Exciting news is hitting in the aftermath of the big win over Wisconsin. First, it appears Todd Mayo is done with exams and may be back on the roster afterall. Hopefully Jae Crowder has encouraged his Mavericks teammate O.J. Mayo to get on his little bro, but this would also be a great story of "Tough Love" from Buzz. As I've written, I believe Mayo is the difference between a ranked team and a bubble team this year, but more important is essential to making MU an Elite 8 team next year.
On the conference front, even many of the strongest advocates of sticking it out with the Big East as long as we could realized Louisville had to stay for it to work. With them gone, it looks like the 7 remaining Catholic schools are ready to break and hope to retain the Big East name for a basketball only-conference. I already did a piece ranking all 41 Catholic schools in the country, but today I broke down the 14 schools that might form a Catholic Big East based on the number of NCAA bids they have received in the past 10 years (automatic bids with a 13 or lower seed not counted). the most interesting question is Gonzaga, which apparently wants to join but would require a long flight to Spokane. However, the Zags are the one Catholic school worth it with 14 straight NCAA bids and obviously 10 in the last 10 years.
Marquette has 8 bids in the last 10 years, the best of any of the seven breakaways, but Xavier also has 8 in 10 years and would seem the most obvious add to bridge the geography between the Midwest and Eastern teams. A very good 10-team conference with home-and-home is my preference, with Dayton being my choice if it were decided to go all-Catholic, or Butler if not.
There are four other Catholic schools who could be added if the conference wanted to go past 10, but my fear in doing that Marquette being put in a Western Division meaning only traveling every other year to the Eastern markets while traveling to Nebraska and San Francisco to play Creighton and St. Mary's - great programs but I think Gonzaga is the only one absolutely worth the trip.
|Gonzaga||10||WCC||best available, 1 Catholic team worth a long flight|
|Xavier||8||A10||keep Cincy market|
|Villanova||7||BE||prob keep St. Joe's out|
|Dayton||3||A10||prefer Xavier to keep Cincy market|
|If go past 10|
|Creighton||4||MVC||if build Western Div around Gonzaga (Neb)|
|St. Mary's||4||WCC||if build Western Div around Gonzaga (San Fran)|
|Saint Joseph's||3||A10||Backup- Philly already covered with Nova|
|St. Louis||1||A10||if Western Division, but with no Rick can they compete?|