BASKETBALL

The last hurrah

Kyle Riviere @kyleR_sports
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere

Sports are often coined as the purest form of reality TV. There are no scripts, no actors, no special effects and the reactions and emotions that surface are as spontaneous and real as you can possibly find.

Because of that raw appeal, many times, things don't go as planned. Many times, the stories have a sad or anti-climatic ending that we weren't looking for.

However, every once in a while, things come together perfectly. One shining example revealed itself last week for the Final Four.

The champions of both men and women's basketball came from the Big East. It's a conference that will have a major face-lift by this time next year and will never again resemble what has always been the premier league in college basketball.

The Big East's demise all began with Syracuse and Pittsburgh deciding to bolt for the ACC over a year ago. That move will finally take effect this upcoming fall.

The two heavyweights' departure started a domino effect for all of the other members of the tradition-rich conference. Notre Dame decided to follow them into the ACC in all sports except for football--where they'll remain independent.

Rutgets then decided to make the move to the Big 10.

Losing so many heavy-hitters, the seven tradition Catholic schools--DePaul, Georgetown, Marquete, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova--decided to break free from what remained of the Big East. In fact, when they left, they took the "Big East" name with them. They'll remain together exclusively as a basketball conference.

In addition to those schools, they will add three new members in Butler, Xavier and Creighton.

With so many schools scattered all over the place, Louisville decided the ACC would be their best option. They'll stick it out for the remainder of this year with the leftovers of the old Big East but in 2014, they'll be off to the ACC with Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.

That old Big East that will remain this upcoming year will now go by the name of "The American Athletic Conference" and will contain: Louisville and Rutgers (for one year), Connecticut, South Florida, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Memphis, Houston, SMU and Temple.

So, even though there will technically still have a Big East Conference, make no mistake about it. The NCAA Tournament was the real Big East's last hurrah.

And just like it was a script written and sold to a grandiose Hollywood producer, the Big East's last hurrah was one we'll always remember.

In a year where men's college basketball was dominated by the Big 10, the Big East placed two teams in the Final Four in Syracuse and Louisville. And how perfect--in last Monday night's national title game, Louisville toppled the Big 10's own Michigan Wolverines to give the Big East their last taste of greatness.

It was even a brighter moment in women's basketball. Three Big East teams filled the Final Four in Connecticut, Notre Dame and Louisville.

That led to an all-Big East championship game with Connecticut vs. Louisville, and the Lady Huskies took home their eighth title--their last win for the storied Big East before they join the American Athletic Conference this fall.

So, with the college basketball season officially in the books, we can now say that the Big East we knew for so long is officially over.

There will be no more rivalries like: Georgetown vs. Syracuse, or Syracuse vs. UCONN or UCONN vs. Villanova. And there won't be any more of those Kemba Walker or Gerry McNamara moments in the Big East Tournament.

However, I guess we can enjoy those great final conference moments Louisville gave us--like how they fought back from 16 down against Syracuse in the Big East Tournament .

It's easy to remember how they won it for teammate Kevin Ware after he went down to his gruesome injury in the Elite 8 game against Duke. And how they fought back from 12 down against both Wichita State and Michigan in the Final Four to win the title will always hold its place in history.

It's the end of an era, and I don't think you could have scripted this ending any better.