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Big East's Only Option: Basketball Roots

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

When the Big East was formed in 1979, the western-most school among the seven members was Syracuse. When the league expanded a couple of years later, it went way west — adding Pittsburgh (and also Villanova). That gave the league nine members, just three of which — Syracuse, Boston College and Pittsburgh — played in college football’s top division.

As it turned out, it was the perfect basketball conference: built on major TV markets and Hall of...

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