Should the new Big East plan on expansion in the far future, it's obvious for some of the experts and viewers that it should be Dayton and St. Louis being #11 & #12 respectively. Then for #13 & #14, it should be Duquesne and St. Bonaventure, to attempt on balancing East/West division play, as well as on the conference scheduling of 19 games, plus boosting some RPI and some tourney bids.
SLU is terrible right now, but have some great recruits coming in...
My contention is that the "conventional wisdom" of expansion -- adding the strongest candidates -- doesn't apply to the Big East. Other conferences have expanded with the strongest programs possible because:
A. They were expanding for TV purposes (SEC/Big Ten/ACC)
B. They LOST STRENGTH to someone else (American, Mountain West, Big XII)
C. They foresaw LOSING STRENGTH to someone else and made a pre-emptive expansion (Atlantic 10).
The A-10 added VCU, Butler, George Mason and Davidson because they knew they'd lose Temple and Xavier and probably two other schools (which turned out to be Charlotte & Butler). But the A-10 already had Fordham, LaSalle, Duquesne and a rotating group of teams at the bottom (Bona, URI, UMass, Richmond, Mason, SLU)The Big East has DePaul and one rebuilding team each year. A four-team top, a four-team middle, A two-team bottom. And this is a problem
Generally speaking, in conference play (10 teams), the TOP and BOTTOM are going to have inverse records. And the middle teams that are above/at .500 get NCAA bids in a league as strong as the Big East.
But the Big East has only two teams in the bottom: 4-28 last year.
And the BE has four TOP FORTY PROGRAMS: 52-20 last year.
That leaves the four teams in the middle, and since the BE is gonna go 90-90, that makes the middle finish 34-42. That’s not enough wins for Creighton to make the dance. Creighton went 1-4 against Nova, Nova, Xavier, Xavier, Oklahoma; and 2-5 against Providence, Providence, Butler, Butler, Seton Hall, Seton Hall, Seton Hall and Indiana; 3-3 vs NIT/CBI/CIT teams, and 12-2 vs 130+ of the RPI.
Compare that to St. Bonaventure, who was #27 on Selection Sunday: 1-2 vs NCAA locks, 16-3 vs 130+ of the RPI.
Bona was 4-1 vs worse teams, Creighton was 1-6 vs ridiculously good teams, and Creighton was 70 spots worse in RPI. Then in the NIT, Wagner beat St. Bonaventure and lost to Creighton by 33 points.
The Big East should expand. NOT to “add strength.” They have enough strength as is. But to create balanced thirds that also adds TV markets:St. Bonaventure:
- 10-2 OOC (8-3 average. With Big East schedule/money to buy games, there’s no need to play at Syracuse, at Florida, at Pitt, at Wake, at NC State, at Illinois. All OOC losses the last six years)
- Buffalo TV market, Rochester TV market. Same amount of residents in the 585 and 716 area codes as the St. Louis Metro Area.
- Probably going 6-12 at best in Big East play on average. Duquesne:
- 8-4 OOC average (again, no need to play at WVU, at Penn State, at Ga Tech, at Arizona)
- Pittsburgh TV market
- Probably going 3-15 at best in Big East playDayton:
- 10-2 OOC average (again, no need to play three quality opponents OOC)
- Cincy + Dayton, aka Southwest Ohio is roughly the #18 sized overall market. And there’s so many teams in the area, you’d have a plurality)
- Need someone with a big rep like UD in expansion to win the PR war, just adding two lower teams is tough to spin.
That makes the Big East Top four: 52-20, like before. The bottom four would be 13-59. And the middle five would be a combined 48-38 (11-7, 11-7, 11-7, 10-8, 9-9).
The Big East would have gotten at least eight bids last year: Dayton and Creighton for sure. St. Bonaventure and MAYBE Marquette could have gotten bids depending on how the unbalanced schedule shook out.
A four-team top, a four-team bottom, and a FIVE TEAM MIDDLE that could ALL GO DANCING. Especially with the A-10 suffering yet another hit without Dayton.