Watching the Big East Basketball tournament for the last time is a very surreal experience. It's like watching the last 30 years of my life flash in front of my eyes. I grew up watching the epic clashes between Georgetown and Syracuse, Georgetown and St. Johns, and Connecticut and Villanova. When I watch all the highlights of the great games, the big shots, and the marquee players I wonder where all the time went.
Because sports is such a big part of my life and the memories of classic sporting events run through my mind like a raging river the Big East tournament has a special place in my heart. I can see Chris Mullin busting up Reggie Williams for a jumper. I can see John Thompson and Lou Carneseca wearing the same ugly sweater. I can see Patrick Ewing blocking some one's shot then dunking on their head on the other end of the court. I can see Sherman Douglas throwing an alley oop to Derrick Coleman. I can see Carmelo Anthony making the game look real easy for a freshman. I can see Allen Iverson crossing over Ray Allen only to have Allen hit him up for the game winner.
It's crazy to think these moments are coming to an abrupt end. Certainly the changing landscape of college sports and the financial ramifications of creating power conferences has its casualties, but I never thought the Big East (in basketball) would fall victim to the changing times. Perhaps I was being unrealistic, but I thought there was enough tradition and success to keep the conference intact. In the end I should have known money and television exposure would eventually win out.
The Big East is to college basketball what the SEC is to college football. It is the power conference that turns out the most dominate players at the next level. Some could argue the ACC is on par with them (especially after they add UConn and Syracuse next year), and they have won several national championships over the last 20 years (North Carolina, Duke, and Maryland), but for my money the Big East is still the standard. It will be sad to see the end of an era.