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Freed The Seven: Marquette, C7 To Begin Play Under Big East Banner Next Season

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Multiple reports indicate that Marquette and the rest of the Catholic 7 will leave the Big East (v.1.5) this summer -- and they're taking the Big East name, Xavier and Butler, and maybe Madison Square Garden with them.

USA TODAY Sports

Alright, Marquette Basketball Fan: it's time to play Where Do You Want To Play Ball Next Year?

Behind Door No. 1: a lame-duck season in the Big East (v.1.5), alternating one-night stands with teams like Temple and Memphis and slummin' it with the likes of SMU and Houston and UCF.

Behind Door No. 2: A BRAND NEW CONFERENCE!

In exchange for leaving two years earlier than the scheduled departure date of July 2015, the Catholic 7, who will not attend the Atlanta meeting [of Big East presidents scheduled for tomorrow, would agree to take considerably less money from a reserve pool of conference money earned by the Big East from exit fees and NCAA basketball tournament shares which is reported to be in excess of 60 million dollars.

The financial details of this arrangement still must be worked out, but both sides appear ready to announce that the Catholic 7 group will leave in July...

But that's not all! Your brand new conference (reportedly) comes complete with your old conference's name...

The Big East's seven departing Catholic schools are expected to start their own league next season and will keep the Big East Conference name, sources told ESPN's Brett McMurphy, Andy Katz and Dana O'Neil.

Musketeers and Bulldogs (and maybe Bluejays if you ask nicely) ...

According to multiple sources, the seven teams leaving the Big East -- Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, Seton Hall, St. John's, DePaul and Providence -- might only add Xavier and Butler in the immediate future. There has been speculation the league would expand to 12 teams, but it now appears that it will be a nine- or 10-team league.

a shiny new television contract...

A multi-year television offer of approximately $40 million from Fox Sports Cable is on the table for the Catholic 7 schools, adding more pressure to leave early and start the new venture.

and an annual trip to New York City:

Some clarity is also expected soon about Madison Square Garden as the home for a postseason basketball venue. It's expected that MSG will eventually link together with the Catholic Seven schools, barring any significant interest by the ACC to become an annual occupant. (That interest is unlikely because of the ACC's traditional Southern geographic ties.)

Do I need to give you a few seconds to make your decision, or should we start wrapping your new conference now?