Despite the loss of teams like Syracuse, Notre Dame, Louisville, Connecticut and the rivalries that came and went with the old Big East, there is still some bad blood with the current crop of conference foes. We countdown the top-5 in conference rivalries in the current Big East.
Many people close to the rivalry call it the "Dominicans vs. Augustinians." This difference in religious practices provides the spark to this rivalry in addition to the fact they have been playing each other since the conference was formed. Villanova won both regular season meetings last year but with the Big East tournament title in the hands of the Friars, expect Nova to be fighting hard to knock them off this upcoming season.
4) St. John’s Red Storm vs. Seton Hall Pirates
The Hall and the Johnnies are two of the original "Catholic 7" that started the famed Big East Conference and have been battling each other ever since. This rivalry is bigger on the local level as it has more of a New York vs. New Jersey kind of feel. However, with Seton Hall’s rise and prized shooting guard recruit Isaiah Whitehead choosing the Pirates over the Red Storm, this clash will likely get even more heated when the two teams meet up this upcoming season.
3) Butler Bulldogs vs. Xavier Musketeers
Initially, when examining these two programs one has to think, "Why are these two teams rivals?" These two schools were founders of the Horizon League, originally the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. They then followed each other into the Atlantic-10 and now find themselves in the same conference again in the Big East. It is safe to say that playing each other constantly has provided some tension between the two programs.
2) St. John’s Red Storm vs. Georgetown Hoyas
This rivalry has taken center stage at the Big East tournament multiple times, as the two foes have met frequently at Madison Square Garden when the lights have shined the brightest. Some of the conferences’ best players, like Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin among others, have squared off in this game. Many Big East titles have been won and lost between the two, which is why it ranks so high on this list.
This rivalry produced "The Sweater Game" on February 27th, 1985. It was the final regular season game between the #1 ranked "Redmen" and the #2 ranked Hoyas. Throughout much of the season, St. John’s head coach Lou Carnesecca had worn a lucky sweater and it brought his team good luck. The Johnnies had built a winning streak before they met Georgetown. Little did Carnesecca know, Georgetown coach, John Thompson II, had a surprise waiting for him and the fans at MSG. Thompson wore his own lucky sweater under his jacket and revealed it to crowd and MSG loved the humor. This streak would be snapped and it would not be the same between these two teams that season. Georgetown went on to win the game 85-69 and later go on to defeat St. John’s in the conference title game as well as the Final Four.
1) Georgetown Hoyas vs. Villanova Wildcats
Another two of original Big East schools tops the list of the conference’s best rivalries. This rivalry is responsible for the greatest upset in NCAA Tournament history. Wildcats head Coach Ed Pinckney’s team were a 9-seed coming into the 1985 NCAA Tournament, and as I mentioned above, the Hoyas were no slouch. They had Patrick Ewing, who is arguably the greatest player in the conference’s history. Pinckney’s team had what current Nova head Coach Jay Wright called, "the perfect night," and knocked off the #1 seeded Hoyas in the title game. They not only defeated Goliath, they threw even more fuel into the fire of this fierce rivalry.
The heyday of the Big East Conference may be in the rearview mirror, but that does not mean conference play will be diminished. With the influx of talent and the history between the teams in the current conference, there is still plenty of hate to go around. These are games that must be marked down on any fan’s calendar and will not disappoint when the regular season rolls around.
What's your favorite rivalry in the CURRENT incarnation of the Big East? Take our poll and tell us who your favorite Big East foes are in the comments below.