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Narratives of the Big East/Big 12 Battle

The Big East/Big 12 Battle Schedule was announced a couple of days ago, so it’s time to talk about matchups. Believe it or not, it’s hard to talk about matchups and teams when we don’t know their rosters. So, instead of a traditional breakdown, it’s time to dig into the narratives these games present, and find out which ones have the best stories.

Oh, also the scheduling of this battle is incredibly odd, but that’s a later conversation.


#1: Champ vs Champ


It would have been awesome if these schools had played each other in the tournament (you ruin everything Arkansas), but as one of the four games on December First, the defending champion UConn Huskies head to Allen Fieldhouse, arguably the best environment in CBB, to take on the 2021-22 Champion, Kansas Jayhawks. It doesn't get much better than this.


It’s Champ vs Champ. An incredibly easy story to tell. Always a very fun game. Plus, Kansas can say that they would have been champions if Bill Self was able to coach in the NCAA Tournament. They could prove that here, in their minds at least. At the end of the day, Champ vs Champ, and likely two top ten teams squaring off is a lock for the #1 spot.

#2: Shaka’s Revenge Tour


Shaka’s tenure at Texas was not good and there’s a chance that there’s some bad blood. Smart wasn’t able to run his team and his program the way he wanted it to, and Texas, which wants to compete for like every five-star imaginable, wasn’t getting the success they were looking for. It was an odd fit from the start and just didn't work out.


Since landing at Marquette, Shaka led the Golden Eagles to arguably their best season since joining the Big East, winning both the Big East Regular Season and Tournament titles. Smart was also recently given the AP Coach of the Year Award, which was well-earned after Marquette's incredible season.


Texas meanwhile had some controversies with Chris Beard, but Rodney Terry was able to keep that team afloat and earn the full-time Head Coaching job. I would have loved to see how the Texas crowd received Smart, that would have made this game much more interesting. If this was in Moody Arena, it could have taken the #1 spot, but this one should still be incredibly fun.


#3: Slick Rick vs Huggy Bear


This game should rock. Potentially the first big test for Slick Rick at St. John’s will be against another HOF coach, Bob Huggins. The narratives here are pretty cool, especially as these two coaches met when they both coached in the Big East.


But, what really pushed this over the edge for me, was this tweet from West Virginia G (and former Marquette Golden Eagle) Jose Perez.

Perez planned on returning to Manhattan last season, but about two weeks before the season began, Manhattan and Coach Steve Masiello parted ways. Perez immediately entered the transfer portal, landed at West Virginia, and wasn't eligible to play this past season. So now, Perez is returning to Morgantown to use his final year of eligibility.


As for Coach Masiello, he was a walk-on for Rick Pitino at Kentucky. Masiello rose through the coaching ranks, eventually getting the aforementioned Head Coach job at Manhattan. When the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on an extension, Masiello quickly took a job on Pitino’s staff at Iona as a Director of Operations. Masiello is now joining Pitino at St. John’s.


The star player and Head Coach of the Manhattan Jaspers will be reunited in Morgantown on December First. Life just comes full circle sometimes.


#4: Ed Cooley vs Jamie Dixon, yet again


In his time at Providence, Coach Cooley met Jamie Dixon and TCU in two of the last three years. Cooley moves on to Georgetown and Jamie Dixon now travels to the Hilltop to take on the Hoyas. These head coaches meet for the third time in four seasons, for just whatever reason.

These coaches also spent two seasons in the Big East against one another, when Jamie Dixon was at Pittsburgh. There are some narratives here for sure. Add on that Dixon is recruiting former Georgetown Guard Primo Spears to join him at TCU, and Narrative Nation should be very excited for this battle.


Editors Note: Alright, there’s a definitive tier gap here. I’m probably missing something, but I’m going to be grasping for straws the rest of the way, so be prepared.


