The Big East conference has been known for its high-octane, scrappy men’s basketball conference since its inception in 1979. Throughout its time, it has been one of the most notable basketball conferences in the country, featuring star players that eventually went on to impressive NBA careers and teams that won NCAA Tournament come March.
In recent years the Big East has started to fade out of importance due to conference realignment back in 2013. In the eyes of many casual college basketball fans, this stems from some of the prominent major programs such as Connecticut, Louisville and Syracuse jumping ship.
This is not to say that the Big East Conference is not relevant. Any avid follower of the conference or college basketball knows that the conference is better than ever in terms of intensity, competitiveness and team talent. This year the conference is more up in the air than ever, especially outside of possibly the top two spots.
National champion Villanova will see an increased amount of coverage this season after taking it all home in dramatic fashion over North Carolina in arguably one of the greatest college basketball finishes ever.
Villanova, getting a greater look this year because of its success, should ultimately bring more coverage to a conference that desperately deserves it. The Big East does not nearly see enough coverage on ESPN/ABC networks among the other power conferences, with the Big 12, ACC and even SEC getting the bulk of the attention. While all of these conferences boast storied programs, people often forget that the Big East does the same.
The Big East is not a one-team conference in terms of one team being substantially better than the rest, though Seton Hall won the conference championship and went to the NCAA Tournament this past year. Isaiah Whitehead, drafted into the NBA by the Brooklyn Nets, has boosted the Pirates’ relevancy.
Additionally, there are several other teams that have spring boarded to become household names.
Xavier has risen to national stardom within the past couple of years more than any other team, highlighted by their success on the national stage. The Muskateers have been able to use that success to build a strong program that has years of potential tournament runs to come, due in part to the talent it has as well as the talent it will get for being a household name.
Because of their success at the mid-major level, Creighton and Butler both have sustained large followings and reputations throughout their moves to the Big East. Both have produced strong pro players, including Doug McDermott and Gordon Hayward, respectively. By consistently performing well and making a name for themselves on the national stage, these types of schools can play themselves into becoming more reputable.
The college basketball fan knows, however, where the Big East lies in terms of the national spotlight, and that position is vastly underwhelming. One can only hope that the conference can, and that teams get the attention they rightfully deserves.
Matt Lamb is a broadcasting and visual media major from Howell, N.J. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.