Thursday, March 07, 2013

Creighton Jumping Up to the Big East?

By all accounts, we could be hearing any day (maybe any hour now) that Creighton will be leaving the Missouri Valley Conference to join the "Catholic Seven" in a reformulated, football-free Big East Conference. Regular readers of this blog know that I have no love for Creighton, so that's probably going to influence my opinion on the matter.

Is it a good move for Creighton?  I can't answer that, but I think Creighton needs to ask this question for all of their other sports first, and then go back to basketball. How does this affect the Bluejays' rising soccer program?  How about their solid baseball program?  How about their womens' teams?  The question isn't how would they fare in the games, but rather how would they schedule games?  Do they have to fly everywhere?  Will Creighton's teams spend all of their time on long bus trips?

I don't know those answers, but Bruce Rasmussen should.  And he can then make an economic decision that the revenue that Big East basketball brings to Creighton will more than fund any increased travel expenses their other teams will make.  Or not.  And that should guide his decision.

Can Creighton compete in the Big East?  Maybe.  I'm sure some Creighton fan will jump up and point out that Creighton beat Wisconsin and that their RPI is better than many other Big East teams.  Duly noted.  But let's also point out that Creighton has never played the quantity of top flight opponents that they would face night-in and night-out in the Big East.  Anything can happen in a one game scenario.  Nebraska took a top-ranked Michigan team to the wire this season.  Beat a top-20 RPI Minnesota team last night.  (Or they were, anyway...)  Last season, they beat Indiana.  Upsets happen.  Creighton got caught by several stinker performances against lesser Mo-Valley teams last month.

One thing I learned from Nebraska's move to the Big Ten is that your perceptions of a conference change once you get inside.  And it's tough initially to change leagues because your opponents just have one new have an entirely new schedule of unfamiliar teams to learn and understand.

One thing is clear:  moving to the Big East would be an incredible increase in prestige for Creighton basketball.  They wouldn't be a mid-major team anymore.  They would be in the big time, playing big-time schools week after week.  That's good for Creighton. Creighton vs. Georgetown? Creighton vs. Villanova?  Creighton vs. St. Johns?  That's not Bradley or Evansville anymore.

It also raises another interesting question.  What does the Missouri Valley do in respond?  Do they accept being a nine game conference?  Or do they search out another member.

Maybe one in a market that's a close drive to many other Valley schools.  One in a market that has fallen in love with the Valley name.

Would they look to add UNO?  And what would Valley membership mean for Maverick sports?  It's an interesting idea.  Could UNO compete in the Valley now?  No, and they aren't even NCAA tournament eligible for a couple more years.  But eventually, you never know.  And it would be a heck of a boost for UNO's basketball programs to play in a conference like the Valley.

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