- Jan 6, 2015
It’s clear who the breakup of the old Big East helped the most. It’s obvious it created an opening for Villanova and Jay Wright to take over the new creation of the conference and become one of the…
t’s clear who the breakup of the old Big East helped the most.
It’s obvious it created an opening for Villanova and Jay Wright to take over the new creation of the conference and become one of the true superpowers in college basketball, winning two national titles and the league’s regular- season crown six times in seven years.
Xavier, Creighton and Butler have benefited from joining a high-major, their recruiting and visibility skyrocketing.
What has gone somewhat unsaid are the teams that have been hurt the most since leaving the league in 2012. That haven’t been the same.
Syracuse, come on down. Pittsburgh, you know this includes you. Notre Dame, you’re included.
These were perennial tournament teams as members of the Big East. Programs that were annually in the top 25. Now? Not so much.
All three are unlikely to go dancing this year. Pittsburgh hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 2016. Notre Dame is one of the worst teams in the ACC this year, 3-6 in the league even after Saturday’s upset of Pitt, and hasn’t reached the tournament since 2017. It has lost 28 straight games to ranked teams, a program record. Syracuse looks like an NIT team, owning just a single top-100 victory, and has averaged just 20.1 wins over the last six years.
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They all went from the upper-echelon of the Big East to second-class citizens in the ACC, the other guys after North Carolina, Virginia and Duke. Recruiting has been poor. Notre Dame has the highest-rated recruiting class of the three for next year, and it is 51st according to 247Sports. Since the three joined the ACC in 2013, they have had three top-20 classes. Notre Dame was 15th in 2018 and Syracuse was eighth in 2013 and 2015.
Compare that to where the programs were before leaving the Big East. Syracuse had reached five straight tournaments and back-to-back Elite Eights. Pittsburgh had won at least 20 games 11 years in a row, making the Dance 10 of those seasons. Notre Dame went to the tournament six of seven years.
The struggles of these teams can’t be solely attached to going from the Big East to the ACC of course. Pittsburgh hiring Kevin Stallings after letting Jamie Dixon leave for TCU in 2016 set the program back several years. Jeff Capel has shown progress in each of his three seasons, and should at least have the Panthers in the NIT this year.
At Syracuse, losing Mike Hopkins to Washington has negatively impacted recruiting. Coach Jim Boeheim is 76 years old. He was going to slow down at some point.
The situation at Notre Dame isn’t as simple. There was no coaching change. The Irish reached back-to-back regional finals in their second and third years in the ACC, but have fallen off significantly since then. This looks like it will be their third straight year missing the tournament, though last year’s team was in position to make it if there was a tournament.
If they had to do it again, Syracuse and Pittsburgh almost certainly leave because of the football money. Notre Dame, whose football program has remained independent, may not have.
The basketball programs can only look at their present predicament and wonder where they would be if they had remained in the Big East.