Plan to Form a New Great Midwest College Basketball Conference

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Louisville dance team

The Big East conference has too many college basketball teams. In an ideal situation, each team in a conference plays each other twice, home and away. They can’t: too many teams!

If they did this, each school would have to play 30 conference games!

Ok, then let’s try this: split the Big East into two divisions of eight and play the other seven schools in your division home and away and play the eight schools from the other division once each-four of them at home, four on the road. No, this won’t work either because this still adds up to 22 conference games, which is still too many.

And besides, if you split into divisions, the only logical way to divide them would be into an east and a west and I’m pretty sure schools like UConn, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Villanova, and Georgetown aren’t going to be OK with being all lumped together and forced to play home and home with each other while schools like Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Marquette get shipped west and avoid the “bullies” of the conference.

I have a better solution: DePaul, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Marquette should leave the Big East.

By Adam Satorious

all state arena

At best, they’re an awkward fit for that conference. While Louisville and Marquette have both been to a Final Four in the past decade, neither is routinely dominating the Big East. Cincinnati has shown that they cannot uphold the tradition they had built over the previous 15 or so seasons prior to becoming a member of the Big East.

And DePaul…well, they haven’t won a conference game in nearly two years! Not ONE win!

I’ll take this a step further. Louisville, Marquette, Cincinnati, and DePaul should join forces with Xavier, Dayton, St. Louis, Memphis, Butler, and one other school-perhaps Charlotte, Valparaiso, or Alabama-Birmingham, and create a 10-school conference that would be all urban campuses (exception Valparaiso) with similar athletic departments, many with historical rivalries with each other.

Louisville and Cincinnati could remain in the Big East as football members and Memphis and UAB (if chosen) could remain in Conference USA for football purposes. With 10 members for basketball, it would be easily possible to play a full, round robin home and away schedule against every other school in the conference.

Think about it-these are all Midwestern schools (except Charlotte and UAB, should one of them be chosen to join) so the travel would be cut down. Fans in cities with close proximity would be able to enjoy rivalries that don’t span half the country, making it much easier to travel to away games. I’m pretty sure not many Marquette or Louisville fans currently make the trek to UConn to watch their teams play, but traveling to Memphis, St. Louis, or Indianapolis would seem much more likely. Personally, I miss the days of the old Great Midwest Conference. I used to love watching Marquette, DePaul, Cincinnati, Memphis and other schools from the Midwest slug it out with each other. I always thought Louisville would have made a great member for that old league.

These are all basketball schools, as many schools in the Big East are also, but they have no geographic ties to those schools nor do most of their athletic departments have near the budgets that most of those schools do. Some of these schools offer football but none of them are consistently strong on the gridiron and basketball gets much more exposure at these schools than football.

Imagine a conference tournament at the end of the season that rotated sites in the different cities represented within this league. Fans could travel from each of the cities to root on their hometown team. Look at how well attended the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament is each year. I’ll bet this new conference could do as well or better!

Think also of the proximity of many of the potential rivalries within this new conference: Marquette (Milwaukee)-DePaul (Chicago), DePaul-St. Louis, DePaul-Butler (Indianapolis), Cincinnati-Xavier (also in Cincinnati)-Dayton, St. Louis-Memphis, St. Louis-Louisville, Louisville-Memphis, Louisville-Cincinnati/Xavier/Dayton, Butler-Cincinnati/Xavier/Dayton. WOW!!!

And if Valparaiso were included, they would have geographic proximity to DePaul and Butler. This just seems like such a win-win for everyone involved. Let’s get moving on it right away!

But of course, as it always does, it comes down to money. Louisville, Marquette, Cincinnati, and DePaul are all a part of the conglomeration known as the Big East and with the Big East comes big bucks, as in TV money, especially for Louisville and Cincinnati because of their football programs.

Despite the ability to perhaps stay in the Big East for football, it seems unlikely that they would depart in all other sports and give up all that East Coast TV money. I know the likelihood of this new conference ever coming to fruition is slim, maybe non-existent, but I just can’t help but think about how great it would be in so many ways!

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