Many Big East fans will always remember the year 2013: The year that was a new beginning for the conference.
This was the inception of the “new” Big East. No longer did large schools with rich traditions such as Syracuse, Notre Dame, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Connecticut call the conference their home. Many people thought that the glory days were over as the “Catholic 7” schools, which included Villanova, Seton Hall, St. John’s, DePaul, Providence, Marquette and Georgetown, who would be joined by Xavier, Butler and Creighton.
Most believed that this would lead to the demise the conference, as all of the major FBS programs had left in search of football money. The perception that the Big East could no longer compete with the elites in college basketball changed last year when Kris Jenkins hit his historic 3-pointer as time expired against North Carolina to hand the Villanova Wildcats the National Championship. It was a friendly reminder to the college basketball world that the Big East is still a force to be reckoned with.
Seton Hall captured last year’s conference title at Madison Square Garden in an electrifying run to the championship that ended in an instant classic affair against Villanova, solidifying the fact that the depth of the Big East runs extraordinarily deep.
By no means has the conference taken its foot off of the gas pedal to begin this season. In the latest AP poll, four Big East teams were featured in the Top 20. These teams included Villanova, Xavier and Creighton who are all in the Top 10, with Butler coming in at number 18.
The Big East is usually cited as being overrated, because many people claim Big East teams play weak out of conference schedules, and then once they get to March the top teams all make early exits from the tournament. While this may be true some years, we are a few weeks into the college basketball season and the conference leaders have shown that they can play with nation’s top teams.
Here we will look at some of the top teams along with their big wins up until this point.
Jay Wright has the defending national champions playing up to expectations at this point with 4 wins against top 50 RPI teams, one on the road against Big Ten contender Purdue.
How good can Xavier be? No one really knows. But if Myles Davis returns to this team at some point this season, the Final Four is very well within reach for the Musketeers. It is scary to think with J.P. Macura, Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett already who have guided Xavier to win the Tire Pros Invitational and are undefeated up until this point, might be joined by Myles Davis. The Musketeers will be tested Saturday as they travel to Waco take on ninth-ranked Baylor.
Creighton has simply been playing phenomenal ball early on this season. The Bluejays have been led by arguably the best guard combo in the nation in Marcus Foster and Mo Watson. Creighton has eclipsed the 100-point mark twice this season, not to mention one of the games was against two possible NCAA tournament teams in NC State and Ole Miss. This is an offense that will give any team nightmares.
Not much can be said about Butler other than the words “Chris Holtmann”. Year in and year out, Holtmann gets the best out of his players. Butler consistently finds a way to win games every year, and the Bulldogs are just coming off of very big wins against Arizona and Utah.
There you have it. The conference has been very successful up until this point early in the nonconference schedule. Seton Hall and Georgetown are two programs with the talent to compete with any of these teams on any given night but just have to learn how to put it all together on a consistent basis.
Though it’s still early, when it’s all said and done at the end of the season the Big East could be a conference with six of its 10 teams dancing in the tournament.
The notion that the Big East is no longer a force to be reckoned with can finally be laid to rest as the conference has shown its supremacy in the nonconference slate.