The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

BULLOCK: The great Big East debate

Sometimes change is a good thing.

I can think of an example, just give me a second. (Staring off into space with furrowed brow.) All right, I've got one: Kevin Garnett leaving my beloved Minny for the C's and an eventual championship. I know I'm starting to sound like Bill Simmons by always talking about my hometown team, but it's a great example.

Here is another one: the Big East expanding conference play from 16 games to 18 games. Some might disagree. In fact, I know some disagree. But in my mind, two more conference games would fall under the classification of a "good thing."

"I want to see our teams and our coaches and our players succeed," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "I think the 18-game schedule is prohibitive."

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the Big East teams had 18 chances to beat up on each other. In those days Marquette, Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati and DePaul all dominated Conference USA, and Dwyane Wade strolled the halls of Harold L. Richards High School.

Before the 1998-'99 season, the Big East scaled down its schedule a bit. Then, last season, the league returned to the 18-game format. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the expansion of conference games came the same year the league signed a six-year deal with ESPN to televise all of its games.

Nevertheless, a number of coaches have expressed their disapproval with the 18-game schedule in recent weeks.

Calhoun, of course, has been by far the biggest opponent. The Hall of Fame coach believes that so many conference games will hurt (and have already hurt) Big East teams later in the NCAA Tournament and in earning a bid for the NCAA Tournament.

"I disagree with the 18 games," he said. "I think we're paying too great a price of our teams, and we're 24-2. We're probably going to the NCAA tournament. I'm not moaning. I'm looking at it…from a guy who's 23 years in the league and loves the league and wants to see every team have a fair chance."

Calhoun argued that for teams like Georgetown and Notre Dame, which are suddenly bubble teams for the tournament, two less conference games would mean two more wins, thus making it more likely that the Big East would send more teams to the tournament.

Here is what I think, and I'll assume, since you are reading my column, you want to know what I think. I think, with all due respect to one of the greatest college coaches of all time, Mr. Calhoun is being a little selfish.

Georgetown and Notre Dame will make the tournament but it may be as a 13 seed instead of the eight or nine seed they might have earned if they replaced two conference games with two freebies. Moving down in the seeding will allow some smaller schools that are perhaps more talented (but often overlooked because they come from mid-major conferences) to take that eight seed, giving them a better chance of realizing their tournament potential.

Everyone likes Cinderella stories, myself included, and if a traditional Big East powerhouse has to suffer for that to happen, then maybe they should step it up. There is, after all, an easy way to solve this problem — win.

So is change good for the Big East? Maybe not. But is it good for college basketball? I'm going to go with a resounding yes.

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