The Big East added Tulane to the mix for basketball, starting in 2014. Even with the addition of most of the original Conference USA programs, Mike Aresco's conference remains above the mid-major line ... but it is getting closer.
Thank you Big East. You have officially made a farce of the conference shuffling process.
It wasn't bad enough that you raided Conference USA for a couple of middling football programs that just happened to have some decent basketball. But you couldn't decide if you wanted to be the best basketball conference in the country, or if you wanted to still compete for big football money.
So you tried to improve football while making basketball a side note, and in the end it cost you.
You lost West Virginia. You lost Syracuse. You lost Pittsburgh. You lost Notre Dame. You lost Rutgers.
Ok, so Rutgers wasn't such a big loss on the basketball side. But those other teams, ... well, it certainly wasn't helping the league's reputation.
So you did the only thing you could: raid Conference USA for a few more teams. And when that wasn't enough, you added Tulane.
Yeah, we can stop laughing now. That is the same Tulane, who over the past five seasons has averaged No. 180 in the Ken Pomeroy rankings. That isn't even the worst move that the Big East has made though. Adding SMU is technically a worse choice at an average of No. 189.4.
The joke is that the Big East will be no better than Conference USA with all of the changes, or that it will no longer be a major conference. Well, not so fast. We won't be covering the Big East at Mid-Major Madness next season.
The additions have hurt the Big East for sure, but the Big East is still ahead of Conference USA. It is still ahead of the Mountain West. It is still ahead of the Atlantic 10. The gap has narrowed though, and any other shifts or additions (such as the extra two teams that Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said might be added).
For every team in the Big East, Conference USA, Mountain West and Atlantic 10, I averaged their KenPom score over the last five seasons. I then looked at the average member score for this season's membership, and the same in 2013 and 2014.
Here is how the conferences stack up:
As you can see, the remaining membership in the Big East helps to buoy the score. The basketball-only schools, even though they were not as good as the football schools, still had a lot of heft to them over the past five seasons.
The new schools -- football schools, for only one rea$on -- can't match that though. And it only gets worse when Tulane enters the picture.
The Atlantic 10 and Mountain West hold almost firm, but Conference USA, also looking for scraps elsewhere, gets noticeably weaker, especially with the additions of Florida International, Louisiana Tech and Texas San Antonio. The only school that made CUSA better is Old Dominion; everything else was just a weight.
So, no. We won't be covering the Big East here next season. And we won't be covering them in 2014 unless something drastic happens.
But we will be watching the effects of their pull on the rest of college basketball, moves that right now look as if they are widening, not closing, the gap between the top (ACC, B1G, Big 12) and next tier down.