Big East M5: 11.19.12 EditionPosted by Will Tucker on November 19th, 2012
- It’s a sad state of affairs in college sports when the most urgent news is determined in a boardroom rather than a gym or stadium. Just when it appeared as though the Machiavellian engineering of conference realignment had subsided for long enough for fans to actually enjoy a full season, we learned over the weekend that Maryland will likely become the next shoe to drop when its Board of Regents deliberates whether to move to the Big Ten this morning at 9 AM. Pete Thamel reiterated in Sports Illustrated last night that Rutgers will join the Terrapins in the corn-fed dominion of Legends and Leaders. According to his media sources, the rationale for the Scarlet Knight’s inclusion is the $100 million annual windfall promised by the expansion of the Big Ten Network onto cable packages in the New York City market. But one executive issued a warning that should resonate with any fan who’s ever searched for a New York bar screening a college game before March: “Hey, it could be big money… But it’s a lot of risk. Rutgers isn’t the Yankees.”
- While it would be a bummer to lose Rutgers, their move could accelerate a far more calamitous result for the Big East if Connecticut is tabbed to replace Maryland in the ACC. The departure would exacerbate a year of chaotic discontinuity for the Big East and completely undermine any bargaining leverage the conference currently wields in its media negotiations. On an experiential level, it would make Big East basketball a lot less fun to follow, with few remaining powerhouses and very little remaining tradition to unify the disjointed reaches of the ragtag Big East tapestry. John Rook at The UConn Blog touches on these points and reflects on the commercial desecration of hollowed college basketball icons from the nuanced perspective of a fan of a school that is, ostensibly, benefiting from this sea change. Rook makes the point that realignment destroys not only traditional rivalries and geographic continuity, but also erases individual program’s accomplishments from our collective memory: “Now, if the Big East no longer exists, UConn’s dominance over it matters less. Do you know how many Conference USA titles Louisville has? Neither do I. You know why? Now that they are in the Big East all that matters is what they do in this conference. The moment UConn goes to the ACC they are no longer the dominant program of the Big East but simply the really good program with no ACC titles.”
- Big East teams face two high-profile non-conference tests away from home tonight, as Georgetown takes on #13 UCLA in Brooklyn and Marquette meets Butler in the Maui Invitational. The Hoyas’ odds of pulling off the upset took a hit last Friday when the NCAA cleared star freshman Shabazz Muhammad to suit up for the Bruins. Despite not stepping on the court yet this season, teammate Kyle Anderson predicts Muhammad won’t miss a beat, “because in practice, he’s a beast.” The Hoyas’ wings will have their work cut out for them defensively.
- Marquette, for its part, looks to avoid a letdown when it plays a Butler team coming off a crushing defeat against Xavier. Cracked Sidewalks put together a very cogent explanation of why the game is such a watershed moment: a loss could spell “a neutral court loss to a non-top 50 team come Selection Sunday, and would saddle MUs RPI with the record of consolation opponent Mississippi State (#132 in Value Add).” A first-round stumble would also deprive Marquette of a shot at North Carolina in the winner’s bracket.
- Last Friday, the M5 mentioned four-star Union, NJ, forward Tyler Robinson’s impending college decision between Syracuse, Villanova and Kansas. Robinson ultimately cast his lot with Boeheim’s crew, which came as somewhat of a surprise after his final visit to Villanova seemed positive enough to inspire him to cancel a scheduled recruiting trip to Lexington. Robinson cited Boeheim’s coaching reputation and the program’s upcoming move to the ACC as major attractions in committing to the Orange. Syracuse appears poised to reload with what’s sure to be another top-15 recruiting class, highlighted by Robinson and four/five-star point guard Tyler Ennis.