Conference Realignment: Zags Have Reached Out To Departing Big East Programs

Conference realignment has largely been focused around football but what are the chances that the basketball schools rise up and form their own conference?

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Thamel: Comprehensive Look At The Big East Split

If you are feeling a bit behind on the most recent realignment talks, SI's Pete Thamel does an incredible job giving a complete 360-degree look at what it means on multiple levels. re is an excerpt from the piece which is a must read:

Who will be added?

The realignment gold rush will start again. One thing is certain, the seven breakaway Catholic schools will not join the Atlantic-10 as ESPN reported as a possibility earlier this week.

Instead, they will likely use their brands and leverage to poach the Atlantic-10. Many of the schools in that conference fit the religious bend of the league and have strong attendance, infrastructure and brand names. (The A-10 schools would be leaving behind a lot of money in NCAA units.) There are others schools being bandied about, however. George Mason and perhaps VCU will be considered, and Gonzaga is a curious option, though its biggest disadvantage is geography. (The league plans to be an all-sports league, which would make travel expensive.)

The seven schools will have to decide whether they want to consider UConn and Cincinnati, two powerhouse hoops programs. The downside to those is that the Catholic schools have been disappointed in how they've publicly lobbied to leave the Big East. And their inclusion likely wouldn't last long, as they'd jump at the first offer of another conference in order to improve their lot in football. Simply put, inviting those schools would be inviting the problems the conference is attempting to leave.

Temple could be a different story if the Big East breaks up and it ends up in another league for football. Perhaps the league would consider the Owls on a dual-membership basis, although Villanova would likely object.

For now, the Xavier, Butler, Dayton, St. Louis and Creighton are the leaders in the clubhouse. But that's far from settled, and there's plenty more options to discuss.


CBS Sports: 'Catholic 7' To Leave Big East

The first domino is about to fall, it seems.

As we have seen with other conference shifts, these things tend to move very quickly and it now appears that seven Big East schools are planning to withdraw from the conference, per CBS Sports' Gary Parrish. Per Parrish and other reports, the seven schools leaving the conference are all basketball schools: Marquette, DePaul, St. John's, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, and Villanova. Each of these schools obviously possesses a rich and deep basketball history and, while some have lacked recent success, each are big names in the basketball world.

In conference realignment madness, the Big East has largely been the prey and has seen their biggest programs depart for greener pastures. West Virginia and TCU have already waved goodbye to the league and Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Rutgers have all made their intentions known that they will be leaving the conference. In response to those major departures, the conference has added Memphis, Temple, Tulane, Central Florida, SMU, and Houston. East Carolina, Boise State, and San Diego State are expected to join as football only members, as well. Needless to say, the remaining Big East schools weren't too impressed with the additions, particularly as it relates to basketball.

So, what' next? Well, per ESPN, the departing schools would have a lot of work to do:

The problem for the Catholic seven would be that if they were to venture off without taking the assets and brand name, they would forfeit all the NCAA tournament revenue from the conference and would be left without any start-up to form a new conference. Then, of course, the seven schools would have to attempt to lure Atlantic-10 members Xavier, Dayton, Saint Louis, Butler and possibly Creighton, the latter out of the Missouri Valley, to form a city league that would stretch from St. Louis to Chicago to Milwaukee to Indianapolis to Cincinnati to Dayton to Providence to New York-New Jersey to Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.

We have heard from multiple places that Gonzaga would be receptive to discussing a basketball-only conference move. Earlier today, Adam Zagoria took to Twitter with this:

Luring the major A-10 teams would be the biggest step for the 'Catholic 7' at this point. My gut tells me that Gonzaga and Saint Mary's would both jump at the opportunity to cash in on their biggest revenue sport and join what would become a top basketball conference.

While there is a lot (A LOT) of pieces that need to fall into place to make this happen, the prospects are exciting. Stay tuned in this stream for all updates...

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