|The Garden's party looks like it will continue to be a Big East affair for many years to come. (Getty Images)|
You think Big East basketball and you think Madison Square Garden. The jam with the peanut butter. Manhattan's primary -- and the world's most famous -- arena has been the house for the league's tournament for three decades running. It's hard to imagine the Big East tournament happening anywhere else.
But many, including yours truly, started daydreaming about that possibility in the past 12 months.
With the Big East's depletion in power in the past two years, there was some speculation the league might lose its stranglehold on MSG to the ACC.
But according to sources gabbing with ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy, that's not the case.
The deadline to bid for the 2016-21 ACC's men's basketball tournaments has passed and Madison Square Garden did not submit a bid, sources told ESPN. The 2013-15 ACC men's basketball tournaments will be held in Greensboro, N.C.
A decision for where the 2016-21 ACC tournaments will be held will be made in the coming months. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn also did not submit a bid.
Big East and Madison Square Garden officials also are continuing discussions about extending the Big East's current deal with the Garden, sources told ESPN. The Big East's current deal with MSG runs through 2016. The length of the extension being discussed is 10 years, which would lock up the Garden through 2026, the New York Post reported.
OK, my immediate reaction is genuine shock over the Barclays Center not submitting a bid when it had an open window. That's the new arena in Brooklyn that's the new home of the Brooklyn Nets. I know the Atlantic 10 has designs on getting into the Barclays Center every year from now until the unforeseeable future, but no question the ACC would be a bigger overall draw in New York City.
Yet it doesn't look like that's what's going to happen. Missed opportunity for the ACC here, I think. Keep it in North Carolina, sure, but why not appease the thousands upon thousands of alumni living in or around the New York City area? Interesting. Also, of course, out of its control.
No bid from Barclays? Weird.
I'll also be interested to see if Washington, D.C., becomes a secondary option for the ACC tournament. This is really a subject for another post, but I'd like to see that league get out of its comfort zone in Greensboro/Raleigh and head a little north. To those saying this contradicts the notion of the Big East always in one spot, at MSG, I say: Greensboro ain't Manhattan. New York City is a destination unto itself. D.C. is in a way, too, but to a lesser degree.
Going back to the Big East, I still don't think what I wrote here was an overstatement. The league is losing flagship programs like Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame and West Virginia. It will be a different look and different culture going forward. Memphis and Temple help, sure, but I can't help but think -- especially with the continued idiocy of inviting all conference teams to the tournament -- the Big East's product and tournament will lack the sizzle and widespread demand it held for 25 years.
If it does land MSG again up until 2026, it's a great deal for the league, so long as the rent is within reason. Because attendance has lagged a bit at MSG in recent years and with the new Big East configuration, it's only going to get worse. This is about TV product and time, too. Getting MSG will mean prime spots on the tube for that week in early March. And in case you forgot, the Big East is currently trying to negotiate as much many as it can into a new TV deal.