FanPost

A Very Conference USA Final

Somewhere in New York, John Marinatto is dunking a cornetto in his coffee with a huge smile on his face. WVU was chased from the Big East Tournament in its first game by UConn. Pitt was unceremoniously dismissed by Georgetown. And now, Mick Cronin and Cincinnati have freed up Syracuse's Saturday night schedule. All three schools which announced they would be leaving the Big East last fall were deprived of the chance to play for the Big East Championship Saturday, and all three were sent packing by schools which are presently committed to the Big East for the long haul. The only thing that could have made this tournament any better for the Big East brass would be if WVU, Pitt, and Syracuse could have each been bounced by Providence in consecutive rounds. (I know, I know, that would never happen...Providence has only won 3 Big East Tournament games in the last 15 years) The Big East is now guaranteed a 2012 champion who does not have one foot out the door (at least publicly), as well as a BE POY from a school which isn't going anywhere. When you factor in the recent blockbuster addition of Temple, things really seem to be on the uptick for the Big East Conference. I mean, it's not like they just added a school they kicked out less than a decade ago...oh yeah TEMPLE SUCKED SO BAD THAT THE BIG EAST KICKED THEM TO THE CURB!! Moving on now...

Allow me to preface this by saying that I still believe that the Big East will be a first tier basketball conference after WVU, Pitt and Syracuse leave. Some of the additions they've made are very good basketball moves. Memphis is a traditionally relevant and competitive program, with flashes of greatness. Temple, while not the power they were with John Cheney at the helm, is still a very good program. Houston has a rich basketball history. However, as many of the experts who frequent message boards at 3 a.m. have pointed out, this new conference configuration smells of Conference USA 2.0. Tonight's Big East Championship Game Presented by American Eagle Outfitters is a slap in the face to anyone who believes otherwise. As I watched (I use that term loosely, since I almost didn't bother to turn the channel from Dora after my daughter went to bed...sounds like enthralling television, eh?) the semifinals play out, the realization that tonight's matchup could have very easily been held somewhere in the midwest with a Conference USA logo at mid-court began to set in. This actually intrigued me enough that I had to Google "Conference USA Basketball Tournament" just to see how many times this matchup occurred in Conference USA title games. The answer may surprise you...never happened. Even still, could there possibly be a less enticing matchup for the Big East Championship, at least as far as east coast fans are concerned? And don't say DePaul vs USF, because that's just ridiculous. It seems we are getting a sneak preview of the future of the Big East Conference. Great job Marinatto, we know how highly rated those Memphis vs Houston games can be! I'll miss the Big East Tournament, but it's like missing something or someone from your youth. You love the memory and know that if everything could have stayed the same forever, you'd have never left, but everything changes and life moves on, and you just have to learn to love the Big 12 tourney and cherish the memory of what the Big East Tournament used to be. Madison Square Garden cannot make this thing special all by itself.

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