News broke last night that the remaining, Catholic, basketball schools in the Big East are going to break off of the league and go their own way.
SI is reporting that Villanova, Marquette, Georgetown, St. Johns, Providence, Seton Hall and DePaul are looking to grab A-10 members: Xavier, Butler, Dayton, and St. Louis and Creighton from the MVC to create a new league.
Call it the rebirth of the MCC with a little east coast flair. I'm shocked St. Joe's and St. Bonneventure weren't targets of this league, but as it stands, they've got a very solid 12 team lineup. Since 7 of those schools have been competing together for more than 5 years, they will be granted an automatic bid to the tournament.
I grew up in Milwaukee, going to Marquette games in the Hank Raymonds & Doc Rivers era. I attended ND before the BigEast, when we played a mostly MCC slate, and I lived in Cincinnati for 15 years, surrounded by Xavier, Dayton and Butler. Despite now hating them because of the jobbing we got in the tournament last year (still bitter), Xavier is a fun place to watch a ball game (gangsta comments notwithstanding). With no football to cheer for, I witnessed first hand just how enthusiastic these student bodies and alumni are for their basketball programs.
With that background, there's a big part of me that is sad not to see ND in that roster of teams. The natural rivalries, geographic footprint, and style of basketball would be perfect for the Irish. It is nostalgic to think of the old battles between ND and Marquette, and the rivalry with Georgetown that has developed is so much fun. Presidents love to talk about "institutional fit," and there would be no better fit than this new league.
Of course, that's just nostalgia. If you step back and look beyond hoops to the full roster of ND athletics, sports like Soccer and LAX are perfect fits in the ACC. Jack Swarbrick's move was masterful and follows population trends and demographic shifts perfectly. I'm concerned with ND's basketball remaining competitive in the ACC, but many of us said the same thing 20'ish years ago when they went to the BigEast.
In an odd case of things coming full circle, my family is the perfect example of the trend Swarbrick was following. About 2 years ago, we moved from Cincinnati to Cary, NC. Living with 4 ACC schools within an hour of my home has led to a tremendous appreciation for this league and how well ND will mesh with the existing member schools. Selfishly, I'm thrilled with the prospect of multiple ND sports making numerous trips to the area every year.
Time marches on for all of us, and while nostalgia would long for the days of David Rivers and Digger facing down Doc and Hank, this move is a great one for ND. We owe the remaining BigEast hoops schools a debt of gratitude for this maneuver, as it is likely to make ND's move to the ACC a lot quicker and cheaper.