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The Big East needs a splash, and that splash needs to include St. John's

Expectations - and needs - are high for this year's Big East.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Big East wants a big year.

Last season was solid; but with four programs making the NCAA Tournament and none making the second weekend, the feeling at Big East Media Day was that the league needs to do more - getting five teams into the NCAA Tournament, and doing better once in the tourney.

It's part of the league's need to increase their national presence.

Media people casually toss out how a certain program needs to be good to help elevate a basketball league. That's not always true - fans will watch and follow teams in Kansas, after all - but for a fledgling outfit like the Big East, that has some truth.

Last year's marquee sides were newcomer Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska, and Villanova. Providence won the Big East Tournament. Good programs, healthy fanbases.

But for a television network, it helps to have a lot of New York area viewers. Mostly because there are a lot of people in the New York area, so the potential for a winner is vast.

It's why Rutgers landed in the Big Ten.

So Howard Megdal was at Big East Media Day, and dug into the need for St. John's to be good.

So it really falls to St. John's, and to a certain extent, to nearby Seton Hall, to carry the flag for the biggest media market in the country as the Big East tries to prove basketball alone can drive sufficient revenue to make a 21st century conference work.

"Absolutely. We embrace the expectations," St. John's coach Steve Lavin told me when I asked him if there's more pressure on St. John's than other programs, given the league's position and the program's location.

"We want to return St. John's to its rightful place as the crown jewel of college basketball in New York City. We speak to recruits about that. We present it as a challenge. ... You can come to St. John's, and be a change agent. And when you get a crack into this city, there's no comparison."

The team was very good in 2010, and the media ate it up.

Is this team good enough to draw attention to themselves for positive reasons? And is that enough to drive growth in Fox Sports 1?

New York can be a marquee spot for college basketball. It already is a warm, welcoming home for hoops - for Syracuse basketball, for Connecticut basketball, for Duke basketball.

If St. John's can win, they can start chipping away at the outsiders who have planted flags in the city - and speed up the growth of Fox Sports 1 and the Big East.

The Big East may not be at a crossroads, needs to make a splash this season. And they need St. John's to be the big stone.