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Big East Basketball: Examining the need for more conference games

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Major conferences continue to schedule more conference contests.

Connecticut v St. Johns Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

Just over one week ago, as reported by FanRag Sports, the Big Ten coaches voted in favor of expanding to a 20-game conference slate. This change is expected to be implemented in the 2018-19 season.

The Big Ten is not the first to vote for an extension of conference play. In July of 2016, the ACC voted in the same fashion at the idea of a 20-game conference schedule.

Efforts by major conferences to play more conference games will only hurt mid-major schools that are eager to earn at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament.

“Moving to 20 league games is going to change the entire model,” one Big Ten athletic director told FanRag Sports. “They want to wipe out the non-Power 5 schools from getting at-large bids completely. Moving to 20 games makes that more of a realistic possibility.”

How does the Big East move forward?

Thankfully, the Big East remains exceptionally competitive on a national level. Since reconfiguration, the additions of Xavier, Butler, and Creighton have bolstered a formidable basketball conference. The Big East is comprised of valuable basketball schools that should have no issues remaining strong.

Yet, such drastic scheduling changes in the ACC and Big Ten have the Big East officials contemplating switch of their own.

As FanRag Sports’ Jon Rothstein reports, the Big East could adopt a 20-game conference schedule as well. Nevertheless, his report also states that the conference would only make such a switch if a 11th team is added.

Last winter, FanRag Sports also reported that the Big East and UConn engaged in preliminary discussions. The main holdup is that UConn would need to find a home for their football program.

The Connecticut Huskies would be a valuable addition to the Big East. As Rumble in the Garden laid out previously, UConn would add a valuable brand, a competitive basketball school, and more considerable support in New York City.

Furthermore, the addition of UConn would allow the Big East to expand to a 20-game conference slate and retain the coveted round-robin.

Going forward, the expanded conference play for the Big Ten and ACC means that the influential schools in each conference will schedule less competitive non-conference games. For Big Ten and ACC schools, why schedule two tougher out of conference bouts when they have additional matchups within their league.

Luckily, the Big East has an ongoing series with the Big Ten. The Gavitt Games will continue to give us good early season battles.

However, some of the lower conferences like the Atlantic-10 and Mountain West will have less opportunity to book and win a significant non-conference contest. This will hurt many mid-major teams that aim to grab resume-building wins before conference play. In turn, at-large bids for mid-major teams would decrease.

Still, for the Big East to ensure they remain a force in college basketball, they have to keep up with leagues like the Big Ten and ACC. For that reason, pursuing a 20-game slate would be beneficial for the conference to pack as many meaningful games into one season.