Saturday, July 16, 2011

How Should Big East Re-align?

Rick Pitino mentioned that the Big East may need to look at splitting into two divisions when TCU arrives next summer. His point being that in basketball, there are tons of scheduling quirks that are really not fair (note: Louisville has quite a slate this coming season).

Let me be clear: I think that no basketball league should be in divisions. The Big East will just schedule an 18-game season where you play the other 16 teams once and two of them twice. If they expand again, I can see playing everyone once and one "rival" twice.

But there is some buzz about trying to split into two divisions. The obvious way to split is the way Pitino mentioned -- football schools in one division and non-football schools in the other.

I: Cincinnati, Louisville, Pitt, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, TCU, UConn, West Virginia
II: DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, Villanova

There are flaws in this, however. For one, the I division has nine teams while II has eight teams. If they hold a true round-robin, then one division plays 16 games while the other plays 14. Also, some rivalries would be broken (but, hey, that's what all this football movement has done to basketball all over the place anyways).

Not to mention that Division I would lose their trips to St. John's and Seton Hall ... meaning Rutgers would be their lone link to the NYC area. They'd also miss out on Georgetown, DePaul and Villanova which means they'd be without a footing in D.C., Chicago and Philadelphia. Division II would miss out on the addition of TCU (Texas area). It just doesn't make sense.

But how else could you realign? Geography? Possibly but you'd still come up with those same issues.

WEST: Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pitt, South Florida, TCU, West Virginia
EAST: Georgetown, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John's, Syracuse, UConn, Villanova

Again, the West would miss out on the NYC, D.C. and Philly areas and the unbalanced schedule remains. It would also split up Pitt from the rest of the old school members. Hmmm.

How about this realignment?

I: Georgetown, Pitt, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, Syracuse, UConn, Villanova
II: Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Rutgers, South Florida, TCU, West Virginia

If you didn't notice, the Division I would corral up the old school members (the bulk of the first half of the Big East's life) while the Division II would house all the "expansion" schools. Again, there are quirks to this just like all of the scenarios.

Last one. To kind of rid the whole "region" thing ... let's split everyone up:

I: Cincinnati, DePaul, Georgetown, Pitt, Providence, South Florida, St. John's, Syracuse
II: Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Seton Hall, TCU, UConn, Villanova, West Virginia

There's no rhyme or reason why I put whom where. I did try to split up those "areas" so everyone gets some sort of shot. DePaul-Marquette? Split so that each team has a shot at that area.

See, it's hard to get this worked out in a fair way. Just add an 18th school, have a round robin of playing everyone once but your rival twice. It's the most fair deal.

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