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Big 5 announces new series format and adds Drexel to its historic ranks

The Dragons join for the new Big 5 Classic next season

The Big 5 is here.
Riley Frain

As was announced in a press conference from the Wells Fargo Center this morning, Philadelphia’s Big 5 has unveiled the brand new “Big 5 Classic” — an annual series to crown the Big 5 Champion.

In addition to the Big 5 Classic, the group officially welcomed Drexel into its ranks as the sixth member institution behind La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple, and Villanova. (Why not just call it the Big 6, for clarity, well, find out later in the story.)

“This is a true celebration of Philadelphia College Basketball,” La Salle head coach Fran Dunphy — a former coach at both Penn and Temple — said. “Collaboration and local rivalries enhance the good of the game, [its] a continuation of a remarkable tradition entering its 68th year.”

The new format will feature the six program’s separated into three-team pods:

Pod 1: Temple, La Salle, and Drexel.

Pod 2: Villanova, St. Joe’s, and Penn.

Each program will face the other two from its respective pod at an individual on-campus site before advancing to the Well Fargo Center on Dec. 2 for a same-day triple header.

Here, the second-place finishers from each pod will match up for third and fourth-place in the Big 5 standings while the third-place pod finishers meet for fifth and sixth. Lastly, we’ll see the winner’s of each pod have a chance to battle for the Big 5 Championship.

“Big 5 basketball and its traditions are a big part of the fabric of Philadelphia basketball,” Dunphy said. “We are all excited to participate in this newly imagined format and the first Big 5 Classic at the new Wells Fargo Center next season.”

Although the new format and scheduling of the Wells Fargo Center are sure to generate some buzz, which the Big 5 has been lacking of late, many will be disappointed by the groups departure from the historic Palestra.

However, while the departure seemed imminent, Dunphy spoke about the importance of maintaining the Big 5’s tradition and historic presence within Philadelphia college basketball.

“Let’s honor the Palestra because it’s such a part of what Philadelphia basketball was,” he said. “Now we’re going to do something a little different come Dec. 2 … [but] we have some work to do [and] we all have to promote Philadelphia basketball more than we do.”

While the group won’t see as much game time at the Palestra next season, Dunphy pointed out they will keep the legendary “Big 5” title despite adding a sixth team.

“One of the things we’re going to do is keep that Big 5 name,” Dunphy said. “As evidenced by the Atlantic-10 with 15 schools, the Big Ten has 14 schools, the Big 12 has 10, so it’s not really that important how many schools are in the Big 5, but now we’re going to have six.”

As we move into the future of Big 5 basketball with this revitalized format, hopefully we can see some revitalized passion from not only the fans, but the school’s as well, to renew this historic rivalry.