#5: Assistant Revenge


Baylor won the 2021 NCAA Tournament. They ran through just about everybody. One of their more surprising tests was against #5 seed Villanova, who was missing star PG Collin Gillespie. Villanova played them very close, but Baylor just pulled away in the end.


Well, fast forward to this season, and then-Baylor assistant Coach Jerome Tang is the Head Coach at Kansas State and then Villanova assistant Kyle Neptune now is the Head Coach at Villanova. Uh oh, we have a revenge game.


“You assisted my last game next to Jay Wright, now it’s time for me to exact my revenge.” -Kyle Neptune, probably


Kansas State had an incredible season last year, but their one blemish was a loss in the Big East/Big 12 Battle, to a Butler team that… well… wasn’t very good. Trust me, I watched them play a lot. Kansas State will want revenge on the Big East after that one. Nothing like a double revenge game.


#6: That One There Was a Violation


Kelvin Sampson and Houston will head into Cintas Center to take on the Xavier Musketeers. From one former AAC team to another. These are two teams that have the potential to be very solid next year, depending on who returns. These two teams could have met in the Elite Eight last year, had they both not lost in the Sweet 16.


But the main event here is that both of these coaches were fired from programs due to NCAA Violations. Sampson made too many phone calls, which believe it or not isn’t a rule anymore (Eric Musselman would be in jail if it was), and Miller… well he was fired from Arizona with cause.


I have no idea how/why this meme caught on, but I don't make the rules


Jokes aside, these two teams should produce an excellent game, as they both seem to be going in the right direction over these last few years. Miller could have Xavier back to the heights that Chris Mack reached, and Kelvin Sampson has brought Houston back from irrelevance.


#7: Bob Knight’s Vengeance, NIT Remembrance


Bob Knight is a legendary coach in the college basketball world. He made Indiana a national powerhouse, holding all sorts of grudges on the way there. Knight was there for 29 years, leaving in 2000. Well, in 2004, Ohio State was making a Head Coaching hire. Knight wanted to return to his alma mater but instead, the Ohio State AD didn’t even interview him and decided to hire then-Xavier Head Coach, Thad Matta.


Knight, then at Texas Tech, was furious and matched up with the Buckeyes that season. Matta and his Buckeyes won 77-71. Ever since that game, Matta has never scheduled the Red Raiders, knowing what was on the line for Coach Knight in that battle. Now in Matta's second year of his second tenure at Butler, the Big East/Big 12 Battle did it for them, as Matta will finally meet the Red Raiders again.

But, if that wasn’t enough, the Red Raiders have yet to defeat the Bulldogs on the basketball court. In both the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2007 Great Alaskan Shootout, the Butler Bulldogs have been victorious. Both times the Bulldogs won by exactly ten points, 81-71 and 71-61. Is it really a coincidence that Butler scored 71 in the NCAA Tournament game, or just an homage to the Red Raiders falling ten points short seven years earlier?

Oh, you think we’re done? Wrong.


The Big East was the proud owner of the NIT title. Xavier was able to win it in 2022, defeating Texas A&M in the title game at MSG. This past season, Villanova and Seton Hall could not bring the title back to the best conference in basketball, as the North Texas Mean Green captured the title. You’ll never guess who was the Head Coach of that North Texas team. That’s right, Grant McCasland. Do you know who McCasland coaches now? Texas Tech.


Butler can get revenge for the Big East, taking over the NIT Title that the Big East so desperately wants back, and can get revenge on the entire state of Texas for trying to rob the Big East of this crowning achievement.


#8: The Battle for Javan Johnson


Javan Johnson was DePaul’s second-leading scorer last season, averaging 14.2PPG and shooting 41.2% from three-point range. Ok well, why am I bringing this up?


Well, do you know where Johnson started his college career?


Troy.

But then he transferred to, you guessed it, Iowa State. Oh my goodness. Battle of the century here. The bad blood between these teams is boiling hot. The tension is so thick, you can cut it with a knife.


