Big East will release schedule next week with one protected rivalry

USA TODAY Sports

St. John's finished 8-10 in Big East play a season ago.

The Big East will release its conference schedule for its inaugural season next week, and will protect one rivalry for each team to be played during the last weekend of the season, according to ESPN's Andy Katz.

The new-look conference, which will have an 18-game, home-and-home slate for each of its ten teams beginning with a marathon on New Year's Eve, is seeking to build rivalries from day one.  Though the league has seven members who have carried over from the old Big East, it also brings aboard Butler, Creighton and Xavier in 2013-14.

Historically, according to Katz, the Big East was always one of the last conferences to release its schedule due to conflicts with dates and times for its many multi-purpose (including NBA) arenas.  Yet the three new programs have more control and flexibility with its scheduling being the only tenants in their respective venues.

We already know that St. John's, along with each of the other nine programs, will play every squad twice - once at home, and once on the road throughout conference season.  But we have now learned that the league is placing an added importance on rivalries, leaving a game with a bit of extra flavor and fun for the regular season finale.  The schools have not yet been notified of who their predetermined rival is.

But are there really five distinct rivalries in the new Big East, especially with schools who have rarely (if at all) played one another over time?

The obvious historically-driven pairing for St. John's would be with Georgetown, yet the once-electric rivalry is no longer anything close to what it was in the 1980'st - the days of Lou Carnesecca, John Thompson, Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing.  The Hoyas have dominated the series in recent years, including winning the last five against the Johnnies.

The Big East could also base these protected rivalries geographically, which might place the Red Storm with Seton Hall or maybe Providence or Villanova.

So, we're intrigued - who would you like to see St. John's paired with for the protected rivalry game to be played during the final weekend in early March?  And leave a comment below with how you would divide the ten teams up on rivalry weekend if it were up to you.

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