finals Week ends today.
- For some, the end of the Big East came in 2003, when Louisville, Marquette, Cincinnati, South Florida and DePaul joined the league. For others, it came as Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and later Louisville boarded their lifeboats. For many, though, reality set in with Thursday’s announcement of the basketball-first programs’ intentions to break away from the Big East was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I thought it would be a slower bleed as UConn, Rutgers and Cincinnati groped for the emergency exit (and still are), but yesterday’s gash will be fatal to the conference as we know it. I have all the faith in the world that whatever combination of the “Catholic 7,” A-10, Missouri Valley and other programs ultimately emerges will be competitive, fun to watch and relevant, but I also echo the sentiments of many that it just won’t be the same. The Orange are about as safe as it can be in the ACC, but at the same time, it’s hard not to feel a little bit dusty as the league that did so much for so many schools has essentially been put out of its misery. It’s beyond unfortunate that the mothership in Providence lacked the foresight needed to keep the league afloat, but that ship sailed years ago.
- While the Twitterverse took the news solemnly, it seems lost on many that there are still four months left to go at this party before the lights come on and the music stops. This season, the conference right up there with the Big Ten, and it’s especially strong and balanced at the top. Syracuse, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Georgetown are a combined 50-4, with the losses coming against Indiana, Michigan, Duke, and St. Joseph’s, and all away from their home courts. As always, conference play will provide the perspective needed to determine the true juggernauts of the Big East, and the middle will be competitive as always, but the early returns at the top of the league have been fantastic.
- It’s tough to write a post without mentioning Michael Carter-Williams’ outstanding play this season. Eventually, we’re going to start running out of ways to describe it, but not anytime soon. It seems like every night, he does something we haven’t seen out of him, but at the same time, he’s been remarkably consistent especially considering how high a level he’s playing at. After Thursday’s action, there are still 36 teams with fewer assists than Carter-Williams’ 83 on the year, and of those 36 teams, four have played more games than Syracuse. It goes without saying that MCW is on pace to have one of the best seasons in program history, but Sherman Douglas’ single-season records of 326 assists and 8.6 per game, set in the 1988-89 season, are on high alert until further notice.
- While the realignment news was plentiful throughout the week, the action on the court was slow as final exams led me to spend the week cleaning out my DVR. Games resume this weekend, and the Orange will take on Canisius before facing, Detroit, Temple and Alcorn State to round out the calendar year. Initially, I was upset to hear that the event involves an RPI anchor in the form of Alcorn State, but you just have to accept that it’s the cost of throwing in a competitive matchup like Temple in a favorable environment at Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile, Detroit has improved slightly from last season, but not enough to make them a threat, and Canisius, despite a 6-1 record, hasn’t proved much at all.