For the last time as Big East Conference rivals Pitt played Providence today defeating the Friars 68-64. Junior forward Lamar Patterson led Panthers scorers with 17 points while pulling down 7 rebounds. Talib Zanna, Tray Woodall, and JJ Moore all added 9 points respectively. The Panthers improved their overall record to 16 -4 and are now 4-3 in the Big East. The Panthers play DePaul on Saturday at the Peterson Events Center.
The scrappy Friars, now the owners of a 10-9 record, kept the game close until the final seconds looking to defeat Pitt in the last game of a series that began on March 18, 1975. While the teams may meet againin the future it they will be as members of new conferences with Pitt set to join the ACC next season and Providence leaving the Big East for greener pastures with the other members of the “Catholic 7.”
History is likely to show that the exodus of the “Catholic 7” (DePaul, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Marquette, Villanova, Providence and Georgetown) was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” as the Big East looked to remain relevant as traditional powers and charter members Pitt and Syracuse follow West Virginia out of the conference. However it has been a slow decay for the Big East since the departure of Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Miami in the early part of last decade. With football becoming subpar the Big East’s success has been in being the nations basketball super conference. However with the departure of 10 of its teams in a matter of years it is unlikely the conference will recover. Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese told the USA Today,
Q. Having been part of the Big East since its berth, what is your opinion on what happened over the weekend with the 7 Catholic basketball schools leaving the conference?
A. It was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back. But in my mind it was really probably over a year ago when Syracuse and Pittsburgh left. Having said that, I think the group of Catholic schools can be successful. I do feel sorry for the people they left behind. They are going to have a tough time of it. A school like Connecticut which has seven national championships in women’s basketball and three in men’s basketball is pretty much in limbo.
Q. What do you think was the reason behind this move and all the other moves of the past few years?
A. Everybody can give whatever reason they want. But it’s all about the money. Anybody who says differently is either lying or is naïve. But today we live in a totally different environment. And we’re not finished yet. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be more of this (reconfiguration) and that saddens me.
The days of Big East basketball are coming to an end and matchups like Pitt vs. Providence are the exact kind of games that will be missed throughout the Northeast as its basketball powers split up among several mid-major conferences. However we will save that for another post, a post about Big East Saturday’s and what it meant to really hate West Virginia.