GOODS: It’s time to move past old BIG EAST

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GOODS: It’s time to move past old BIG EAST

The former BIG EAST Conference split in 2013. (Marquette Wire Stock Image)

The former BIG EAST Conference split in 2013. (Marquette Wire Stock Image)

The former BIG EAST Conference split in 2013. (Marquette Wire Stock Image)

The former BIG EAST Conference split in 2013. (Marquette Wire Stock Image)

Jack Goods, jack.goods@mu.edu

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The old BIG EAST isn’t coming back. Get over it.

Last week Seth Greenberg was the latest in a long string of ESPN analysts to disrespect the BIG EAST Conference since its employer lost the conference’s TV rights three years ago.

“Nova-Butler playing so hard! Not great teams but this is a great game!” Greenberg tweeted during the battle between two of the conference’s top teams. It isn’t something you’d expect someone to say about a game between two teams ranked No. 11 and No. 19 in the country, respectively.

Greenberg defended himself by saying that despite the two teams’ success, they simply couldn’t compare to the old BIG EAST teams. He has a point. Clearly the conference isn’t as prolific as it was prior to the split between the Catholic 7 and the football schools in 2012. Syracuse, Louisville, Connecticut, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are historic programs and helped make the BIG EAST the best conference in the land. That doesn’t mean the current embodiment of the BIG EAST isn’t still one of the best conferences in college basketball.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBS Sports are two of the many outlets predicting that five of 10 teams from the conference make the tournament. The only conferences projected more than five are the ACC, Big 12, Pac 12 and Big Ten; all but the Big 12 have more total teams than the BIG EAST. Even the ACC, the new cream of the crop, is projected to have eight teams in the tournament, which is just over half the 15 team conference. The BIG EAST is ranked fourth in Ken Pomeroy’s conference rankings, found by averaging Adjusted Offense and Adjusted Defense of the teams.

The conference isn’t lacking in top-end talent either. There are four BIG EAST teams ranked in the AP Top 25, one less than the Big 12, ACC and Big 10. There are two teams in the top 10, Villanova and Xavier, one less than the Big 12, as many as the Big Ten and one more than the ACC.

The league isn’t without stars. Providence’s Kris Dunn, Marquette’s Henry Ellenson and Georgetown’s Isaac Copeland are all projected to be first round picks in this year’s NBA Draft. Providence’s Ben Bentil, Butler’s Kellen Dunham, Xavier’s James Farr, Villanova’s Josh Hart and Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead have all garnered national attention.

We can sit around and cry about how the conference isn’t what it once was or all the television money it still could be bringing in, but what’s the point? The split is three years in the past and the conference hasn’t been devastated. It’s time for the BIG EAST and national pundits to accept the conference for what it is.