In the Big East Conference everyone is a winner, at least for now. From the undefeated No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0) to the Villanova Wildcats (8-4), all Big East teams took winning records into the holiday break.
But the New Year is coming which means it’s time to ring in Big East conference play. It’s gut-check time and with all the upheaval created by conference realignment, expect more sizzle in an already hotly contested league.
Imagine the hostile signs fans will create for teams bolting to other conferences. Free-throw taunting will be elevated ,or lowered , to new levels. Because this time the bad blood between teams is worse than personal. It’s financial.
While players swing elbows on court, lawyers will be fighting in court. The dysfunctional Big East mess will be played out in public. Should make for tasty television.
After devouring mostly cupcakes, Big East teams must now digest the meat of the schedule. Big East competition gets underway New Year’s Eve when the Bearcats travel to Pittsburgh to take on the No. 24 Pitt Panthers (12-1). The Marquette Golden Eagles host the Connecticut Huskies New Year’s Day.
The Big East has a 141-31 record against non-conference opponents and a .820 winning percentage for the season. Right now all the teams can boast about positive percentages. But except for a few teams — those that took on tough opponents early in the season — most Big East schools find out how good they are during league play.
The No. 15 Georgetown Hoyas took on difficult opponents early. But the Hoyas dodged a bullet in their season-opener with the No. 14 Florida Gators. With the Hoyas trailing at the half the game was called off due to slippery conditions on the deck of the ship the game was being played on.
The Hoyas travel to Milwaukee to play the Golden Eagles Jan. 5, a matchup between two of the seven Catholic brethren. When one of the Catholic seven travels to play one of the “outcast” teams like UConn or Cincinnati, who tried and failed to leave the Big East, that’s when we can expect a little extra venom from fans.
Big East games are always physical and intense. But with the added drama of which teams are leaving versus those who are staying, this season conference play could prove to be the most hostile ever.