Plus, if you’ve ever been to Ames, Iowa, all you hear about is their 1967 team. That was their team of destiny. They were off to a 2-1 start, only losing to #1 ranked UCLA. Led by future NBA player Don Smith, this Cyclone team was going to take over the country and put Iowa State on the map.


Then, they traveled to Chicago, Illinois, and were bested by DePaul, in the only time these two teams have met. After that game, Iowa State was so distraught that they lost the next three games, and four of their next five.


They’ve wanted revenge on DePaul ever since. I’ve heard TJ Otzelberger actually has a dart board with the Big East logo on it (because the DePaul logo would cause too much anger in the locker room). They’ve been 3-0 in the Big East/Big 12 Battle and have been waiting for this game for 56 years. 20,435 days later, Iowa State looks to exact its revenge.


#9: Rencher? I hardly knew her!


Greg McDermott used to coach in the Big 12, at Iowa State. So yes, he knows all too well about their aforementioned rivalry with the Big East and DePaul.


But you know who isn’t? Do you know who went back to the Big 12? Former Creighton Assistant, and current Oklahoma State Assistant Terrence Rencher. That’s right, we have another revenge game. Rencher was with the Bluejays for two years, before leaving to join Coach Mike Boynton’s staff at Oklahoma State.


Creighton is 21-19 all-time against Oklahoma State, though they have avoided each other for 25 years after the game known as the “War of December 20, 1998,” where Creighton reigned supreme.


#10: Cameo Supremacy


For those of you who don’t know, Cameo is an app/website where you can buy incredibly overpriced videos of celebrities saying whatever you request, within limits of course. This battle has two coaches who are on Cameo.


Shaheen Holloway is on Cameo for 100 bucks, with an average video length of 32 seconds. Meaning Holloway is making $3.125 per second of his videos. Holloway has a five-star rating, with five fans granting him those five stars.


But don’t you think in the back of his head that Coach Holloway wants to make more on this app? You don’t think he’s jealous of those more active cameo users? I do, personally. I think this keeps him up at night.


And you know who charges more? That’s right, Scott Drew. Scott Drew charges 150 bucks, with an average video length of 41 seconds. Meaning Drew makes $3.65853658537 per second of his videos. Drew also has a five-star rating with 24 five-star ratings from fans.


This keeps Holloway up at night. To try to compete, Holloway offers $3,000 business videos and a $7 message feature, but I don’t think he’s keeping up with Drew.


With Holloway having to travel to Waco, Texas to take on Drew’s Baylor Bears, Holloway’s Pirates will have revenge on the mind. Who’s the better Cameo User? Well, this will be proven on the court.


#11: Battle for Missouri


I’m really stretching here.


Kim English is 34 years old. Did you know that?


Anyways, in his time at Missouri as a player, Porter Moser was an assistant Coach under the great Rick Majerus at St. Louis. Yep, that’s right an in-state rivalry.


These two teams, somehow, never played each other in this time. I was so ready to find a game between them, but it wasn’t meant to be. I have no idea why, but here’s what I did find.


Kim English’s last game as a college player was against Norfolk State, in a very memorable 15 over 2 upset. Kyle O’Quinn played a nearly perfect game as the MEAC Champions upset the Big 12 Champions, which is where Big 12 Tournament MVP Kim English played. Do you want to know what team in Missouri won a game in that tournament? St. Louis.


But then I found out that Porter Moser left for Loyola Chicago the year before that game. But that doesn’t mean Moser didn’t recruit some of those guys on that team, right?


English wants revenge, he wants to take over Missouri. And that’s exactly what’s happening here. Live in Norman, Oklahoma on December fifth, Providence will come to town to try to honor their Head Coach and take back Missouri.


I don't know, these teams haven’t ever played but once in the NIT and maybe have competed for recruits against each other? Or they just both want to win the Battle of Missouri, for their coaches.


There we have the narratives presented. These will come up in November/December, don’t worry. See you at the top.







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