The new Big East has a leg up on other basketball leagues that don’t have major college football. That’s clear. Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s and even Butler and Xavier are established basketball brands.
The resumes of the league's coaches, though, may be a bit lacking compared to the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12.
One thing is pretty clear about the new Big East: Projecting the league is going to be difficult.
Georgetown and Marquette tied for the Big East title in the old conference, but both teams lose key players. Villanova, which defeated Georgetown and Marquette late last season, brings back most of its key players. Creighton won the Missouri Valley and has most of its roster intact, including the top player in the league.
There are many reasons why fans gravitate to the college ranks over the professional ones. For those of us who love college sports, NCAA basketball is a vastly superior product over the NBA. Yes, the NBA features the best athletes in the world playing the game, but many point to a boring regular season, lack of overall defense and me-first holier than thou attitude that comes with million-dollar salaries.
Aside from the turmoil caused by conference realignment, the Big East has continued some familiar trends: Syracuse continues to be among the national elite with a bench player taking his turn in the spotlight, Louisville continues to be a defensive pest, and Georgetown is at its best when no one expects big things out of the Hoyas.
But the league has its share of surprises, such as Cincinnati’s ascent and a flop of a season for Florida State.
What would recent Final Fours be without Butler and VCU? And how boring would college football be without coaches like Lane Kiffin and Pat Fitzgerald.
There’s an intriguing youth movement afoot in college sports where Butler’s Brad Stevens and VCU’s Shaka Smart, both under the age of 40, have reached the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament and subsequently turn down big-time jobs to continue building their mid-major programs.