Back last Wednesday, one day before Big East Basketball Media Day, the Big East and the Big 12 officially announced a yearly men’s basketball challenge series between the two conferences.
The series will start in December of the 2019-20 regular season, and all ten teams from both leagues will participate for each of the four seasons that the challenge will run.
This is, quite possibly, the most obvious smart decision ever made in the history of college basketball.
With the Big 10 already moving to a 20 game league schedule and the ACC rapidly behind them next year, the opportunities for high profile non-conference games were going to start dipping for both the Big East and the Big 12. If the teams in the Big 10 and the ACC are going to play two more league games against their league foes, why on earth would they make an effort to schedule top tier teams like those in the Big East or the Big 12 going forward? If the Big East and the Big 12 are going to be drawn towards each other for non-conference scheduling reasons, it only makes sense for the two leagues to sit down and hammer out the matchups for everyone in both leagues so both sides see the biggest benefit possible.
It also doesn’t hurt that the Big 12 and the Big East have been two of the three best leagues in the country for each of the past four seasons according to KenPom.com. In effect, both leagues are adding a game to their schedule that’s ultimately going to have a bigger impact on the associated postseason profiles than any ACC or Big Ten league game. Prrrrrretty savvy, everyone.
This is, by the way, probably something of a notification from the Big East that they’re not looking to expand the conference to 11 teams and then move to a 20 game schedule themselves. By continuing the Gavitt Tipoff Games through the 2022-23 season, the same year that the Big 12 series will wrap up, most of the Big East will be playing 20 games against high major opponents by guarantee through these two series. Why expand the league and throw literally every other sport that the conference sponsors into complete disarray, not to mention the ease of scheduling the Big 12 series, when you’re already effectively playing a 20 game league schedule? Sorry/not sorry, Connecticut.
Thanks to a set of home-and-home series that are starting this year, we already know four of the games that will be a part of the yet-to-be-named challenge series.
The other six squads in each league will fill out the remainder of the first year’s slate in some order and fashion. Each league will host five games every season, so two of the undetermined games will be in Big East arenas, while the other four will be in Big 12 buildings. The home team will get to decide where the game is played, which means that St. John’s will probably aim at playing at Madison Square Garden, while Kansas has the right to play at the Sprint Center in Kansas City if they want.
With MU already scheduled to play Kansas State in this series, the natural thing to do here is speculate who will be their other three opponents. I can tell you who I don’t want it to be.
I don’t want West Virginia on the schedule.
Not as part of this whole deal, I want Marquette to never ever ever play the Mountaineers ever again. Why? Because this is what happened the last time they played:
That is WVU’s last memory of Marquette. I want that to never change.
Of the other eight teams, Marquette has the longest history with Iowa State. They’ve played eight games, with Marquette leading the series 5-3, but they haven’t played since the 2004 NIT. The best option would be Oklahoma, as Marquette has never played the Sooners. MU has a winning record against Texas and Texas Tech, as they have won the only meetings, but are either tied (hello, Baylor) or have a losing record against the other teams.
Which Big 12 team do you want to see Marquette face first in this new challenge?
This poll is closed