For the past few years, the Big East has boasted the deepest basketball conference in the country; however, with the departure of major components, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, will the Big East crumble? UConn and Rutgers are expected to get offered spots in other conference, but for now are still a part of the Big East. TCU is still expected to join the Big East next year, which still is in doubt considering the MWC is looking at a possible merger with Conference-USA. Talks of the Big 12 merging with the remaining schools of the Big East have emerged, but is probably the last thing the Big East wants.
With all that being said, the Big East could still survive by itself. It will be nearly impossible to replace the impact that Syracuse and Pittsburgh had on the conference, but they'll have to try. Rumors have it that Navy was very close to joining the Big East prior to the exit of Syracuse and Pitt, which would be a decent start to rebuilding the conference.
The biggest power remaining in the Big East is Connecticut. They are the best football team in the conference and are coming off of a National Championship in basketball. Keeping UConn is vital in order to maintain an elite status among the "super-conferences". UConn would prefer to go to the ACC, because of their connection with Syracuse; however, Big East commissioner, John Marinatto, has announced that the current members have confirmed that they would like to stay with the Big East. If this is true, the Big East will be able to keep UConn happy. A Big 12 merger will NOT include UConn, and there is no need of a merger if the Huskies and Scarlet Knights are still there.
As a student at Villanova, it is upsetting to see that two of our top rivals will be gone in 2014, but I do see this as a possible benefit for Villanova in terms of overall success as an athletic program. Yes, the Big East is now second to the ACC in terms of basketball, but the Big East has always been a basketball conference first. Recruits will still come to the conference and there still will be elite teams in the Big East. Most importantly to Villanova, the Big East may now be more open to accepting the Wildcats into their football conference in hopes of keeping Villanova as a basketball partner. Losing Villanova would probably mean the departure of Georgetown also, which makes it very important for the Big East to keep Villanova. The best way to do that? Add Villanova as a football member.
So for now, the Big East looks safe. I think that the Big East can still flourish without Syracuse and Pittsburgh, though it will go through a rebuilding phase once they leave in two years. Even with this new "hope" I have about the future of the Big East, it could all crumble in a second. Stay tuned, as it is very likely things could get crazy in the next few months.