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Exploring Ideal Candidates for Big East Expansion

The Big East could be considering expansion.

The Big East Conference has long been a Conference of basketball superiority. Widely regarded as one of the best basketball conferences in the NCAA, the Big East has been lost in the shuffle. Back in 2013, the Big East’s media rights were purchased by Fox, and at the time it felt like an overpay. It felt more like Fox was grasping at straws for content post-football season rather than being truly interested in airing Big East basketball. Recent Championships won by Villanova and UConn, along with the NBA talent from both universities, have clearly changed that narrative.

Recently, the Big East secured new media rights agreements with NBC and TNT, marking a significant development. This deal reaffirms the importance of college basketball, particularly highlighting the Big East’s enduring relevance. Under this arrangement, which extends until 2031, the Big East is poised to tap into new markets and increase its revenue streams. NBC plans to broadcast games on Peacock, while TNT will offer coverage on TBS, TruTV, and MAX, presenting a prime opportunity for the conference to pursue expansion.

Let’s consider potential candidates for Big East expansion to further solidify its status as a hub for college basketball.

Exploring Ideal Candidates for Big East Expansion

University of Dayton Flyers

Dayton presents an intriguing option for expansion, providing a semi-regional rival for Xavier Musketeers. The program has not only a history of success but also recent achievements and NBA notoriety that place it on the expansion radar. With notable alumni like Obi Toppin, Toumani Camara, and DaRon Holmes II impacting the NBA, Dayton offers a strong market presence. Although not a large city, Dayton has a relatively isolated market. Which would likely direct most local viewership to the Big East—a significant advantage.

Dayton also fields a Division One football team, but like most of the Big East, it competes in the FCS. The conference would incorporate Dayton primarily for its basketball prowess. With five NCAA tournament appearances since 2010, Dayton would be a valuable addition to the Big East.

University of Rhode Island Rams

Expanding with the Rams would reinforce the Big East’s presence in the East. Rhode Island doesn’t boast the same level of achievement as other potential additions but offers compelling regional rivalries with Providence Friars and UConn that could immediately boost viewership. Kingston, Rhode Island, might not be the most glamorous location, but URI’s large student body, second only to UConn in the Big East, adds appeal.

URI competes in Division One football in the FCS, which aligns with the Big East’s focus on basketball. Despite limited recent success, URI’s regional rivalries and potential to maintain a stronghold in the Northeast make it a suitable candidate.

St. Louis University Billikens

St. Louis represents an ideal expansion target for several reasons. It occupies a strategic location near Big 12 and SEC territories and, like many Big East institutions, is a private Catholic university. St. Louis is also an untapped basketball market, lacking a major college program or NBA team.

The Billikens have enjoyed considerable success. Transitioning to a more prestigious conference like the Big East could significantly enhance their recruitment and competitive edge. Notable athletes like Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal have emerged from the area, suggesting potential benefits from a closer-to-home option. The team has made four NCAA tournament appearances since 2010, making it a compelling candidate for expansion.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Rams

VCU is another appealing prospect, located in Richmond, VA. This market offers the Big East a strategic southern outpost and helps to consolidate its dominance in the Northeast. Richmond’s substantial population and relatively isolated market would enable the Big East to solidify its presence effectively.

With ten NCAA tournament appearances since 2010 and no varsity football program, VCU is ideally positioned to concentrate on basketball, aligning perfectly with the Big East’s priorities. This makes VCU a robust addition to the conference, enhancing its geographical and competitive landscape.


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